19 Insanely Easy Tricks To Increase Your Productivity

19 Insanely Easy Tricks To Increase Your Productivity

You know how when you have a slow day, you wonder how to make time go by faster?  

Well, remember: Time is constant. It’s the speed that’s not — that’s all your perception.

The Science Behind Time: It’s All In Your Head

You can actually control your perception of time and move into the future faster.

Here’s why: Time is what you make of it. Scientists have discovered that it’s a subjective experience.

doc brown back to the future

Our ability to track time without a watch gets fuzzy after five seconds. That’s according to German psychologist Marc Wittmann.

In one experiment, he had participants sit in a room for 7.5 minutes. Some people perceived it to be two and a half minutes; others thought it had been 20 minutes.

When we do measure time most accurately, it’s because we’re acutely aware of its passing.

In another experiment, Wittmann had people judge durations of time up to 18 seconds. Those who best guessed their timing had more activity in their insular cortex. This is the part of our brain that helps us to sense ourselves.

Now we know why:

  • Time passes slowest for people who practice mindfulness
  • When we’re occupied, we don’t notice the time go by (“This week flew by!”)
  • We get bored when we lack distractions from ourselves (“GMOH” – You on a Monday morning or Friday afternoon)
clockBoost inbox productivityThis tool automates mundane tasks like writing emails and booking meetings

19 Insanely Easy Tricks To Increase Your Productivity — Right Now

Pro tip: Bookmark this post to come back here anytime you’re like:

salem the cat - what to do when you're bored

1. Check out your competitors to get fresh intel

This one’s way underrated.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Set up Google Alerts for your top 3-5 competitors.
  2. Set up a free account with Owler and then go here to set up a daily snapshot email.
  3. Open new tabs in your browser for your top 4 competitors. Check out their updated homepage, product or service tour, blog, customer testimonials, and pricing. Jot notes down to share with your team.

2. Ask your manager for another project or side task

A 2016 study by Udemy found that 43 percent of US office workers are bored or disengaged — making them 2x more likely to leave their jobs.

1 in 3 of these workers blamed their boredom on not having enough to do at work.

The worst thing you can do at work: Get paid to sit around and slack off.

The best thing you can do: Speak up when your workload isn’t enough to stay busy.

Asking for more shows you’re an asset to the company and keeps you engaged and invested in your job. Change your mindset from reactive to proactive.

Pro tip: Come up with a list of a few things you think would help get you closer to your goals. (We like GrowthHackers.com for ideas.) Then, ask your manager for approval.

3. Start a trial with a tool that makes your life easier

Okay, shameless plug.

We built a tool for Gmail and Outlook inboxes that can increase your productivity by 10x.

Here’s the new you that awaits with Yesware:

yesware features

And here’s how to get started in 60 seconds.

4. Find training opportunities near you in the next 6 months

Two questions for you:

Does your team have budget for training?

Have you asked your manager to receive training?

If there isn’t a clear block on budget and you haven’t asked for training, now’s the time.

A study of US office workers found 80% of those who were bored would feel more engaged if they learned new skills.

Often times, budget never gets allocated because employees don’t think to ask.

Google search: “[industry] training [city] [year]”

Bring up in your next one-on-one: Is there budget? Offer to do research.

Use this email template to follow-up:

Subject line: Approval for {!training name}?

Hi {!First Name},

Following up re: the topic of {!training} that we discussed {!when}.

I dug into the training here [hyperlink], and it looks like I can get the following for {!cost}:

  • {!Benefit 1}
  • {!Benefit 2}
  • {!Benefit 3}

Do you agree that this training would level-up my {!xx} skills specific to my role? If so, I can take the necessary steps to enroll. The next training is {!Date/time}.

5. Reach out to someone you care about.

A 2016 study of data from 3 million mobile phones found the number of friends we stay in touch with peaks at 25 years old. After that, it starts to decline.

keeping in touch with friends over time

How to prevent it: Take 30 seconds to reach out to a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile.

Why it’s worth it: strong social support is the common thread tying together the happiest 10%.

6. Find a motivational quote for your desk

Science tells us that positive emotions lead to a 12% spike in productivity. And when we’re productive, time goes by faster. We aren’t sitting there being hyper-aware of ourselves.

So: find a good quote, and then write it on a Sticky note for your desk or print it out. You can even use Canva to give it a background graphic.

what canva looks like - how to use canva

You can get 13 other quotes with pre-generated graphics here.

7. Toss on a good playlist

Music can be even more motivational than a good quote.

A research experiment held on treadmills found that motivational music increased endurance by 15%.

Maybe you want music to push away boredom with tasks on your list already. Or you might want to use it for tasks on this list. Either way, take your pick:


8. Stop typing the same thing over and over (you don’t have to)

One of the reasons we can get bored is repetition of the same task.

And a way to make time pass faster is to stop while still getting the output you need.

Enter, automation.

