11 Productivity Hacks To Keep You Focused To Finish
Save time and effort by learning more about these productivity techniques today!
There are certain days that we just have too much on our plate and we don’t even know where to start. And then when it’s time to face the truth and get some serious work done, we would like to hustle and be the most productive person we can ever be. The good news is, there are a lot of productivity methods that you can follow so you can get your productivity groove on. You just have to find a methodology that fits your unique 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 by gathering a list of methodologies you can choose from and to help you find out what will work for you. These are:
- Getting Things Done (GTD)
- The SMART Method
- Biological Prime Time
- Personal Kanban
- The “To-Do” list
- The “Must Do” list
- Pomodoro Technique
- Eisenhower Matrix
- Don’t Break The Chain
- Eat The Frog
Getting things done (GTD)
Getting Things Done (GTD) is a time management method from productivity consultant David Allen. GTD, as described in the book of the same title, starts in listing all the tasks that you need to do. After than you can categorize it in 6 areas of focus which are:
- Current actions
- Current projects
- Areas of responsibility
- 1-2-year goals
- 3-5-year goals
- Life goals
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 measure your progress.
- Attainable. This is very important. Is the goal you’ve defined actually 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 asses 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 saving money to buy for a pair of shoes. Instead, you would want to save money for one month and then buy a pair of shoes.
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.
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.
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 labeled 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.
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 the start of the net 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’m in my personal time. I always have my phone with me so it makes sense to use a note-taking app.
The “Must-Do” List
A variation of the “To-Do” list, the “Must Do” list involves categorising your tasks whether it be personal or work-related stuff. Here’s what you need to do:
- Pick your medium to work in. You can keep it old school and simple by using paper or you can use advanced technologies and download apps that offers organisation and productivity features. 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 to 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.
The Pomodoro Technique
Similar with GTD, Pomodoro Technique is also a time management method which makes use of a timer to break down work into 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:
- Decide on the task to be done.
- Set the timer to 25 minutes.
- Work on the task until the timer rings.
- Take a 5-minute break.
- Repeat steps 1-4 three more times.
- Take a 15-minute break.
- Repeat steps 1-6.
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.
- Urgent and important – Tasks in this quadrant are important tasks that needs to be done immediately.
- Important, but not urgent – Tasks in this quadrant will be schedule to do later.
- Urgent, but not important – These are tasks that you will delegate to someone else.
- Neither urgent nor important – These are tasks that you will eliminate.
Eisenhower Matrix can be used for bigger projects that requires broad timeframe. At the same time, it can also be used for daily plans.
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:
- Get a calendar.
- Decide on what you want to accomplish each day.
- Mark an X over each day that you accomplish your goal.
As the name implies, all you have to do is do not break the chain which means you have to repeat the three steps each day. For iOS devices, an application of the same name can be downloaded from App Store.
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 would be easy-peasey. Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.
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. Let me know in the comments – which productivity method do you use? Or which one would you like to try?