Everyone wants productivity, right? You want to get more work done in less time with focused attention and minimum distractions. But in this digital era, overcoming distractions calls for a systematic approach related to productivity improvement techniques to help you keep going and get your tasks done efficiently, wasting as little time as possible.
In the last few blogs we talked about increasing productivity by:
• Reading the best books for productivity
• Taking inspiration from productivity hacks of famous people
• Tips for increasing productivity and overcoming procrastination
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But what if you had a completely defined framework to boost your productivity level? Read here to get an overview of the different types of techniques for productivity out there and find the one that suits you the best.
1. Personal Kanban
Personal Kanban has taken the world by storm. With just three simple lists -
• Backlog- To-do tasks
• In-progress- Tasks in progress
• Done- Tasks already completed
With its simple design and visual appeal, Personal Kanban has become the go-to tool for many people out there. It helps you visualize your tasks and track your progress in a much systematic manner. So, now you can say goodbye to cluttered notebooks and forgotten tasks.
Here’s how it works:
Add all your to-dos to the Backlog/To-Do list and prioritise them by deadline or urgency. As you work, move tasks to the Doing/In-Progress list. Move completed tasks to the Done list and attain the satisfaction of a job well done.
Personal Kanban is simple and elegant. It's simple to use and track. It also helps you visualise and stay motivated.
However, there are drawbacks. Long to-do lists are overwhelming. Managing multiple tasks on one board is messy. Personal Kanban is a great approach to stay organised and reach your goals.
2. Eat the Frog
Are you tired of starting your day with a long to-do list and feeling overwhelmed before you even get started? Don’t worry, ‘Eat the Frog’ is here to save your day.
The phrase 'Eat the Frog' suggests tackling the most important and challenging task of the day first thing in the morning, giving you a sense of accomplishment and clarity for the rest of the day.
So, what's the process? Make a list of all your tasks and rank them by priority and urgency. Next, pick the hardest task on your list and finish it first. This might mean setting aside a specific time block to work on the task, or simply making it a priority before moving on to anything else. And, by removing the most daunting task from your to-do list, you'll be able to make the rest of the day easier.
The beauty of this approach is that it helps you stay focused and motivated throughout the day.
3. Must, Should, Want
This productivity improvement technique is an excellent way to strike a balance between different requirements and prioritize your tasks effectively.
To get started, create a list of "I must," "I should," and "I want to" items at the start of the day. List all your must-dos first. To keep your life and work operating smoothly, these things are essential.
Next, list the tasks you should complete. These tasks are essential but not as pressing as the tasks in the "I must" category. Based on your day's goals, prioritise these tasks.
Finally, list the tasks you want to complete. These tasks aren't as significant as the "I must" and "I should" ones. These tasks aren't important, but you can do them if you have time.
It helps you focus and prioritise things by priority and urgency. Additionally, to help you balance work and life, it also considers your personal preferences.
4. Time blocking
Time blocking helps you effectively get what you’re seeking, getting more work done in less time. It divides work sessions into blocks and assigns specific tasks to each block.
Here's how it works: Start by scheduling tasks for the day. Schedule breaks, meals, and non-work activities. During each block of time, focus solely on the task assigned to that block. This helps you finish the most important activities and organise your day.
Time blocking helps you find hidden free time which you can use for hobbies or extra work.
Remember that not everything can be planned. New tasks are hard to estimate. Time blocking might also be too rigid. However, it can boost productivity and help you reach your goals with practice and flexibility.
5. Zen to Done
Zen to Done (ZTD) is a productivity strategy based on Getting Things Done (GTD) but focused on personal growth and habit optimization. ZTD, like GTD, requires you to list all your thoughts and choose the most critical activities for the day. This reduces stress and clarifies your tasks.
ZTD makes productivity easier and it is a great way to help you stay to a schedule.
ZTD takes time and requires new habits. You don't need to hurry from one task to the next, as the focus is on forming new habits and improving personal development.
Overall, ZTD optimises behaviours and boosts productivity. You can change your workstyle and attain your goals with patience and effort.
6. The Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix is a great productivity tool or prioritization system that helps you manage your time and efforts efficiently. It categorizes tasks based on their level of urgency and importance, allowing you to focus on what truly matters. The four quadrants of the matrix are:
1) Important & Urgent- Tasks that require immediate attention and are crucial to your success.
2) Important & Not Urgent- Tasks that are important to your success but do not require immediate attention.
3) Not Important & Urgent- Tasks that require immediate attention but are not crucial to your success.
4) Not Important & Not Urgent- Tasks that are neither urgent nor important to your success.
You may better manage your time by using the Eisenhower Matrix to choose which task should be done first. Avoid unimportant and non urgent tasks and focus on urgent and important ones. This helps you work faster, become productive and attain your goals.
It's not always easy to categorise tasks. Overall, the Eisenhower Matrix is a simple yet powerful tool that may help you prioritise work, manage time, and be more productive.
7. Pomodoro/ Sprints
For people who have trouble remaining focused, the Pomodoro approach can help. The method incorporates 25-minute work sessions. A timer lets you focus on one task for the entire session, letting you get more done in less time.
Simple. Create a list of tasks and divide them into 25-minute sessions. Work for 15 minutes, then take a 5-minute rest. Repeat the process, taking a longer 15-minute break after every four sessions.
This method is advantageous. It encourages regular breaks, boosts productivity, and improves attention. However, it may happen that 25-minute sessions may not be long enough for intense work, the timer may go off at an inconvenient moment, and not all tasks fit into 25-minute sessions. Overall, the Pomodoro method is a useful tool for those looking to boost their productivity and manage their time more effectively.
8. Getting Things Done (GTD)
GTD, as a productivity technique, helps you organise and reach your goals. It simplifies tasks into five steps: capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage.
First, list all tasks, small as well as significant. Next, define and prioritise activities by breaking them down into smaller, actionable steps.
In the third step, categorise tasks into a calendar or to-do list. The step four entails reviewing your progress and adjusting your system.
Finally, start working and finish it by focusing on one task at a time. This approach organises tasks in one place, liberating the mind from attempting to remember everything.
While GTD can be a powerful tool for productivity, it requires discipline and structure to be effective. Failure to update the system regularly might result in an overwhelming work list, making it impossible to keep on track.
By familiarizing yourself with 8 effective techniques for improving productivity, you have taken the first step towards streamlining your task completion process. However, you should note that selecting the most appropriate method for your individual traits is key. Don't hesitate to experiment with various techniques and adjust as needed, as it's common to switch methods if you find your current approach to be ineffective. Ultimately, finding the method that works best for you will be crucial in maximizing your productivity.