wellness

‘The 5 habits of highly productive people, and exactly what happened when we tried them.’

Airtasker
Thanks to our brand partner, Airtasker

It’s Sunday night and we’ve decided that this week, unlike last week and precisely every week before it, things will be different.   

Because as a terrible quote on Instagram once said: tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.    

You see, as human beings, we are chaos. Everywhere we go we bring a dark cloud of disorder with us, arriving late, forgetting things, not being organised and being fundamentally confused about what we’re meant to be doing or where we’re meant to be at any given moment. 

It's always there. Threatening to ruin everything. Image: Supplied. Being two grown women with actual jobs, this can be an… issue. 

So this week, we decided to try something new. We thought we’d actually try the productivity hacks we’ve heard about a million times to see if they do in fact change our lives. 

The difference this time is that we have a little help – but more on that in a moment. 

This week is all about working smarter, not harder (even though our screen time would tell us it’s very possible to work harder. If anything… necessary).

So here are the productive habits we embraced, and how we went with them. 

1. Weed out unimportant tasks 

Okay, we like this strategy. It means we can feel productive by actually not doing anything at all. So what can we weed out? 

On Sunday, we went through each of our calendars for the week and started to think about our days. We could see the essentials: Married at First Sight recaps (which also involve watching the show which is hard, important, noble work), podcast records, stories to file, meetings to attend, and so on. But the schedule was packed. Which meant that in order to function effectively, we had to cut out anything that would eat up valuable time. 

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Here’s the list of unimportant tasks we decided to cut: 

  • Mindless TikTok scrolling for any longer than five minutes at a time

  • Stalking people we don’t personally know on Instagram

  • Staring into our dogs’ eyes and whispering loving sayings, when we know they don’t understand

  • Googling ‘scariest ghost stories’ at 11pm at night and spending the next two hours deep in made up scary stories 

The problem was… there were some kinda important tasks that needed doing, but looking at our week we still didn’t have the time. Which brings us to… 

2. Delegate wisely

Everything we read about productive people said one of their best habits is delegating wisely. 

We tried to call our brothers and delegate our washing to them and also our vacuuming, but it turns out that’s not what delegating wisely actually means. 

You see, I (Jessie) have had a task sitting on my to-do list for six months. Two of my favourite plants had well and truly outgrown their pots, and desperately needed to be transferred into bigger ones. Every time I lay in bed beside my monstera deliciosa, I’d say to myself sort. out. that. plant 

On top of that, the rest of my indoor plants needed some expertise. Did they need… fertiliser? New… soil? To be watered more or less? 

So I did two things in about five minutes on Sunday night. I bought new, bigger pots online. They were to be delivered the next day. And I posted a task on Airtasker. 

HELP PLS. Image: Supplied. 

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Within a few hours I had a message from a lovely Tasker willing to help. We arranged a time, and on Tuesday they were at my house, with a backpack full of gardening gear, ready to re-pot some plants and provide some invaluable advice. 

A task that had been sitting on my to-do list for months was completed in less than an hour, with the freedom to choose my own price, and by a green thumb expert who revived my other plants basically from their last legs. 

A new location. A new pot. A new... life. Image: Supplied. 

One of my favourite plants re-potted, and a puppy who's very impressed. Image: Supplied. 

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For me (Clare), the task I'd been procrastinating for six months – ever since we moved into a new apartment – was hanging up photos on the walls in my study. Because we rent our place, I'm always nervous about trying to hang things up myself, worried I'll end up taking off half the paint on the wall when I take it down. 

So I booked a Tasker via Airtasker to hang up two pictures, properly.

A task I've been putting off for... months. Image: Supplied. 

Not only did several Taskers reply with specific details about how they'd hang the pictures, but three were available to do the job even earlier than I'd requested. 

The following day, I had a friendly Tasker come to my apartment and complete the task in less than five minutes, making my study feel a lot more homely than it had previously. 

