I’m a big fan of productivity hacks although I have to confess that I spend so much time looking through and researching productivity hacks that I don’t end up saving that much time in the end. That doesn’t mean that I can’t share what I’ve learned to save you some time (unless you’re also spending a lot of time doing research and in that case, you better get back to work!)

Over my many years of working in the industry, working at home, working in coffee shops, here are some of the things that I do to either save myself some time or to learn something new:

Duolingo

The language learning app is really amazing — I started learning Chinese (although to be honest, the Chinese in the DuoLingo is not that advanced and will help you with basic conversations rather than advanced ones) but have since started to learn French (trying to resuscitate the remnants of what I learned back in high school), Korean (many of my high school friends are korean and I’ve always wondered what they talked about when they spoke in their native language), Japanese (one of my bucket list destinations to go), Spanish (a very popular language and I hear it’s quite romantic) and a few other languages. Am I going to become fluent in any one of those languages? Maybe with practice with other people but it certainly helps keep my mind young and in a growth mindset.

Use a large water bottle for hydration

The great thing about a larger water bottle is that you don’t have to go back and forth to the kitchen or water cooler when you run out as often as when you have a small water bottle. The same thing applies for tea or coffee — try using a larger cup if you can stand the additional liquid and save yourself a bit of time not having to go back and forth to refill as often.

Two is one and one is none

An incredible quote from Jocko Willinck who said this quote to Tim Ferriss when describing how much to buy / how many critical items to bring. For example, if you need to keep your phone charged, bring two chargers because inevitably, you’ll end up misplacing or losing one of the chargers at a crucial moment. Need a special cable to charge your device? Again, bring two wires just in case you leave one hanging as you run out the plane. Two of things can also be incredibly handy around the house — imagine not having to run downstairs to charge your phone because you also have a cable that you keep upstairs.

After you finish using something (a tool, a step ladder, etc.) put it back in the place you found it

I get extremely annoyed when I cannot find something because it has been moved or used by someone else in the house and has not been put back. Rather than try to search through my house over and over because I need a particular cable or tool, I’d rather save my mental energy and reduce my frustration by putting things in the same place as I found them originally so that I can build a mental map of where things are in my house or in my work place (and not have to figure out where a tool could be if it’s not where I put it last time).

Rest your eyes at strategic times

My mom always told me to take a break whenever I have been on the computer, staring at the screen hours on end. This was usually when I was younger and playing video games but still, I take the advice to heart when I’m at work. Whenever I save (which I try to do on a regular basis) or starting up an application and waiting for the computer to do its thing, I’ll try to look outside a window or stare off at something far away so that my eyes aren’t so focused on the computer screen and have a bit of a break. This will save you time since you don’t have to necessarily break focus while you are in the middle of a difficult task.

Turn up your mouse speed

Seems weird I know but if you turn up your mouse sensitivity, you will feel that the mouse is too fast at first but after a few days, you will quickly adjust to the new speed. You are welcome!

Listen to an audiobook or podcast as you are changing or brushing your teeth

I love audiobooks and podcasts and try to listen to them all the time while I’m doing something that I don’t need to heavily concentrate in, say driving, exercising or preparing food. Now, I’ve started to listen to small tidbits of advice and knowledge as I change and brush my teeth and I find that it’s a nice way of taking in some information because your mind is particularly clear and focused in the morning.

What are your hacks that you use to be productive or to learn new things?