Life “Cue” Cards & 10 Simple Productivity Hacks

Most success minded folks are trying to find ways to survive and thrive in the daily grind. How do we improve efficiency and effectiveness for maximum results with our money, health and time? Because we all know our small daily actions can add up to great results over time! Life seems to move a little faster each year. Therefore, in this post we explore 10 ideas or “hacks” to make daily organization and task completion routines a little easier!
  • 10 ideas to improve your effectiveness and efficiency in daily actions.
  • Simple and easy things to do that make a big difference over time.

1. Life Cue Cards

Ever notice how poised and assertive news casters are? Ever notice how they know just what to do and say on live TV? That is because it has all been planned out before hand, every little thing they are saying is scripted. Everything they say is thought about in advance and planned. On the other hand, sometimes we kind of just bumble through each day from task to task. But what if we had our own “script” or cue cards that set us up for success? I keep a small stack of colorful index cards and a sharpie near my working desk area. I can use the cards as “cue cards”. I write the top 3 things I need to accomplish that day. It can be anything, it does not have to be fancy or eloquent. Therefore, I call these my daily life cue cards. They simply keep me on track with the top 3-5 things I want to accomplish that day, in spite of the many distractions eating away at our time.

2. Email management

Let’s face it, email is out of control in the modern world. I am not even sure if people use it anymore. I do use it quite a bit (more than desired) at work. I am like an email monkey. But all the noise needs to be managed for optimal effectiveness and use of this tool. Anything you can do limit the distraction of email the better. Here are some key tips for success:
  • Email should not be your tasking list. You will then be at the whim of everyone all day long. You need to establish a separate tasking list for your day outside an inbox.
  • Get the junk out of the way. I have a folder each year that is like a holding pond to get the noise out of my face. If something is questionable whether I will need it, just get it over. I try to keep the Inbox to just items I need to respond to or will need to use currently for whatever I am working on. Otherwise, move, delete, file and get it out of the way quickly.
  • Not everything needs a response. What did the sender ask of you, if anything. I see people write long winded responses and the sender never even asked a question.
  • It’s a tool, a mostly valuable one, but do not let it run your day and your productivity.

3. Mail management

Along similar lines, do not let home mail systems get out of control. I use another quick technique. The minute I get the mail, junk goes in the recycling and the rest is brought in to manage. Bills paid quickly, although moving to most bills becoming automated. For more on general home decluttering and management see the ideas from the Konmari method applied to building wealth.

4. Lists, lists, lists

The modern world was built on writing down human knowledge, the scientific method, expanding on that knowledge and lists. Just kidding about the list thing, I have no idea If that is true. But, I would believe it. In order to achieve great things, those great things are comprised of thousands of small incremental steps. When Elon Musk launches a rocket to space and then re-lands that rocket on a pad in the ocean for reuse, that entire human endeavor involves thousands of micro decisions and actions. Without elaborate lists, it would be impossible for humans to track and move through these types of efforts. Therefore, same holds true for your personal productivity and ability to build wealth. We need lists to prioritize and remember our tasks. Not to mention the great feeling of striking a line through an item when it is completed. I know this kind of stuff sounds too simple to even talk about. But you may be surprised by how many folks do not use simple tools like lists to accomplish their daily tasks and ultimately their large life goals.

5. Reduce the commute

I plead with you to do anything possible to reduce commuting. Commuting long distances to work each day is a huge waste of gas, wear/tear, your time and your health. The most important item in there that folks rarely talk about is your health. Long commutes contribute to many chronic health problems. Here are a few ideas to reduce the commute, add money into your pocket and probably years to your life:
  • Negotiate a telework day or two.
  • Live as close to work as possible. I would say even if it means having a smaller house.
  • Or find employment closer to home.
  • Use trolley, train or mass transit. Some companies offer incentives for such.
  1. Work in stretches, exercise and yoga short bursts
Very few of us have the luxury or desire to spend hours working out. I find that some of the best workout hacks fit into our daily lives almost seamlessly. Here are some ideas:
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes. Work for a while, then when the timer goes off do a lap around the block, do some push ups or a downward dog yoga position.
  • When all is done at the end of the day, do a walk around the block.
  • Always take the stairs, instant cardio burst.
  • Hop on the home exercise bike for 5 minutes each day.
These things might not sound like much, but if done a couple times a day, at the end of the day you have at least worked in the recommended 30 minutes of exercise doctors say we should get each day. And all this has been worked into your day. No special clothes, towles, equipment, memberships, etc.

7. Automate

We have to take advantage of automation in life. What happens consistently over time creates huge results. The is a main message of The Money Vikings. Consistently save and invest in order to build wealth. Check out our ideas for automation at Ways to Create a Wealth Building Army. Automating saves us not only time, but precious brain power and creativity. If we are busy trying to remember every little thing that should be automated, then we are wasting energy on non-creative productive pursuits. You want your brain freed up to think about creative what if solutions to issues and problems that people encounter.

8. Organize & clear the desk

We are having fun utilizing the Marie Kondo “Konmari” methods of decluttering and organizing. I truly believe having a decluttered and organized environment effects our mood, health, productivity, energy and relationships. Having organized systems around us just makes us more efficient. And at the end of the day efficiency can easily translate into dollars.

9. Focus & attention

Being productive takes developing the discipline and environment to focus. What we put our focus and attention on grows, whether it is good or bad for us.

10. Take a break

Sometimes we also need to take a break from everything. Take some time to let the brain settle down. Let the body heal. Let the mind calm and wander. The old metaphor is a saw and “sharpening the saw.” If someone keeps sawing on and on, eventually the saw blade dulls. Let’s say that person just kept sawing because as they put it “they are a hard worker.” Great, but the effectiveness of that cutting will diminish drastically as the tool loses its sharpness. In other words, we need to take a break to sharpen our saws. Then when we come back to the work at hand, we are more effective. It is kind of along the lines of working smarter not harder. Yes, I took the 7 Habits class by Covey, and I actually like the concepts and found them to be life changing in a positive way. We are not machines. Therefore we were not designed to run non-stop all day and all night. Anyone who says otherwise is either foolish, a masochist or trying to prove something. So take care of your mind, body and spirit with some of these productivity hacks. They could be some of the best investments you ever make.  

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