Before and after. Image: Supplied. 

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3. Start the day early, and do the hardest tasks first

OK so we didn’t like this rule at all and in fact pretended we hadn’t read it out of fear of having to get up at 5am like one of those people. 

5am, according to literally everyone, is too early. 

'Why get up in the middle of the night when you could not?' we reasoned, and so eventually we came to a compromise.

7am. Which will be funny to people with children. Or genuinely productive people who get their most important work done while it’s still dark. We were not yet ready to make such a sacrifice. 

All week, we got up at 7am, and spent one hour on our most important task for the day (writing, preparing for a podcast). Our instinct was to jump onto something ‘easy’ like emails or admin, but instead we decided to save that for the 3pm slump when hard tasks felt impossible. 

Very prepared for a podcast record after an early start. Image: Supplied.  

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It was life changing. 

By the time our work day began, it felt like we had a head start, and had already gained some momentum. 

4. Don’t multitask

If we had one mantra for the week, it was the term ‘monotask’. 

This meant no checking our phones when we were in meetings. No switching tabs when we were writing. In order to focus and get the most done, we had to complete one task at a time.

Given that we're prone to distractibility, we used something called the Pomodoro Technique to help with this. We'd set a timer (on our computer – you can Google 'set timer' – rather than on our phones, because having the phone nearby is too tempting) for 25 minutes, and for those 25 minutes, we had to monotask. 

When that time is up, you get a five-minute break, and then repeat. Quite quickly, you realise you actually want to keep working on the task for longer than 25 minutes, because you've allowed yourself to fully immerse yourself in it. 

While this was definitely the hardest productivity advice to take on board (wait.. you mean we have to do something... ourselves?), it was also incredibly rewarding. We wrote faster. Edited more thoroughly. And ultimately had more time left over than we would have otherwise. 

5. Seek out advice from experts

You know what's far more efficient than trying to work things out on your own? 

Speaking to other people who know far more than you do. 

Late last year, we both started taking on more freelance work, but there was a... problem. 

We had questions. About how that all... works. How do I pay tax on income from my ABN? Do I need to register for GST? What actually happens at tax time and SHOULD I HAVE A SPREADSHEET OR SOMETHING? SURELY?

When browsing through tasks on Airtasker, I (Jessie) noticed there were qualified CPAs (Certified Public Accountant), who are trusted financial advisors when it comes to planning and reaching your financial goals. 

So I posted a task, and was able to organise a remote consultation over the phone. 

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The Tasker I booked was incredibly helpful and didn't make me feel silly, even for a moment. I had a few questions I wanted to ask, but the Tasker also had a checklist prepared of what I should know as a 'sole trader' – and that information was invaluable. 

The Tasker's advice was so useful and personalised that I plan to go to them before the end of the financial year, to get some advice before tax time. 

Obviously, these kinds of productivity habits are like a muscle, and while they genuinely helped transform our week, you need to keep them up to see their full impact.

When it comes to building these habits, there are certain tools that make them easier to implement. 

A platform like Airtasker sets you up to succeed by giving you the opportunity to delegate tasks and seek advice from qualified professionals, all at the click of a button.

Because productivity isn't necessarily about working harder. It's about working smarter, and being creative about how to get things done. 

Get more done with Airtasker. Want your home cleaned, dog walked or furniture put together? Just post a task on Airtasker, suggest a fair budget for a job well done and you’ll start to receive offers from available Taskers.

Feature image: Supplied.



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Airtasker
Airtasker is a trusted community marketplace that connects people who need work done with people who want to work, with its mission being to empower people to realise the full value of their skills. People and businesses can simply post a task and then choose from rated, verified and reviewed people ready to work straight away. Founded in 2012, Airtasker has grown to support more than 4.6 million members across Australia, with 19,771 monthly active Taskers. In 2020, Airtasker was named as one of Deloitte’s Technology Fast50, amongst the fastest growing established tech companies in Australia. Airtasker is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).