Life Hacks for Agency People? My Personal Review of 7 That Worked and Two That Didn’t

By now, we are all familiar with life hacks – those quick and clever techniques, shortcuts, and tips that supposedly increase your productivity and efficiency.

The phrase “life hacks” seems to have originated in the early 2000s, and today they are a virtual content industry feeding the appetites of people who are seeking to do and achieve more – especially those struggling with working from home in the midst of the pandemic.

To be honest, I was never interested in life hacks until recently, when we all started working from home, which has been personally challenging for me.  My introduction to the world of life hacks started with a book called “Atomic Habits” by James Clear.  After reading it, I adapted the author’s tips and tricks to my daily life and work.

Later, I started seeking out more content that gave me positive vibes and productivity tips, testing all the tricks I found in search of those that truly work for me. As a result, I’m now more aware, more in the present, and better at solving problems. Life hacks have also made my work simpler and more enjoyable.

As the COVID-19 lockdowns drags on, I think we could all use a bit of positivity and help.  That’s why I am sharing with you all my first life hack review.  The hacks below are personally tried and tested by me.  I hope you’ll find them helpful!

1. Meditate after waking up:

I pay a lot of attention to my morning mood, since it can influence how the rest of the day will go. One way I improve it is with 10 minutes of meditation after waking up. Starting the day with meditation helps me to feel fully awake, aware, and alive before doing anything else. My trick is to focus on what I want to feel today: productive, energized, joyful, inspired – whatever I think I’ll need!  After just two weeks of this, I noticed that I can focus better and longer on my work, resisting both distractions and gloomy moods.

Rating: 5/5

2. Validate yourself:

I don’t have any data to back this one up, but I know that self-validation helps me.  Stress is part of the job, so when I have a stressful moment, I try some self-validation life hacks.  Just a simple message said aloud to myself such as “I’m doing my best!” or “I’m not alone in my struggles. We’re all in this together” really helps me to put things in perspective and feel good. These may not sound like much, but try saying them 3-7 times and you may feel a difference.

Rating: 3/5

3. Test out productivity methods like the Pomodoro Technique:

It can be especially challenging working from home since we’re not used to following the same routine every day, but a productivity method called the Pomodoro Technique can make all the difference! To follow it, split your workday into 30-minute blocks made up of 25 minutes of focused work and a five-minute break.  For every four of these “Pomodoros,” take a longer 15-30 minutes break. 

I’ve been using this technique ever since I was in college to help maintain my motivation, increase my accountability, manage distractions, and finish my work on time while meeting high standards of quality.

Rating: 4/5

4. Reward yourself:

Who doesn’t like rewards?

Indulging in a reward three times a day gives me something to look forward to and helps me to focus on completing specific tasks, knowing that there’s something nice waiting for me after they’re complete. It’s not just the reward itself, but the feeling that I deserve it for a job well done. I even write down my upcoming rewards in my journal the day before to plan them around my schedule, usually dividing the day into three “reward sections” such as… 

  • 1st reward @ 10 a.m. after my WIP call: a hot Americano in my favorite mug
  • 2nd reward @ 3 p.m. during my afternoon break: a refreshing drink or snack
  • 3rd reward @ 6 p.m. after finishing work: order take-out or cook something I enjoy

Of course, your rewards don’t have to be food and drinks – that’s just something that always motivates me. Be creative and figure out what works best for you!

Rating: 5/5

5. Learn to combat procrastination:

Procrastination is my worst enemy – especially on Mondays when I’m fresh off the weekend. Therefore, I wanted to provide some tips on how I’ve learned to deal with it:

  • Start your day with small tasks that can be completed easily. These give you a feeling of accomplishment.
  • Try shifting your focus to a different task.
  • Pay attention to when you concentrate best and seize those moments for as long as they last.
  • Take breaks when you feel overwhelmed and practice compassion for yourself.

Rating: 3.5/5

6. Eliminate grudges and move on

A grudge sounds like something nasty and full of negativity, but they’re a common part of life. They might be related to work, but they can just as easily involve societal issues like the ongoing pandemic outbreaks or the current political situation. Either way, letting those things sit in the back of your mind weighs you down.

Here are some ways I try to flush them out:

  • Find a hobby or activity that gets my mind off the situation (currently I’m obsessed with painting).
  • Examine what I’m upset about and why – maybe I can find a solution or accept that it’s something I can’t change.
  • Vent about it! Either in my journal or commiserating with my friends.

Rating: 5/5

7. Turn off your laptop when it’s time:

Work is essential, not just for money but also to feel like life has a purpose. But along with the need for work comes the need for a healthy work-life balance. Burnout takes a toll on your mental health, so it’s essential to know when to call it quits for the day – especially working at an agency where it seems the clients never rest. One of the best ways to stay productive at work is to make sure you spend plenty of time not working or thinking about work.

I try to log off at the same time every night and shift to enjoying “me time” when I can rest my brain and reset. I like to take a short walk outside, peek in at my neighbors’ cats, then return home to continue a painting or a series on Netflix, or to have a quick call with my friends for updates on our lives.

Rating: 5/5

While these hacks work for me, there are others that don’t, such as…

Going to bed early

In my online reading about life hacks, one I saw often is that sleeping earlier will help you focus better the next day. Following that advice, I tried sleeping early for a week! But it didn’t work well for me, since I tend to work better at night, and I quite enjoy the evening quiet and calm. So for me, the important thing is getting enough sleep – no matter what time it is!

Rating: 2/5

Pretending to be at the office

Some people feel more productive if they continue their morning work routines, putting on business clothes and make-up before starting their day. Although I’ve tried this method, I’ve found that I prefer to spend that time sleeping in a bit and enjoying my morning coffee.

Rating: 1/5

But of course, what works for me might not work for you – and vice versa! The point is that I gave these different ideas a go, and I recommend that you do the same. As I mentioned before – it’s best to be creative, play with ideas, and find the ones that suit you best!

Pannikar Hariraksa is an editorial content executive at Vero who is fascinated by life hacks and all the content this topic generates.  She will continue to try, test, rate and share her views on the world of life hacks.