1. To-Do Lists
They just. Don’t. Work!
There! I said it! To-do lists don’t work. I used to search for productivity tips and everyone was all about to-do lists.
But the truth is they don’t work. Not on their own, and not as lists.
Sure, you can start with a list and write everything you have/want to do, but then you need to put them into your calendar and see how many tasks you can fit into your day.
But dumping all of them on a list and believing that tomorrow, you’ll wake up and you’ll be full of energy and just… do all this stuff you were bored out of your mind to do today… nope! It’s just a fantasy.
Planning your day is great and it can be very helpful, but only if you do it right.
For me, the best way to go about it is by using a bullet journal. You could also use a calendar, but honestly, I prefer a bullet journal since you can make it exactly how you want it. You can have all the space you need for every day/week/month and you can organise it however you want.
A nice guide is the one below. It’s the one that helped me start with a bullet journal. Now, I’ve adjusted it a little bit to fit my needs, but it’s definitely a great place to start!
Prioritising is essential if you want to be productive.
Choosing to focus on the right tasks can change your day from merely busy to highly productive. (To give an example: Deleting a thousand emails is just busy while writing two articles is highly productive.)
Don’t forget that your energy is a finite source, so make sure you spend it on the right things.
Choose the most important thing of your list and make it the first thing you’ll do after waking up. The one task on your list that if you complete it, that day can be considered a success.
Do this every day when making your to-do list for the day after. When I started using this tip, my productivity went crazy high!
The Eisenhower Matrix
Something that can help you with prioritising is the Eisenhower Matrix. It’s an easy and fun way to prioritise your tasks.
- Start by writing down all the tasks you want to complete.
- Sketch a 2×2 matrix on a piece of paper.
- Put each a task in one of the following boxes.
1. If a task is urgent and important, then do it now.
Easy enough. These are the tasks that need to be done ASAP!
2. If a task isn’t urgent, but it is important, then do it later. But do it!
It’s very easy to neglect these tasks and never start them because they’re not urgent and they’re – usually – difficult to start. It’s easier to spend an hour deleting emails than starting a book or an online business.
But these tasks are the ones that can make you truly happy. They may be difficult, but they’re definitely worth your time and your effort.
3. If a task isn’t urgent, but it is important, then delegate it.
If you can’t delegate it, then try to batch the tasks or do them at a time when you know you won’t be very productive. Keep your most productive hours for the most important tasks.
4. If a task isn’t urgent and it’s not important, then why even bother?
Now, of course, some of the tasks we want to do for fun aren’t important nor urgent. For example, going out for a movie or watching your favourite TV show.
I’m not saying to remove them from your life entirely – although, admittedly, it’d be productive. But you can reduce the time you spend on them.
If you need help with your Eisenhower Matrix, check this out!
3. Don’t Multitask
There are few people that are good at multitasking – if any. But for most of us, multitasking is not easy and, definitely, not productive.
Trying to do more than one thing at a time takes more time than doing all of your tasks one by one. And during working on them, there’s always this feeling of working but going nowhere.
Why? Because you don’t finish anything. You don’t get the satisfaction of completing a task.
Also, while jumping from one task to another, you lose your focus and you waste time – and energy – to start working on the new task!
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that if I have a big task, I’ll do all of it at once.
For example, I’ve never written a post in one sitting. And when I’ve done it, I’ve always come back the next days to fix or add something I thought afterwards.
How do I usually go about it? I split my writing into phases.
- Phase 1: I find the topic and I outline the post. (While doing this, I usually write part of the post, as well.)
- Phase 2: I write the post (First Pass). I go through what I’ve written in Phase 1 and I write more about the topic. In this phase, I don’t worry about mistakes – or if it even makes total sense. I just write.
- Phase 3: I write the post (Second Pass). During this Phase, I finish my writing. Then, I go through the post and add whatever else I need.
- Phase 4: I edit the post and fix whatever mistakes I’ve done (spelling, grammar). I also read it a couple of times to see how it flows.
* I leave at least a day between the phases so that I can have the time to think about the post. Not actively thinking about it, but throughout my day, I’ll get random thoughts about how I can improve my post and what else I can write in it.
That means it’ll take at least 4 days for me to write a post from start to end. Does that mean this is all I’m doing these days?
No! I’ll just do other things, as well!
This splitting-into-phases process also helps me stop procrastinating. If I start writing a post expecting it to be perfect when I finish with it, it’s difficult for me to start.
