5 killer productivity hacks: How to work faster and finish early every day

Source: Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko/Shutterstock

Between meetings, deadlines that require quick turnaround, more meetings, hitting your goals (and even more meetings) it's easy to feel like you're spinning your wheels at work.

Millennials are known for being workaholics, often neglecting to take vacations we earned and desperately need. But the truth is that too much work can actually hurt productivity — and motivation — as work burnout is very real.

Save yourself the anxiety.

Instead of drowning in despair, make a resolution to be more productive at work, get your 'ish done — and leave before the sun goes down. #Goals.

No matter how impossible it seems, there really are ways to work better during the day that won't leave you looking like an extra on The Walking Dead.

Here are 5 productivity hacks to help you blow through tasks. Then clock out.

1. Reserve your 'to do' list for VIP tasks

Yes, crossing items off your 'to do' list can feel like a drug.

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And certainly, jotting down important tasks for the day or week (or month) is smart if you suffer from forgetfulness.

But those tasks that require a super-short amount of time to complete?

They shouldn't make the cut on your list, said Matt Girvan, president and co-founder of My Gung Ho, a company that creates personal and business organization apps.

"Have a task that takes less than five minutes? Do not add it to your to-do list. Do it now," Girvan said in an interview with Mic. "Most people will write down a pile of small tasks to get done later, or mark an email that needs a quick response as a low priority that can be dealt with in the future, thinking that this is a good system of prioritizing."

Nuh uh. The longer you wait to handle that email, the more likely it will keep slipping to the bottom of your priorities.

Indeed, filling your 'to do' list with microtasks is like padding your resume — makes you look and feel good, but doesn't reflect real work.

So knock out the easy stuff as it comes, while treating your task list like sacred space: where you'll battle it out with those projects that likely take the most time.

Then you'll really earn it when you cross stuff off.

2. Bundle similar tasks together

Sorry, but you don't get a gold star for being a multitasking wizard.

In fact, some believe juggling too many wide responsibilities damages your work quality, and thus your career.

"Do not multitask. Stop. Don't do it," said Fuad Hasanovic, owner of professional services firm Novo: Creative Business Solutions. "You may think you're being productive by multitasking, but in reality, you are just digging yourself [into a] much deeper hole."

As an alternative, consider grouping similar tasks together so you can knock them out in one swoop. 

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"Chuck activities into like groupings," said Andrea Adams-Miller, CEO of publishing, publicity and talent agency Red Carpet Connection. "For example, instead of mixing paperwork and phone calls between meetings, I schedule phone calls in rapid succession so that I can get through a major list of calls within a set time."

Batching together similar activities will help you get — and stay — in the right mindset to finish work more quickly and efficiently.

3. Take micro breaks

Come again? It's true.

As much as you might want to get all work done without stopping (so you can just GTFO when you are done) studies show taking breaks boosts productivity.

"It is better to work in short bursts of intense productivity," said Grainne Kelly, founder of BubbleBum car travel innovations. "If you break your work into bite-sized chunks of time, you won’t get bored."

Or distracted, for that matter.

And you can combine all the above tips to really super-charge your productivity: Instead of taking a call, toggling to a quick email, and then rushing to a meeting — that then gets interrupted by another call — just knock out the email first, take a break (and a breath) before the meeting, and bundle the calls together in the afternoon.

After all, phone calls are becoming rarer in the business world, even as they remain a crucial way to communicate about more sensitive or nuanced topics; that's a good reason to block out special time for them — and not feel rushed.

4. Finish work during "non-peak hours"

Do the office gossips gather 'round the water cooler at the same hour each day? Or, maybe there's a time you know the copy room will be overflowing as everyone desperately preps for a meeting — making you wait in line?

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Try to zig when everyone else zags.

Use those times throughout the day when the office isn't so busy — so you can hustle, said former educator-turned productivity connoisseur Frank Buck.

"Do things at a time when others aren't," the Get Organized! Time Management for School Leaders author said in an interview. "Go to lunch before or after the crowd. Use the copier before others get to work."

5. Find your perfect time-management tech

Thanks to the fruits of modern technology, millennials have access to the best time management apps that help you #GetYoLife together.

But everyone has different needs.

Apps like RescueTime analyze how much time you typically spend doing different tasks — and alert you when you're spending too much time on one particular activity.

Any.do comes equipped with location and time-based reminders that make scheduling both your life and 'to do' list all the easier.

And for those tired of responding to the same old email?

Using pre-written emails (aka canned messages) is the way to go: "If you regularly receive similar emails from clients or co-workers, and typically write similar responses, you can create custom 'canned' responses that are sent with one click," said Dominic Iafigliola, CEO of CalendarSpots.com, an online scheduling and appointment booking software.

Dominic also recommended Boomerang, an app that allows you to schedule and send emails at a later time or date: "This [app] helps ensure you leave work on time... without having to send emails to clients or co-workers at odd hours," Iafigliola added.

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