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8 No B.S. Productivity Hacks You Can Apply in 60 Seconds (or Less)

The best productivity hacks are often the simplest (and quickest). I want to share 8 such potent tips with you.


Neeramitra Reddy

4 months ago | 4 min read


The tiniest of changes can yield the most massive of results

Productivity isn’t rocket science, far from it.

You don’t need fancy Pomodoro clocks, “magical” morning routines, exorbitantly priced courses, or a PC cluttered with a swarm of “productivity” apps.

The best productivity hacks are often the simplest (and quickest). I want to share 8 such potent tips with you.

With each taking less than a minute to apply, you can implement them in real-time as you read this article.

Enable Monochromacy on Your Smartphone

Designed to let loose floods of dopamine, your electronic devices with their surreally rich colors draw you in and keep you hooked — day in, day out.

But there’s a simple cure — enabling gray-scale mode.

As former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris found, sapping your phone of its color culls the itch to dive into games and social media by killing mental reinforcements.

You can take this a step further by enabling grey-mode on your laptop and other devices as well.

Play One Song on Repeat as You Work

While music can help get you into a high-focus zone, it can also end up being a distraction.

One moment you’re laser-focused on your work, the next you’re humming that catchy beat and groping for the lyrics. Even if you play lyric-less music, those beat-drops will catch you off-guard.

Try looping a single song — while it’ll rob your focus in its first run or two, it’ll soon drag you into a trance-like work state.

My go-to used to be Loving You by Eric Prydz. Nowadays, it’s Carmen by Lana Del Rey.

Turn Off All Notifications

Nothing’s more insidious than that “Beep” with its accompanying lock-screen light-up—it’ll snap you out of even the deepest of flow states.

Studies have found that it can take a whopping 23 minutes to regain focus once interrupted. Want an even scarier statistic?

66% of Americans check their phone a mind-boggling 160 times every day!

Combine both and the result is — fractured focus, rock-bottom attention spans, and anxiety on steroids.

Switch off all notifications and as your phone lies in blissful silence, you will produce your best work.

Keep a Bottle of Water Within Hand’s Reach

With your brain being 80% water, even the slightest of dehydration can impede its functioning — which means lesser focus and slower cognition.

But getting off your desk to satiate your thirst murders your focus and you’ll have to work yourself back into that high-focus state — which can take up to 23 minutes.

Solve this by planting a filled (gallon) water bottle within your hand’s reach.

Track and Limit Your Screen Time

It’s incredibly easy to underestimate your screen time — if you think it is 4 hours, it’s probably 8 in reality.

Not only does this leech your time, but it also strains your eyes and disrupts your ability to focus — not to mention brain-splitting headaches.

By tracking your screen time, you can reflect on your usage and set limits accordingly.

There are tons of free apps to help you do both.

Wield the Power of Distraction Blockers

In my writing career, discovering ColdTurkey Writer (CTW) was a turning point.

Until the set word or time-goal is met, it turns your computer into a typewriter — you can either bang your head on the wall or blitz through your drafts.

For non-writers, there’s the ColdTurkey Blocker (CTB) — it allows you to block websites, search keywords, and apps. Once a block is started, only restarting your PC can allow you to disable it.

Why bother expending willpower to block distractions when these nifty apps can do it for you?

Both CTB and CTW have free versions that offer the most essential features. I bought the premium ones just to support the amazing developer.

Set Imaginary Deadlines

According to Parkinson’s law, work expands to fill the time assigned to it.

So, the longer the time you have for something, the slower and more inefficient will be your work. In urgency is efficiency — remember the hyper-productive last-minute deadline rush?

But what do you do when you don’t have deadlines? You manufacture imaginary ones — by setting timers for your tasks.

To add some steam to it, schedule an actual activity at the end of your present work.

To add even more oomph, make this activity something that involves another person — a dinner date, catchup, phone call, or outdoor play.

The more the people involved, the higher the accountability.

Manufacture “Hurray!” Moments

While the previous hack is effective, the stress of urgency can sometimes lead to slip-shod work.

The cure is leveraging what my friend Shivendra Misra dubbed “Hurray!” moments:

Basically, rewarding yourself at the end of your work sprint with a fun activity.

A steaming coffee over a book after writing an article. Roasted chicken fresh off the grill post a brutal workout. A sumptuous 5-star dinner after completing that passion project.

Thanks to the dopamine hit of completing the work, the fun activity will feel even more satisfying.

Final Words

You don’t have to implement all of these right away — take it one step (or hack) at a time.

Pick the one that intrigues you the most, then apply and stick to it. Rinse and repeat.

Here’s a quick recap of the 8 hacks:

  • Enable gray-scale mode on your smartphone.
  • Play one song on repeat as you work.
  • Disable all notifications.
  • Within hand’s reach, have a bottle of water.
  • Track your screen time and set limits accordingly.
  • Use distraction blockers — CTW if you’re a writer and CTB if you aren’t.
  • Set imaginary deadlines and schedule activities (involving others) to reinforce them.
  • Make the work fun by “rewarding” yourself with a fun activity right after.


Created by

Neeramitra Reddy


Top Writer on Medium

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