Time is Money: 5 productivity hacks that will make you work faster, better and smarter


It's tempting to think that you work hard enough. You'll get paid either way — whether you finish your report at 10 a.m. or 3 p.m. But that is a near-sighted look at your compensation.

Time is money if you are not paid by the hour, which is why shaving 60 minutes off each day can be tantamount to a 10% raise for some workers.

Plus, raises go to not just those who ask for them — but those who deliver work on time. The amount lost on the raises you could have gotten, over time, is staggering: It could be $1 million dollars lost over the course of your work life, all because you were too busy watching cat videos instead of getting work done.

The most common productivity killer at work, according to a study from CareerBuilder, is using your cell phone or texting, with 52% of employers saying this is a problem. Surfing the internet is up there, too, at 44%, gossiping came in at 37%, and using social media got 36% of respondents. 

Almost half of the employers surveyed in the study said these interruptions caused a lower quality of work, and about one-third said they lead to lower morale — because other workers have to pick up the slack.

Now, this is all a case to crack down on the distractions around you. As habits and productivity expert Gretchen Rubin says, it is easier to change your surroundings than yourself or other people. 

Here are five crucial ways to start.

How do you improve focus at work? Try an app like "Stay Focusd."

Work is hard when you're trying to get a project done by 2 p.m. and all the while the election is unfoldingOverwatch just unveiled a new character and you're trying to remember who to blame for not being able to get that "Easy Street" song out of your head.

Roaming on the web while we are supposed to be working costs U.S. businesses $63 billion in lost productivity, according to Websense, Inc.

One way to keep yourself from going down the rabbit hole of the internet is to stay on task with a website-limiting extension to your browser like Stay Focusd, Self Control or Leechblock.

These attach to different browsers, but each performs the same function: keeping you away from time-sucking places online.

You set the conditions for each program and it will keep you out of harm's way for the time you need to do your work. 

How can you get better at meeting deadlines? Don't try to "over-deliver" — just deliver.

Oft-repeated is the "under-promise and over-deliver"' maxim. But it turns out that's a big waste of energy

There is very little upside value or appreciation on the receiving end when workers over-deliver or go above and beyond what is asked, it turns out — even when those memos from the bosses say they are expecting the whole team to "give 120% effort."

Stay focused on the task requested and do just that; refocus any extra energy on staying on track, on budget and on time. 

A big danger of going above and beyond is that can backfire: Over-reaching or being overly ambitious can actually cause a project to take you more time and put you at risk of going over deadline. 

Delight in the basics: Do the task, deliver on time. 

How do you get alerted to an important email? Use the email-to-text hack.

When you're waiting for an important incoming email, everything can come to a standstill as you check, recheck, sort and get lost in your inbox. 

That's a time suck. Here's the solution: Set up an email-to-text rule for the specific email you're looking for, shut your email program and wait for the ping.

First you need to find the email-to-text format for your mobile phone provider. For example: AT&T's is number@txt.att.net, T-Mobile's is number@tmomail.net and Verizon's is number@vtext.com.

Then set up your email with a rule so that it forwards messages from your target sender to your phone via text.

Once you close your inbox, you'll be able to ignore your emails and get back to the work at hand — and you will get the text alert when your important message arrives.

How do you prevent burnout? Work hard — but take off.

Part of being productive is letting off some steam. 

It may be surprising, but folks who take the most time off also get more raises

According to a study by Project: Time Off — an arm of the U.S. Travel  Association — those workers who take more vacations actually have higher paychecks.

The same study showed that more than half of working adults left vacation days on the table.

Don't let a mean boss discourage you. Use your days or you'll lose more than just the time — you'll lose your productive edge.

How do you work more productively in an office? Move to a room with a view.

Working with a view is correlated with higher productivity, according to a study by the California Energy Commission

A better view out of a window — particularly a window that is larger than average and an outdoor scene that has more vegetation than average — was associated with employees working more productively.

According to the study, workers in a call center processed calls 6% to 12% faster when they had the best possible view, compared to those with no view. Similarly, office workers did 10% to 25% better on mental-functioning tests and on memory tests when they had the best possible view as opposed to those with no view. 

So sit in the sun.

If you've implemented these and you're still struggling, you may need to jump to extreme measures of self-control — and ask for a Pavlok for the holidays.