This article is written by Lewis Byford as part of Money Marketing’s brand new hub, Financial Adviser 2B.
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We have all been there, sitting at our desks with a long list of things to do but, before you know it, the day is over and you can’t work out what you have accomplished.

When I ask a financial planner how their day has been, the answer is always “busy”. So surely there are better ways to use your valuable time?

There are hundreds of productivity hacks out there, all promising to change your life forever. Here are four that I have found to be most effective:

1. Eliminate smartphone distractions

Thanks to technology, distractions are ever-increasing. It is taking over our lives. As I sit at my desk, I have my phone to my right and an Apple Watch on my left wrist. If not programmed correctly, pings and vibrations will distract me all day long.

So, let’s start with an obvious one. Take a look at your app notification settings. Do you need that update from Just Eat, Autotrader or that silly game you never play? There will be an option to turn off the notifications or, better still, delete the app altogether.

Going a step further, it is possible to halt all notifications – including calls, texts and emails – by turning on your phone’s “do not disturb” function. I do this regularly throughout my day when I need my brain to function at its highest level.

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2. 90/90/1 rule

I now want you to think about your morning. The first 90 minutes of your working day. What did you do? Do you even know? Make a cuppa? Check emails? Gossip with work colleagues? You will be surprised how little work most people do first thing – but this is when your brain is at its sharpest.

I came across the 90/90/1 rule in a book called the 5am Club, by leadership and performance coach Robin Sharma. He says: “For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your work day to the one best opportunity in your life. Nothing else. Zero distractions. Just get that project done.”

Give it a go. The results are amazing.

3. 60/10 method

It is proven by science that the top performers do not work harder for longer, they work smarter. They use the creative part of their brain more. They focus intensely on one activity, then allow themselves time to reflect and recharge before going back to it.

The 60/10 method is to follow the first 90 minutes of your day as detailed above. You work solidly for 60 minutes – again, no distractions. Your brain will be in overdrive, giving you the energy to complete that task to the best of your ability. Once the 60 minutes is up, you take 10 minutes to reflect and recharge. You might wish to listen to some music or have a cup of tea; anything that will bring you joy and engage the left hemisphere of your brain, getting those creative juices flowing again.

Once complete, you continue the cycle with another 60 minutes on the clock.

4. Do it, diarise it, delegate it, dump it

Finally, let’s look at refreshing your to do list.

We all know one of the best ways to manage your time more efficiently is ensuring you are working on the tasks that make the most impact. But who is guilty of procrastinating over such tasks? I know some like to focus on the easy stuff first and leave the hard things until later, but this can often lead to those more difficult ones never getting done.

Get an A4 piece of paper and split it into four equal sections.

Section one is going to be “Do it”. These are the most urgent tasks and are likely to be time sensitive.

Section two is “Diarise it”. These tasks are important to you and need to be done but they are not urgent.

Section three is “Delegate it”. These tasks are likely urgent to someone else, but you don’t enjoy them. When we don’t enjoy a task, we do not do it to a higher standard. You need to delegate elsewhere – either to a person or computer system.

The final section is “Dump it”. Tasks that are not really important take up time in your day. Get rid of them.

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So, those are the four techniques that have really made a difference to my productivity. I hope you can gain some value from them. I would love to hear how you get on, so please follow me on LinkedIn and let me know.

If you have any thoughts around this or have any questions, I would love to hear from you.
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