10 Time Management Hacks to Turn You Into a Productivity Machine

Using these 10 filed-tested time management hacks I increased my own productivity by 200% working for one of the biggest companies in Norway. I managed to generate the same output in 2 hours which I had normally completed in 8 hours.  I became a productivity machine. – writes Tor Refsland, the Time Management Chef.

You are frustrated.

For as long as you can remember, you have been racing with your schedule.

Lately you have been spending a LOT of time reading a gazillion of different time management hacks…

…but you haven`t become ANY more productive.

On the contrary, you seem to have fallen even FARTHER BEHIND.

And the reality is about to give you a punch straight to face.

You realize that if you DON`T pull yourself together NOW…

the race is over for good…

and your career is FINISHED.

Can you relate?

If so, it`s totally okay.

We have all been there.

The key to becoming more productive is NOT about reading as many time management hacks as you can, it`s all about picking a few time management hacks and IMPLEMENTING them successfully.

Let me introduce you to the 10 time management hacks to turn you into a productivity machine…

Writes Tor Refsland, founder of Time Management Chef, and author of Insane Productivity Hacks: A Step-By-Step System to Double Your Productivity in 7 Days.

Tor decided to leave my six-figure job in order to follow my passion – to help online entrepreneurs SAVE TIME and INCREASE RESULTS.

This post was written by a guest contributor, opinions his/her own.

Become a Productivity Machine with these 10 Time Management Hacks

10 time management hacks photo credit: Six via photopin (license)

1. Find your burning ‘why’

You want to become more productive, right?

Good, then let’s dive in.

Let me start by asking you a simple question…

What do you want to achieve?

If you said, becoming more productive, you are only partially right.

You don`t really want to become more productive.

You want to BECOME and STAY more productive.

Becoming more productive is a goal.

Staying more productive is a habit.

The most important factor when it comes to reaching a goal and creating a habit is to have a strong WHY.

Why should you want to become and stay more productive?

If your why isn`t strong enough, you won`t have the perseverance and the self-discipline to do the necessary tasks.

Saying that you want to become more productive, because you will get more stuff done isn`t good enough.

Saying that you want to become more productive, because you want to get more dates, probably won`t work either. Because once you realize that there is nothing more UNSEXY on a first date than to talk about productivity, you will abandon your productivity mission before your date has finished the appetizer.

You might be saying, “Okay, Tor, I got it. But what is a strong why?”

A good question.

An example of a strong why:

You want to become and stay more productive so you can SAVE MORE time in your life, while INCREASING your results… which again will help you to get a PROMOTION, earn more MONEY one a side project or improve the PROFITS in your current business… while having TIME for your family, friends, going for a run or laying on the coach with a good book.

You get the point.

2. Sacrifice

Saying that you want do something is easy.

Successful people know that every activity they complete, every goal they achieve and every habit they implement is all about…


Everything has a price.

Most people think that life is like a restaurant, you find out what you want, you order, you eat and THEN you pay.

That`s wrong. Like Zig Ziglar said, life is like a cafeteria.

You find out what you want, you order, you PAY and then you eat.

cafeteria menuphoto credit: Brunch Menu via photopin (license)

It`s all about the art of delayed gratification.

Successful people make decisions today that will have a big long-term impact in their life, and they are willing to work hard over a long duration of time, BEFORE they achieve their goal and can reap the rewards.

While those who struggle to achieve success in the long run make decisions that will give them a small but quick reward that requires little work.

You need to find out what you want and the price to achieve it.

Then it`s time to…

3. Make a decision

What do you want to achieve?

If you answered to BECOME and STAY more productive, you are right.

A flying high five to you! *SLAP*

Did you find out what you need to sacrifice?

I don`t like sugar coating stuff. First of all, it`s not my style.

And second, it may give you a wrong perception of what`s required of you regarding the journey you are about to embark on.

You need to be prepared to:

Start to say no to unreasonable requests. It may be uncomfortable for you in the start and people might be disappointed. But hey! Are you going to be an errand boy / girl or are you going to become more productive to own your time (and your life)?

– Accept that you will fall on your face, multiple times. Implementing new stuff isn`t easy and it may take a while before you get a hang of it. You won`t master it in the start. And that`s fine, it`s all about baby steps.

– Work long nights. If you NEED to finish X amount of important tasks during a day, and the tasks seem to take MORE time than you had estimated. Guess what? You need to work longer. Why? Because it`s all about building and maintaining your self-discipline. Note: this is ONLY regarding IMPORTANT tasks.

bruce lee

– Your coworkers, friends and family might be starting to comment on your project. Well, LET them!

Do you know why most people aren`t going to become successful?

They are too occupied with observing and commenting on the people who are working on becoming a success, and end up never taking any action. Observing is important, but you need to summon your motivation to act.

