The best life hacks are those that actually make a real difference to the way you live your life or approach your work. It is these hacks that leave a lasting impression so they are definitely worth the bit of effort it takes to implement them.
1. Use all of your time
We all have 24 hours, no more and no less, so make sure you use them all effectively. We all love an evening off but if you have a ton of things to do, using the evening and night opens up a wealth of extra hours that you can utilise.
Working nights after a day at work can seem like an unhealthy approach to work-life balance but hear me out on this. I am not saying you should do this every night but when things are mounting up, pushing some tasks to the evening could be the smartest option. At night things are quiet, you feel engaged and invigorated by the change of scenery and focused from the tranquillity and stillness that comes after the twilight hours.
Personally, I try to avoid creative tasks at night, but process tasks, repetitive tasks, spreadsheets and project management tasks are all fair game for an evening session.
All you have to do is set yourself up to succeed ahead of time, this means planning which evening you are going to work then during that day you need to avoid anything, and everything that will make you feel tired or relaxed. This means that you have to drop your usual evening wind-down routine. Avoid relaxing hot bubble baths before getting stuck into the tasks, baths are a night owl’s danger zone. No matter how much of a good idea they seem you have to resist those bubbles. A shower is the only option, full power, nice and hot, full body scrub and a hair wash to get your blood pumping and invigorate you to be productive.
It is important to eat, but you must avoid anything that is going to make you feel like hibernating while you process your meal. Personally, I like to opt for desk snacks, salads and finger food.
Don’t forget, the tasks you push to the evening don’t have to be work-related, they can be your home-based tasks that you have not had time to do around your shifts. Who says cleaning the bathroom has to be done in the daytime?
2. Enter the Matrix (The Eisenhower Matrix)
Feeling overwhelmed and disorganised can be awful, especially when all you want to do is power through your to do list and get out of the other side as quickly and painlessly as possible. It can be so tempting to charge ahead trying to get as much done as you can but unless you take the time to get yourself set up and into the clearest headspace possible you could find that you are working on all of the wrong things. The Eisenhower Matrix is a great visual way to get a grip on the priority order of your to do list. The basic concept is that you create your to do list in your usual way, then you draw 4 boxes on a sheet of paper.
- Box 1 = Urgent and Important – Do this now!
- Box 2 = Urgent but not important – Do these next.
- Box 3 = Not urgent but still important – Plan/schedule a time to do these tasks.
- Box 4 = Not urgent and not important – Only do these if/when you have cleared everything from the other three boxes.
Re-write your tasks into the corresponding box that best suits its urgency and importance. Urgency is determined by its deadline and importance is determined by the degree of criticality.
To power through your tasks and regain a feeling of control just focus on those tasks in boxes 1 and 2, these are the most urgent and most important tasks you have on your list.
Have you heard the term, ‘you become what you say you are’ or ‘say it enough and you start to believe it’? I can’t stress enough how true this is. Our inner voice is the one thing we cannot escape from. Think of it like the friend who came for a sleepover and never went home, you have no choice but to listen and there is no escaping to your room for a quiet 5 mins.
When you are around someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week it is only natural that you will begin to think like them and act like them so it is probably best that you make sure this voice is one that says nice things about you, and to you. It should be a voice of encouragement, inspiration and without a doubt it must be the best damn cheerleader you could ever have.
4. Walk it off
Instead of rushing home after your shift stop to take a 30-minute walk. This will help you to process your day and reset your mind from work to home mode. Wherever possible try to find a body of water (ocean, river or lake) to walk near – water helps us to feel calm and refreshed. If water is not an option find a forest or a woodland walk where you can escape the hustle and bustle, reconnect with nature and enjoy some peace and quiet.
5. Talk to yourself
Talking to yourself is not always a sign of a questionable mental state, I talk to myself all the time and I am 100% sure I am mostly sane. Creative types tend to chatter away to themselves internally or out loud, but we also run the risk of losing track of a great idea because we have so many thoughts rushing around our heads. Using a voice recording app or speech to text app on your phone is a great way to keep all those nuggets of wisdom safe.
10 Bonus life hacks that will blow your mind
I realise that these first 5 hacks are mostly work focused so as an added bonus here are 10 light-hearted hacks you can implement super-fast.
- If you are embarrassed to buy something, grab a birthday card to buy with it and bingo, an embarrassing purchase becomes an ironic gift.
- Painting your home – add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the paint to mask awful paint fumes without affecting the colour.
- If you ever pass a car with a flat tyre, take a close-up picture of the tyre so you can use it as evidence of your own fictional flat tire when you need a failsafe late excuse.
- Sending food back in a restaurant; saturate it in salt so you will know if they have just reheated the same plate.
- Need to stop a sneeze, say the word pineapple and poof the urge is gone. Use with caution, now every time I need to sneeze, I involuntarily think of the word pineapple… I haven’t sneezed in months.
- Cut a potato in half and rub it on a minor burn to take the heat out and stop the pain.
- Switch Facebook and Instagram for Quora or Medium to turn your time sucking, social surfing habit into a knowledge building session.
- When writing an email always add the recipient email last to avoid accidental sending.
- Didn’t read the hack above and accidentally emailed the wrong person? Immediately switch your phone to airplane mode so it fails to send and you can delete it.
- When boiling eggs add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water for easy peeling.