Productivity Methodologies – Stay Focused to Achieve More.

What works for you?

While there are great days where we bounce around ploughing through the to-do list, there are just as many, if not more days where we just have so much on our plate that we don’t even know where to start. 
This is particularly common for business owners and marketers. Overwhelm and confusion kick in. Fortunately, there are quite a few smart people out there who have created productivity methods and tools to help you get focused and practically manage and achieve more. 
You just need to find the methodology that fits your personality and projects. However, reading a lot of articles about productivity methodologies can also be a massive time commitment. That’s why in this blog post, I’ve decided to do the work for you and gathered a list of methodologies you can choose from and find out what will work for you.

List of Methodologies:

  • Getting Things Done (GTD)
  • The SMART Method
  • Timeboxing
  • Biological Prime Time
  • The “To-Do” list
  • The “Must Do” list 
  • Pomodoro Technique
  • Eisenhower Matrix
  • Don’t Break The Chain
  • Eat That Frog
1. Getting Things Done
Getting Things Done (GTD) is a time management method from productivity consultant David Allen. GTD, as described in the book of the same title. It starts with listing all the tasks that you need to do in a day. After that you can categorize it in 6 areas of focus namely:
  1. Current actions

  2. Current projects

  3. Areas of responsibility

  4. 1-2 year goals

  5. 3-5 year goals

  6. Life goals One you’ve listed and categorized all the things you need to do, you can then begin knocking them out one by one. If it can be done within two minutes, then do it now. Otherwise, break down big projects into a series of smaller, quicker projects.

Here is an example of a GTD workflow/flowchart:

2. The SMART Method

Improve your productivity by goal settling using the SMART Method. For a goal to be a good one, it has to be SMART: S for specific, M for measurable, A for attainable, R for realistic and T for time-bound.

  • Specific. Specify as many details as possible including and not limited to what, where, when and why do you want to accomplish the goal. 

  • Measurable. What is your definition of "done"? Set milestone goals along the way to measure your progress and know exactly how you’re going to do it. 

  • Attainable. This bit is important. Is the goal you’ve defined attainable by you? This aspect of the goal settling process is centered around you. You should assess yourself if you have the resources, focus, energy, time, and drive to achieve it.

  • Realistic. Even though you have all the focus, energy, time and drive to achieve it, you also need to assess if the goal is actually realistic. A goal being “realistic” is all about whether it’s possible to achieve it.

  • Time-bound. Set a timeframe for you to achieve a goal. For example, don’t just set your goal to ‘save money to buy pair of shoes’. Instead, you, would want to save money each month, to maximum of 6 months, to buy the pair of shoes.

3. Timeboxing

In most cases, we usually do one task at a time or concentrate on one task until it is done. In Timeboxing, time is prioritized over task.
This time-management tool encourages you to allocate a certain number of hours or days, called a "timebox," to each activity. You will then use this time – and only this time – to complete the task.

4. Biological Prime Time

Biological Prime time is a term coined by Sam Carpenter in his book “Work the System” which simply pertains to your most productive or focused time of the day.
This method involves getting things done by knowing your peak performance times of the day. You can determine your Biological Prime Time by tracking your energy levels for at least three weeks.
Then, schedule your tasks such that the biggest projects are done at times when you have the most energy.

5. Personal Kanban

Double your productivity with Personal Kanban. This method is developed by Taiichi Ohno and it comes from the Japanese word “Kanban” which means signboard. Basically, this method involves a board divided into three columns
abeled To-Do, Doing and Done.
You can use post-it notes to list down the tasks you need to do and stick it under the To-Do column. The goal is to move the task from To-Do to Doing until it is under the column Done. Personal Kanban involves visualizing your work and limiting works in progress. You will find this Kanban style as a feature in project management tools like Trello and

6. The “To-Do” list

This method is probably the simplest and most popular of all. It basically just involves listing all the tasks you need to get done whether on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. For me, I usually want to complete 1 Big Thing, 3 Medium Things and 5 Little Things on a weekly basis. I write this down at the end of each week, focusing on the following week. It’s like bookmarking my ideas and projects so I can pick it up easily at the start of the following week.
Sometimes I will also do this daily if I have a lot to get done. I also use Evernote to take down audio notes (talk to type) for thoughts that come up when I am not at the laptop in my personal time. I always have my phone to hand so it makes sense to use a notetaking app.