Are you a badass who will face any obstacle in order to become more productive?

Great, I thoughts so!

The next section can truly bring your productivity to the next level…

4. Planning

This will probably be one of the hacks that will multiply your productivity the most.

Experts say that every minute spent in planning saves you ten minutes in execution.

You need to plan your day in advance. To be quite honest, you should plan your week a week ahead (yes, you read correct). Like a chess player, try to see ahead and strategize your every move – time is a finite resource.

If you are not able to do that, you should at least plan your next day the night before.

Have a master to do list that will contain ALL the tasks that you need to do.

If a task isn`t on your master to do list, then it won`t get done.

Why do I call it a master to do list?

Because you only have ONE to do list.

Not the one to do list to rule them all, just one to do list.

When the next day starts, you will instantly KNOW which tasks you should be working on. And these should be your most income generating tasks.

chessphoto credit: let’s play chess on the street via photopin (license)

Note: I managed to increase my productivity by 200% while I was working for one of the biggest companies in Norway. If you want to learn how to DOUBLE your productivity within 7 days, get my free ebook “Insane Productivity Hacks“.

Since your schedule is packed, you need to be very selective about which tasks you want to add to your never-ending growing to do list.

You should start asking yourself the following questions regarding any new task that falls into your lap:

– What do do?
– When to it?
– Why it needs to be done?

Let`s drill deeper. Question one…

5. WHAT to do

When a new task appears you should ask yourself what the task is.

That is kind of obvious, right? But, you need to ask more questions regarding the WHAT question.

It`s like peeling an onion, there`s several layers.


Task name: deliver sales report to regional sales manager.

What kind of sales report?

Report of estimated sales per month vs. actual sales.

What do you need to do in order to complete the task?

List all the subtasks that you need to do in order to complete your task:

  • You are aware that many of your sales people had problem with updating the sales for the last month in the IT system, due to problem with the login to the sales system
  • Contact your IT guy to check if the problem with the IT-system has been fixed
  • Check if ALL the 21 sales people have been able to update their last months correctly in the IT-system
  • Generate the sales report
  • Add additional comments
  • Print report, sign it and deliver it to regional sales manager

In the example above your real job is to generate the report, add additional notes, sign it and deliver it to the regional sales manager.

However, in order for you to do so, you must make sure that the X amount of tasks have been completed by other people BEFORE you can start on your task.

The next question you need to ask yourself is…

6. WHEN to do it

When is the deadline?

Let`s continue with the example above.

The report needs to be delivered to the regional sales manager in 3 days.

It will probably not take you more that 30 minutes to generate the report, analyze it, add additional comments, sign it, and send off.

Nonetheless, YOUR task is a dependent task, which means that one or several tasks needs to be completed BEFORE you can complete your task.

Since the deadline expires in 3 days, and you need to contact a lot of people (21 sales people and the IT guy), you should start with contacting the other people ASAP. In addition, you should make it clear to them that this is a hight priority task, and give them the deadline of 1 day.

Why 1 day, when you really have 3 days to your deadline?

Because not everyone will manage to complete their task within the deadline, regardless of how long the deadline is.

You want to contact all your sales people who haven`t completed their task after day 1, which still gives you a remaining deadline of 2 days.

You get the deadline part?

Good, let`s jump over to one of the most important questions…

7. WHY it needs to be done

When I was working for one of the biggest companies in Norway as a system administrator for the SAP HR/Payroll solution, where we ran payrolls for about 30 000 people each month, people were constantly bombarding me with requests.

tor refsland norway

There were so many requests, that it was literally not possible to reach every deadline on all the incoming tasks.

So I started to ask myself the question…

WHY does this task needs to be done?

If the person who had sent the request didn`t given me a clear reason of WHY the task was important, I would automatically put it further down on my to do list.

I also would immediately bring a summary of such cases to my boss, explaining my status (a crazy banana schedule) and why I meant that my current IMPORTANT tasks were MORE important than my new task.

The boss would then make a judgement call based on my input, and I would act accordingly. It needs to be said, that I made it crystal clear, that if I were to prioritize the new task, the other tasks would naturally suffer.

Because someone says that a task is important doesn`t necessarily make it so. It`s all depending on the big picture and which important tasks you are currently working on.

Okay, now we have covered the what, when and why questions.

The next time management hack will definitely help you to become more productive.

8. Take control of your environment

If your coworkers are disturbing you with the office ‘small talk,’ try to change your environment. Perhaps there is a conference room nobody is using at the moment?

The easy solution is to put on your earplugs and listen to music that help you focus. But If they are still disturbing your productivity, remove yourself from the environment.

