We have all caught ourselves wishing for more hours in a day, for deadline extensions, and for a less flooded inbox. None of these wishes are in our control. Today, I will share four productivity techniques that have worked for me and are incredibly easy to apply. Implement them and you won’t need to wish for Genie!
1) Reinvent the to-do lists
Don’t we loathe those lists? Yet, how can we live without them? You can increase your productivity by making emotional lists. Don’t title them “TO DO”. Instead, create separate lists targeting the emotions you would feel when you’re done with those tasks. Examples:
I will be so proud, elated, and feeling accomplished!
– schedule Master’s defense
– finish analyzing data
– edit manuscript
I will be dirt broke if I don’t do this:
– file tax
– deposit checks
2) Schedule specific times for your tasks
Let’s further reinvent your to-do lists. You don’t make a habit of skipping meetings, do you? And why is that? Because they’re scheduled. So do the same for your tasks! Set specific times to accomplish them. This process is made incredibly easy by using FREE app Timeful. This app seamlessly integrates your tasks and calendar. After adding your to-do’s, you can drag them right onto your daily calendar – in the midst of your events – so you can always have realistic expectations of how much can get done per day. Timeful also suggests healthy habits (i.e. take a walk) and recommends the optimal time to achieving them based on your existing calendar. It’s truly your BFF in electronic form.
3) Log how you spend your time
Rescue Time starts logging all your activities the moment you turn on your computer/laptop. It categorizes everything you do as either productive or distractive. Then, weekly, it will email your productivity report. You can quickly analyze it to see what applications/websites steal most of your time and resolve to restrict access to them. Are there certain sites you wish to restrict access to (i.e. Facebook)? You can use SelfControl for Mac users, LeechBlock for Firefox users, or StayFocusd for Chrome users to block any sites you wish.
4) Employ the Pomodoro technique
Focus your attention to a specific task for an allotted amount of time, then take a short break. Rinse. Repeat. In the 1980s, Francesco Cirillo, who invented this technique, recommended working for 25 minutes and taking a 5 minutes break. Researchers now believe it’s best to work for 57 minutes and break for 12. Whatever your time combination, stick to it. The toughest part of finishing a task is to start it! With this technique, it takes the pressure off of completing something. Simply, it only asks that you stay committed to a task for a certain amount of time. Then, see where you are with it. Take a short break to replenish yourself. Leaving a task at a cliffhanger actually makes your brain craves it, much like how TV shows leave you with a cliffhanger. You therefore will be more excited to continue an unfinished task. With multiple Pomodoro sessions, you will eventually finish your task. Try the 30/30 app to help you stay on your Pomodoro schedule!
Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed with mountains of to-do’s. Make your tasks more fun by attaching positive (or avoiding negative) emotions in performing them. Then, schedule those tasks! Try performing them using the Pomodoro technique. Don’t be clueless as how your day has gone to waste. Let Rescue Time inform your habits and work to strengthen your weak spots.