7. The “Must Do” list

A variation of the “To-Do” list, the “Must Do” list involves categorizing your tasks whether it’s personal or work-related stuff. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Pick your medium to work in. You can keep it simple by using pen and paper or you can use technology and apps that offer organization and productivity features on top. Wunderlist is an example.

  • Add and organize tasks. List down all tasks that you need to do and separate them into categories. Break big projects into smaller and quicker actionable tasks and set priority levels for each task. Add all the information you need for each task. You can also include why you’re doing each task to motivate yourself into finishing it.

  • Make sure tasks get done each day. After you’ve listed and organized your tasks, it is up to you now to make sure that these tasks are getting done each day or at specified deadline dates. Remember, this list only helps you keep track of the tasks. 

8. Pomodoro Technique

This is the productivity method that I use personally. 

Similar with GTD, Pomodoro Technique is also a time management method which makes use of a timer to break down work into bite-size intervals. It is developed by Francesco Cirillo after the tomato-shaped kitchen time Cirillo used as a university student.

This technique is cyclic and it involves taking a break to keep you motivated and creative. The steps are:

1. Decide on the task to be done.

2. Set the timer to 25 minutes.(This timing is up to you)

3. Work on the task until the timer rings.

4. Take a 5-minute break. 

5. Repeat steps 1-4 three more times. This covers your mid-morning.

6. Take a 15-minute break. 

i. Repeat steps 1-5. 

ii. Take a lunch break, 30-60 minutes. It’s up to you. 

iii. Repeat steps 1-6 for the afternoon.

iv. Choose task

v. Timer for 25 mins

vi. Break for 5

vii. Timer 25 mins – do 3x.  

viii. Break for 15 mins

ix. Timer for 25 mins – do 3x. 

You will be surprised how much you have achieved across the day. 

9. The Eisenhower Matrix

Also referred to as Urgent-Important Matrix, Eisenhower Matrix helps you decide and prioritize tasks by urgency and importance. As the name implies, it involves a matrix and it looks like this:
Using the decision matrix above, you need to separate your tasks based on four possibilities.
  1. Urgent and important- Tasks in this quadrant are important tasks that need to be done immediately.

  2. Important, but not urgent- Tasks in this quadrant will need to be scheduled to do later.

  3. Urgent, but not important- These are tasks that you will delegate to someone else

  4. Neither urgent nor important - These are tasks that you will eliminate.

The Eisenhower Matrix can be used for bigger projects that requires a broad timeframe. At the same time, it can also be used for daily plans.

10. Don’t Break the Chain

CHOOSE. TRACK. SUSTAIN. Stop your procrastination by following this system developed by Jerry Seinfield. The system involves three steps which are:
  1. Get a calendar. 

  2. Decide on what you want to accomplish each day.

  3. Mark an X over each day that you accomplish your goal.

As the name implies, all you must do is not break the chain, which means you have to repeat the three steps each day. For iOS devices, you can download an app called ‘Don’t Break the Chain’ from the App store.

11. Eat the Frog

Eat that frog uses an analogy with frog as the task. Identify your most important, most difficult task and do it first thing in the morning. Then, the rest of the day will be easy-peasey. The theory is- if you eat a live frog every morning, nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. Not necessarily a great mantra for life but perhaps a great driver for productivity.
Have you tried any of the 11 productivity methodologies mentioned?
You can always change methods if one method is not effective for you. Maybe you can also try tweaking the methods by combining one or two. DM Kathryn and let her know which productivity method you use.
Need help with creating the steps to get more done, see my Sales and Marketing Acceleration coaching programme for hands-on support.
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