Here’s our favorite app (full disclosure: we developed it with you in mind):

Templates is a tool that saves the messaging you keep using in emails, with custom placeholders.

what yesware templates look like

It’s great for saving time with:

Meeting recaps | Meeting agendas | Cold outreach | Follow-ups | Formal Emails

Because you go from spending 13 hours a week on email to 30 seconds per email sent.

mailType it once, save for re-useEmail templates that live in your inbox

9. Find a new Gmail shortcut to start using

Here are the top three shortcuts I had no idea about before we wrote a post with 33 of them:

  1. Mark an email as unread with shift + u.
  2. Start a reply by pressing r — or press a for reply-all.
  3. Add a color to your Gchat with ▲ + ▲ + ▼ + ▼ + ◀ + ▶ + ◀ + ▶ + b + a + Enter (Okay, this one’s more for fun.)

Start using keyboard shortcuts and you can save 8 full working days over the course of a year. (Here are 17 shortcuts to pick from)

10. Sign up for a focus group mailing list

Does anyone not like making extra cash on the side?

I think not.

You can make hundreds of dollars helping out another company looking for people just like you.

What to do: Google search: [your city name] + focus group mailing list. Sign up for a group to get email alerts about upcoming focus groups. (You fill out quick questions to see if you qualify. If you do, you’re invited to a ~1 to 1 hour focus group).

11. Go run an errand you’ve been putting off

We prefer to be busy when we know we’re being productive.

Case in point: in an experiment, students had two options:

Option A: Have a bracelet in your possession and spend 15 minutes sitting idle with it.

Option B: Spend 15 minutes disassembling it and building it into a second bracelet.

The majority of students chose option B because it kept them busy.

(What’s most interesting is they only chose B when it involved making a second bracelet. When Option B was to disassemble and re-assemble the same bracelet, they chose Option A.)

12. Clean your space

Research shows that organization of our environment affects our attitudes and our productivity.

At home: People who describe their living space as “cluttered” are more likely to be depressed. This was proven as part of a study using linguistic analysis software in 2010.

At work: A 2011 Princeton University study found that clutter (“task-irrelevant objects”) overwhelms our visual cortex. It makes it harder for us to concentrate and complete tasks.

What to do: Throw out any trash and put things back that aren’t in their designated place. Then, group remaining items into categories.

13. Make a to-do list for your future

We can get bored with tasks we’re given because we aren’t clear of the goal or we haven’t bought into it.

On the flip side, we’re 11 to 25 percent more productive when we are working toward a goal. We’ve known this since the 1960’s with studies by psychologists Latham and Locke.

Here’s what to do about it: make a Notes doc on your laptop, phone, or on a piece of paper. Divide it into three sections: Goals for today, Goals for EOW, and Goals for EOM.

The good news: we already have buy-in for tasks that we give ourselves.

14. Find (and get) a good book

Reading for 6 minutes a day can reduce stress by 68% and helps us decide, plan, and prioritize better at work and in life.

arthur library card

Check out these 21 books for business leaders, team managers, and inspiration. (Includes links to Amazon listings)

15. Get yourself outside for five minutes

Taking a walk outside makes you more creative — it’s proven.

A Stanford University study found that walking increases creative production more than two-fold. That, and outdoor stimulation has a separate, positive impact.

why you should go outside every day

16. Stop wondering how to make time go by faster

Here’s what I mean by this one: it’s time to act.

We all have things in our life (work and personal) that we know we could improve on.

How to start: pick one a new skill you want to dig into on your own at work, or a bad habit outside of work to cut.


  • Block off one hour per week to research growth articles for your role;
  • Set up a daily trigger to end one of these 7 common morning routines.

Then, set up a trigger and a reward.

Having both of these things make it easier for you to succeed; it takes 66 days to form a new habit.

17. Check out this list of resources for more tips

The worst blogs are ones filled with fluff. You leave scratching your head or getting back to a search page for your question the post never solved for you.

At Yesware, we fight against that every time we publish. It’s part of our content guidelines.

yesware blog

Here are nine more actionable, data-backed ways to work smarter — right now.

18. Sign up for the Yesware Blog

Like what you’ve been reading?

This one’s easy.

All you have to do is enter your email address here. You’ll get an email whenever we publish a new post (about 1x/ week).

This helps you avoid times of boredom in the future with ways to work smarter. It also gives you templates to build off of.

19. Make your inbox smarter in 60 seconds

In case you missed it above…

You have within-hand-reach superpowers for your inbox. And they’ll do two things for you:

  1. Give you insight that keeps you in the know for areas you’re left wondering about right now.
  2. Transform your inbox into your own personal assistant.

A free trial of Yesware will give you easy-to-use tools:

Email tracking — Know when your emails are being read (+ from where & on what device)

Meeting scheduler — Insert your available times in the click of a button.

Easy campaign creator — Personalize emails to up to 200 recipients at once.

Plus, it comes with a Salesforce Sync that sales reps and account managers love.

chart-barSave hours per dayStreamline your workflow with this inbox add-on of time-saving tools

 That’s all for now!

Tweet at us at @Yesware if you have any tips or feedback.


Hungry for more?

Here are 15 more sales productivity hacks for you.

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