My guide to productivity (sort of)
Productivity, it’s a funny one isn’t it. It would be great if we could flick a switch that turns on productivity mode, but alas, it doesn’t work like that. Over the last couple of years, I’ve developed a couple of habits that have boosted my daily productivity, and as I’m such a lovely person, I’m sharing my secrets with you.
**Disclaimer: I’m not presuming to know everything (or anything) about productivity. I’m not even saying I’m productive, but these things help me, so they might help you, so be quiet and listen.**
Things that work for me
1. Email checking times
Your inbox can be the devil – don’t let it drag you to hell. Sending emails should never take up most of your day, or job. Set yourself ’email checking’ intervals and don’t check your inbox outwith those times. A difficult one to crack I know but emails are a distraction that you don’t need to have. I go with 50-minute work to 5-minute email check intervals so anything urgent is picked up within the hour.
2. To-do lists
I use a tool called Teamweek for planning my tasks however most of the guys in the office use Todoist. It’s personal preference really and I’d give both a try before settling on one. My theory on why I prefer Teamweek? My left-handed brain is more drawn to the colour blocks and weekly task visualisation. Call it rubbish but that’s how I see it.
3. Desk organisation
To be honest, this one I only half stand by. But the theory is that if you have a bomb site of a desk you’re always going to be thinking about tidying it in the back of your mind and you won’t fully commit to another task until it’s tidy.
4. Not leaving the biggest task until last
I’m totally lying, I do this all the time. But you shouldn’t, it’s really bad.
5. INBOX ZERO
Along the same lines as the tidy desk theory – if you’ve got loads of emails in your inbox, you won’t properly concentrate on other things. I have 5 emails in my inbox at the moment and I’m freaking out a little bit.
6. Little distractions are ok, and actually, I encourage them!
Sometimes you just need a break and instead of looking at rubbish websites or god forbid, Facebook, try something that keeps your brain stimulated instead. We’ve got a ping-pong table in the office and I give Type Racer a go every now and again.
Simple rules I follow
If you can do something in 2 minutes, do it now. If you find yourself procrastinating, combat it by working on something different for just 5 minutes. Chances are you’ll spend the 5 minutes on that task and get yourself out of ‘the funk’.
Cool stuff I’d like to use
Whilst I don’t use these things, I think they’d be pretty cool to use so if you try them out before me, I’m awarding you the prize of being more productive than me.
30/30 is a free task manager app, pretty much built for the procrastinators of the world. It basically encourages you to outline specific tasks and then set time allowances for those said tasks. It then encourages you to stick to these time deadlines through the use of a timer. P.S I’ve got one up on you already as I’ve just this very second downloaded the app 😉
I’ve dabbled with this in the past but not for the purpose of improving my productivity. IFTTT is super cool – it allows you to connect different web applications together and automate everyday processes. IFTTT call these connections ‘recipes’. Some recipes that could easily be super useful:
- Quickly create events in Google Calendar by entering a description like “meeting with Sarah at 12.30 on November 20th”, the event will automatically be created in your calendar!
- Add receipts, orders, & invoices to a GDrive Spreadsheet by using Gmail search. This recipe will locate and add receipts & order to a receipt spreadsheet in Google Drive.
- If you’re a Todoist user, put all your completed tasks in a Google Spreadsheet. Is useful if you want to review work done for the month all in one place. Also, there’s a recipe that automatically creates a reminder to take action in Todoist if you ‘star’ an email in your inbox.
I get told off all the time in the office for writing notes on post-it notes; because they’re not environmentally friendly, because they are easily lost, etc, etc. Evernote can basically be used as digital post-it notes. I really want to force myself to use Evernote, but fear that I’m too set in my ways using its inferior, paper version.
I mostly want to use this because it looks like fun. Notability basically helps you to digitise your brainstorming sessions, in a fun, visually appealing way of course. It also allows for sharing and multiple contributors so that it’s altogether much more collaborative (and much more engaging than a whiteboard).
This one’s for if you’re the type of person that gets distracted easily. StayFocusd is supposed to make you more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on non-work-related or ‘time-wasting’ websites. Pretty brutal but hey, something’s gotta give if you want to boost productivity. It’s pretty flexible; you can block entire sites, or subdomains, specific paths, pages and specific content on particular pages.
Eat all the food!
If you’re feeling sluggish and you’ve got a big task that you need to complete, feed yourself some edible productivity. Bananas, dark chocolate and oats are all healthy productivity-boosting snacks. If you need a real kick, drink a Matcha green tea, known to be a natural energy enhancer without the negative side effects you’d usually get from caffeine. My favourite productivity-boosting snack is the ever-popular trail mix – pop in some dried banana, dark chocolate chips and nuts and you’re winning at life.
I’m hopeful you’re going to take a few golden nuggets away from this blog post. If you try anything out that I’ve mentioned or if you’ve got productivity-boosting tips that I’ve not mentioned, please do share!