By Courtney Connley
According to a Gallup poll, 41 percent of American adults say they don’t have enough time to do everything they want to do. As a result, nearly 80 percent say they feel stressed sometimes or even frequently throughout the day.
To make sure you’re getting the things that matter accomplished, productivity experts Laura Vanderkam, Chris Bailey and Julie Morgenstern say it’s imperative you plan your day to get the most important things done first.
Below, they share with CNBC Make It three simple habits that will help you to be more productive this year.
1. Track your daily activities
According to Vanderkam, one easy way to better manage your time is to track your activities on a daily basis. In fact, she says she spent three years tracking what she did every day in order to see where she wasted the most time.
“First, people who feel like they have enough time are exceedingly mindful of their time,” she writes in her book, “Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done. ” “They take ownership of their lives and think through their days and weeks ahead of time. They also reflect on their lives, figuring out what worked and what didn’t.”
Tracking your schedule for three years might seem like an impossible undertaking, but Vanderkam says you can start on a much smaller scale by creating a weekly spreadsheet that is divided into half-hour and one-hour time blocks. She suggests entering activities like work, sleep, driving, cooking dinner or spending time with your kids in the spreadsheet roughly three times a day.
2. Reduce distractions with this smartphone hack
On average, people check their phones every 15 minutes or less, according to psychology professor and author Larry Rosen. As a result, Bailey says, it can take you up to 50 percent longer to complete the initial task at hand than if you’d never been distracted. That’s why Bailey says changing your phone setting to grayscale mode can have a huge impact on your productivity.
In grayscale, everything on your screen appears in black and white, rendering apps and social media less appealing to look at, according to Bailey.
“The intentional architects who build these applications build them to take advantage of our attention,” he explains. “We’re wired to pay attention to anything with these high-saturated colors that are very stimulating and pleasurable and threatening to look at.”
3. Don’t make email your top priority
Checking emails first thing in the morning may be a daily habit for many, but Morgenstern says kicking your day off this way can negatively impact how you tackle the rest of your to-do list.
Instead of making emails your top priority, she says you should spend the first hour of your day completing whatever assignment requires the most brainpower. Ask yourself every morning, “If I can get one thing done that can make me the most accomplished and secure in my job, what will it be?”
Morgenstern says you can even decide what this task should be the night before. That way, you start your day with complete control over what needs to get done.
“You are trying to have a rich and varied set of work that you do in one day, rather than just reacting,” she explains. “And when you check your emails, you are just reacting.”