Hunt for an isolated room, book a meeting room or if a coworker isn`t at his / her office, borrow it (you should have informed the person in advance).

If none of the above suggestions works, remove yourself completely from the environment. Take the commute to a Starbucks, a library or someplace where you will be able to work undisturbed.

When you finally have a suitable work environment, you should then…

9. Focus only on one task

Regardless of the myths, studies have shown that multitasking is not working.

Have you ever tried to have a meaningful conversation (yes, I said meaningful) with another person on the phone, while you are replying to a very important email AND trying to order a plane ticket at the same time?

Well, I can say that it doesn`t work.

You may believe you can multitask…and other people might have patted you on your back, because you are the company`s multitask master.

The fact is that you are much more efficient by doing one task at a time.

The job will not only get done FASTER, but you will complete your tasks with a HIGHER QUALITY.

How are you really measured in your career? You are measured by the QUALITY of RESULTS your are generating in a certain TIME frame.

If you increase the quality of your work, but don`t use more time, you will have become more productive.

If you get the same amount of quality work done in a short period of time, you will have become more productive.

And then, if you want to make a big home-run when it comes to productivity…

INCREASE your RESULTS by working LESS amount of HOURS.

That is productivity 101.

Okay, now over to the most important part.

When you have done all the hacks above, it`s time to…

10. Become a productivity machine

People`s actions are rarely controlled by logic, even though we would like to think so, it`s based on feelings.

Have you ever been out on the town with friends and you had a budget on X amount of dollars to spend?

Then as time passed by and the more cheerful the company became, you FELT that you actually really deserved to have a REALLY good time that night.

4625294241_722eed54c2photo credit: Six via photopin (licene)

Why do you think they play cheerful music in big clothing stores?

They want you to enter a positive mindset, so you will feel like spending more money.

People might also spend a lot of money on unnecessary stuff, if they are sad.

You get the point.

So how can you make sure that your emotions don`t interfere when you are going to BECOME and STAY more productive.

When it comes to reaching your goals and creating new habits…

you have to IGNORE your feelings…

you have to be PERSISTENT…

you have to be TOUGH as nails…

you have to do ALL the necessary tasks, whether you FEEL like it or not.

In other words, you have to BECOME A MACHINE.

I have just become a father for the first time, and to be quite honest my dear baby Luna is really making sure her daddy is NOT getting enough sleep…

Did I feel like writing this blog post this morning?


To be completely honest, I felt like going back to bed and get some more sleep.



Because I DON`T let my feelings influence my schedule…

and I will perform WHATEVER important task I have DECIDED to complete, regardless of what my emotional state is.

It took me a little while to get a hang on hacking my own productivity, and it will probably take you some time too.

But TRUST me, it`s all so WORTH it!

If I can do this, so CAN YOU!

Remember, baby steps.

Related Productivity Articles:

10 Top-Rated Productivity Courses on Udemy

12 Productivity Hacks to Optimize Your Time Like a Pro

What to do next…

The key to becoming more productive is NOT about knowing many time management hacks, it`s all about you picking a few hacks and IMPLEMENTING them successfully.

Which hacks are you going to implement today?

What is your best time management hack that have made you become more productive?

Get my ebook here: Insane Productivity Hacks

insane productivity hacks

What’s your favorite time management hack?


12 Responses to 10 Time Management Hacks to Turn You Into a Productivity Machine

  1. Matthew Capala July 20, 2015 at 5:07 pm #

    Great time management tips Tor, changing my environment is a productivity hack I use all the time.

    I would add:

    – get at least 6-8 hours of sleep (you cannot be productive in a long run if you are constantly sleep deprived)

    – avoid drama in your life and be emotionally healthy (negative emotional states will affect your productivity – surround yourself only with people who support you)

    – pay attention to diet (nutritious foods – vegetables, fruit, organic juices – will give you the energy to power your productivity machine; heavy foods – bacon, burger – will make you sleepy)

    Great post!!!

  2. Tor Refsland July 20, 2015 at 6:52 pm #

    Thanks for your comment, Matthew, and for letting me contribute to your great Sumo Hacks website.

    I had a blast doing it!

    Yes, getting enough sleep is crucial. They say that the average person will function optimal with 8 hours of sleep. However, this may of course vary from person to person.

    Drama in your life can be a real black void when it comes to draining your energy and disturbing your focius.

    Great point about eating healthy.

    If you had a Ferrari, would treat it well?

    Sure you would. You would give it the best car wash, the best polisher, the best oil, the best fuel, the best services, right?

    Then why should you treat your body any different?

    Treat your body, mind and spirit good, and they will make sure you become a productivity machine 😉

    Have a great day!


  3. rakhee July 21, 2015 at 7:24 am #

    you PAY and then you eat.
    start paying for what you want to eat by following these step.