But if I say to myself this is only a part of it and I can fix it tomorrow, then it’s easier for me to start. Because I don’t expect it to be perfect.
I don’t even know if this makes sense, but it’s working for me, so I use it. 😀
4. Remove Distractions
It’s difficult to focus if your phone rings all the time, if you get stupid notifications, or you get ads all around the place while working on your computer.
Especially when writing, when all you need is to focus on the content, you can’t afford to lose your attention if you want to write your post fast.
A handy tool I found is Calmly Writer. It’s a free, online (you can also use it offline) tool you can use to write distraction-free.
This can work to keep your desktop distractions away, but it’s not enough. Don’t forget to:
- Put your phone on silent mode or at least, turn off the Wi-fi on your phone.
- Don’t go into any social media accounts. (Just because it’s on a different tab doesn’t mean it can’t distract you!)
Staying focused isn’t that difficult as long as you get prepared for it.
5. Batch Tasks
Any tasks you do on a daily/weekly basis and aren’t time-sensitive, do them all together instead of one-by-one.
- Topic research
- Keyword research
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
You may think that it won’t make a difference, but just try it. Try to write all your posts for the whole month and see how it goes.
Not only will you be more productive this way, but you also get in the mood and work more than you would if you had to stop and then start again.
Plus, you have the time to think again about your posts before you publish them. Maybe you want to add something or remove something. Maybe you want to change something.
In any case, you have the time to rethink about what you’ve written this way.
6. The Pomodoro Technique
I’m actually using this technique right now!
Using the Pomodoro Technique will help you work way more efficiently than you ever did before. You’ll work less time but you’ll be more focused on your tasks.
7. Just Get Rolling
Ever heard of the 2-minute rule?
I usually apply it as a 2-hour rule for my blog, to be honest. But for anything else… yep! All you need to get rolling is 2 minutes!
8. FREE Tools To Make Your Life Easier
If you can make your life easier, do it!
Working smart is hard work. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
You don’t have to work 12 hours a day to be productive. If you can focus and do the whole day’s work in 5-6 hours, good for you! Don’t you dare feel guilty for it!
So here are some tools you can use to improve your productivity. Not everyone is the same, so check them out and start using the ones that help YOU!
On brain.fm, you can listen to music that improves your productivity, meditation or sleep. I like working with music, so for me, it’s worth giving it a try.
Heads up: It needs some minutes to start working, so try it for at least 15 minutes. Personally, it took me a couple of times to see an effect on me, but once it did…
Write Or Die
Some people work well under pressure, some don’t. If you want to see which group you belong with, check out Write Or Die.
You can choose the Stimulus mode to help you get going or the Consequence mode to prevent you from stopping. You can even choose the Kamikaze mode in which the text gets deleted one by one letter if you stop writing for a long time!
Talk about motivation to keep working!
Trello is an online tool you can use to stay organised. You can create projects, tasks and checklists to plan your day, your projects, etc. If you like being organised, then this is the tool for you.
It’s also a great tool if you work with a team. You can split the work and everyone will know which stage the project is in, what each person does, when to move on to the next stage, etc.
Grammarly is a great tool for extra proofreading. No matter how well you write, there will always be a few mistakes you’ll make – especially if you write fast. So having a little extra help can do no harm!
Especially if it’s free!
9. Take A Break
Take a break every once in a while. You don’t want to burn out and this is a little too easy when you start something you’re passionate about.
You work too much in the beginning, but after a while, you don’t feel like doing anything.
So don’t forget to schedule breaks throughout the week and also, throughout the day.
These breaks will be useful for you:
- First, to calm down and relax a little
- Second, in case something goes wrong and there’s an emergency, you’ll have time in your day to deal with it without “destroying” the whole schedule.
Habits Of Effective People
Here is a great video I found on Pick Up Limes. Check it out if you want!
So this is it! These are my best productivity tips! I promise I haven’t held anything back.
I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me!
So… what are your productivity tips? Let us know in the comments below!
If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer! Any suggestions are always welcome, so tell me about topics you’d like me to write. And if you liked this, check out how to plan your day better.
See you next time!
Hi there, I’m Jenny.
Blogger/Internet Marketer/ Occasionally Cool Person
Want to get in touch?
If you have any questions, suggestions or just want to say hello, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. If you’re nice, I won’t bite!
And if you notice any grammar and/or spelling mistakes, please let me know. I’ll owe you a favour!