9 Productivity Hacks: The Authoritative Guide to Being More Productive

productivity hacksI get a lot done in a short period of time. Last year, I worked 10 to 15 hours per week outside of my full-time job. I had multiple streams of income including counseling, consulting, and passive income streams.

As a result, this year I quit my full-time job, because last year I made three times more working 10 to 15 hours per week.

This is really important because it’s not really about the money. We can always get more money, but we can never buy back time. In 2012, I started moving in the direction of leaving my traditional full-time job for independence. To do that, I had to be highly efficient, because it was taking away from my family, friends, and social life.

A hack is a shortcut, a quicker way of doing something. It’s a way of saving time through someone else’s knowledge.

Here’s what I learned about being highly efficient. There are three major categories I’m going to cover:

  1. Personal mindset hacks that lead to being more productive.
  2. Technological advances that improve workflow.
  3. Interacting with others to get what you want.

 Mindset Hacks

We aren’t explicitly taught that business and money are bad. Yet, within social work, counseling, or psychology school, we pick up on the fact that it’s not a priority. Professors joke, “We’re not in it for the money, or we’d be getting a MBA.”

If we change our mindset, we will change our outcomes.

 Mindset Hack #1 | Be Intentional

When I had my full-time job I would spend every lunch doing one of three things: walking with my friend, doing a private practice session, or working on my website. I missed out on potlucks, camaraderie with co-workers, and going out to eat, but I had a focus to leave my full-time job. I intentionally asked myself, “How to I best use this time to make money?”

 Mindset Hack #2 | Reduce Risk

I always took on financial liabilities as they made sense, not on the hope that they would make sense later. If I commit to a product that cost $50/month, I want to know how it saves me time to make more than $50/month, or that I’ll get enough clients to make up the difference. As a result of this approach, I kept overhead to what was needed to succeed and invested slowly in what was returning money.

 Mindset Hack #3 | Reduce and Reuse

To work quickly, I had to get over being paralyzed by perfection. Instead, I worked quickly, edited as things were published, and reused content. For example, this article may end up as a blog post, podcast, LinkedIn post, and maybe even in a book someday.

Each audience is different. Some people may read everything I write, but most likely there are different people that prefer each platform. I had to get over feeling like a slacker by reducing expectations and reusing content.

Technology Hacks

I have three technology apps or systems I use daily. They save me time and allow me to get more done through streamlining what I want to achieve. All of these hacks are free.

 Technology Hack #1 | IF

The app IF used to be called IFTTT (If This Than That). The main function is what is called a “recipe.” For example: If it is forecast to rain, text me to bring an umbrella.

There are numerous recipes one can choose or you can create your own. Here are some that I have to save time:

  • If I thumbs up something on StumbleUpon, Tweet out: “Great #counseling and #business article [insert article name here automatically] [insert article link here automatically] [insert article picture here automatically].
  • Every Friday automatically tweet “Happy Follow Friday #counseling and #business folks!”

The combinations are endless.

 Technology Hack #2 | Trello

Do you ever get into the black hole of emails when you’re working on a project with someone else? They email you something like this, “What do you think of this video, should we incorporate some of it into our next one?”

You email, “Sure, I like minute 2:01 but not the beginning.”

The conversation goes back and forth. Then three months down the road, you forget what you decided, search for the email, and end up having the conversation again. What a waste of time!

Trello is a free project management system where you invite individuals to the project or just tasks. There are cards, inside of which you can add comments, videos, links, or checklists. It has improved productivity for me significantly!

 Technology Hack #3 | Stop Checking Email

Imagine me standing in line to purchase groceries. I pull out my phone, send a quick email, misspell a few things, forget to capitalize something, and then think about the meal the whole drive home.

Is this saving time?

Instead of checking email constantly, I schedule times to work on it. I plow through 15 to 20 emails and then don’t come back for a few hours. If something is going to fall apart in two hours, someone will call.

 Interaction Hacks

As counselors, social workers, and psychologists, we know that people often respond in predictable manners. If a parent is consistent with their child in giving positive and negative consequences, behavior often improves. If a boss gives meaningful feedback and gives staff a sense of autonomy, their professional satisfaction improves. If we have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions with our spouse, we usually stay married.

These are hacks that can be applied to our interactions as a consultant.

 Interaction Hack #1 | Be Personal

Drop the professionalism; just be yourself. Use the potential client’s name, meet face-to-face or via Skype, and be nice.

Of course, there is a certain level of professionalism that is expected, but making people laugh can go a long way. When people laugh, their brains mirror your emotions, making them feel more connected.

The other day I was expecting a really important phone call from a potential conference sponsor. I love their product and was excited they may be interested. The client was running late and I was waiting for their call. I took a sip of coffee and it was a mouthful of coffee grounds. I thought, “I bet the phone is going to ring right now.” Sure enough, it did.

I spit the grounds into the garbage and answered the phone laughing. I relayed the story to my potential sponsor. He and I started our conversation laughing. They came on as a sponsor.

 Interaction Hack #2 | Weed People Out

Kelly Higdon and I were recently hanging out. She’s an amazing private practice consultant and is part of the ZynnyMe team. I had noticed that for every 10 consulting interviews (where I’ll talk with potential consulting clients for 15 to 30 minutes for free), only about 10% to 20% were following through with consulting.

As we discussed my process, Kelly recommended that I have my lowest price on my website. This would do a number of things:

  • Emotionally prepare a consulting client for the lowest price they would pay.
  • Weed out people that are not willing to pay my prices.
  • Create a sense of professionalism to others not yet ready for consulting.

Once I switched this process I have had 80% follow through on starting consulting. But before that happened, I had to add one more thing.

 Interaction Hack #3 | Work Quickly

The last piece that Kelly helped me change was my sales process. In the past, I would talk with someone about private practice consulting and then email them package ideas. My whole niche is that I create individualized and catered packages for private practice owners. I have items that can help them, but I create a catered package per person.

This takes more work, but the personalized nature seems to fit with my approach. In the past, I would send three or four options a week or so after the call. Consulting was not on the top of the client’s mind at that time.

Instead, Kelly encouraged me to give the cost on the initial phone call.

As a consultant, you have to find ways to be efficient with your time. Personal mindset hacks that lead to being more productive, technological advances that improve workflow, and interacting with others to get what you want will make this happen quickly.

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9 Productivity Hacks: The Authoritative Guide to Being More Productive

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC

Joseph Sanok

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC teaches consultants how to become better consultants through his website Joe also helps counselors with growing private practices through his website He also loves sailing and playing with his two daughters.


APA Reference
Sanok, J. (2015). 9 Productivity Hacks: The Authoritative Guide to Being More Productive. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 23 Apr 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Apr 2015
Published on All rights reserved.