    Great blog.

    • Tor Refsland July 24, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

      Hi Rakhee,

      thanks a lot for commenting.

      Yes, paying the price before you eat is how success works 🙂

      Sumo Hack is a great blog!

      Have a great weekend!


  4. Ryan Biddulph July 21, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

    Tor, great to see you here! From a fellow Sumo Hack guy 😉

    I love #1; you probably knew that already lol. I know why, and it’s tied to my freedom, so I’m able to write and publish an eBook daily. Hell, I use most of these tips and I know that they work, as I’ve published 77 books on Amazon so far and I keep churning them out, between paperbacks and eBooks. If you are as hungry to be free than you fear doing uncomfortable stuff you’ll manage your time effectively.

    Thanks dude!


    • Tor Refsland July 24, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

      Likewise, Ryan.

      High five! *SLAP*

      Yes, having a strong why is fundamental to a accomplishing anything big worth achieving. 77 books?

      LOL. That is CRAZY 😉

      In order to do that, you do indeed have to follow most of these tips!

      Have a great day, man.


  5. Michael Einstein July 23, 2015 at 8:37 pm #

    Great tips, and agree with all of them.
    I am a big proponent of allocating only a specific amount of time to an activity. This is a key approach I advocate for Email Management (, but works for nearly any type of task or activity.

    The “Pomodoro technique” is a fairly popular approach, since it mixes both focused work sessions with “non-work breaks” (gives you a “reward” for your effort). But this approach has been around a long time, previously referred to as “time-boxing” or even “sprint sessions”.

    But a key piece of this approach is to eliminate all your distractions and truly focus on that one task for the intended duration. I have found that meditation and mindfulness exercises can actually be helpful to this approach, since they help you learn to “acknowledge” and “eliminate” stray thoughts and distractions from your consciousness. The key is to really turn off all potential sources of interruptions, and make a significant and purposeful effort on that one task. And this takes effort and practice. It’s not easy. Even doing a 5 minute “work sprint” is more then most people can really do at first. But if you work at it and practice, you can learn to really “get in the zone” and “flow”, and true productivity and creativity will flourish.

    There are a number of tools and utilities that can help you with this, but you can also achieve the benefit very simply by using a timer and shutting off your phone, email, and browser!

    I personally suffer from “shiny object” syndrome myself (reason I study this stuff is that I am challenged by it myself!), and I find that time-boxing to be a big help in keeping me “on task”!

    Dr. Michael Einstein

    • Tor Refsland July 24, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

      Hi Michael,

      thanks a lot for your great reply.

      Yes, the key to being productive is a combination of bullet point 8 and 9.

      #8 – Control your environment can be translated to remove all distractions.

      No cellphone, no internet connection (if it`s not required for your task) and no other external interruptions.

      Another hack you could do, is to train yourself to BLOCK OUT external interruptions.

      When my newborn baby daughter is crying in the background (mother is looking after her), I put in earplugs and listen to calm music. That does the trick, and lets me enter “The Zone” when I choose to.

      #9 – focusing on one single task until it`s done, is really all about training and self-discipline.

      When I control my environment and enter the zone, I can work for 3-3,5 hours straight on one single task without interruptions.

      Studies have shown that the average CEO in USA spends only about 1,5 hours each day on productive tasks.

      In other words, if you are able to work focused 3 hours each day on your most income generating tasks, you are twice as productive as the average CEO 😉

      Have a great weekend, Michael.



  6. Matthew Capala July 24, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    Great tip Mike, our human minds are in flux 24/7 racing from one place to another, and it’s not natural to focus on a single task at hand. Time-boxing seems to be right technique. Thx for sharing.

  7. Kevin Peter July 30, 2015 at 11:30 am #

    Reading Tor’s post is always been a treat. Thank you!
    Applying these hacks to the sales process brought the best out of each one, mending our daily habits and improvizing time management techniques to optimize the opportunities for success and growth, overcoming the challenges to manage our time better and get back on the right track immediately.

    • Tor Refsland July 31, 2015 at 6:37 am #

      Hi Kevin,

      thanks a lot for stopping by to comment.

      I really appreciate you sharing from your experience.

      I LOVE when people apply the time management tips and get results.

      Most people just read tips.

      But as Napoleon Hill said in his book “Think and Grow Rich”: Knowledge is not power, application of knowledge is power.

      Which role does it play in your life if you KNOW the best hacks in the world, but don`t apply any of them?

      Zip, zero, nada…

      Read tips, apply knowledge and get results.

      That is the only way to change your life 😉

      Have a great weekend, Kevin.



  8. Dyson August 11, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

    Everyone is pressed for time and needs time management hacks. Here s how to get your work done in half the time, how to set values and goals, and much more.

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