Last Summer, I was taking two online classes and working 18 hours a week.
“This Summer is a little busy, but I’m keeping up.” I thought to myself.
Now, I’m laughing at that. I’m so much busier this Summer even though I’m taking any classes. Instead, I’m working on my blog, getting my ducks in a row since I graduate next year, keeping up with the demands of my club, and trying to hang out with my family as much as possible. Not to mention, I’m trying to stay informed about current events. Last year was easy mode.
My saving grace: I’m more aware of how to be more productive.
Honestly, I’m not that great at being productive, but I’m improving and doing more than I ever thought I could. Here are some of the best productivity methods I came across:
The Pomodoro Technique
This technique has been gaining a ton of traction in the last few years. Basically, you work for a set amount of time, then take a break. With this method, you use a timer to determine how long you work before you take a break. An example would be working for 50 minutes then taking a 5-minute break.
I really like The Pomodoro Technique, but it does not work well with my personality. The way I get around this is taking on a certain task and stop working with a get too distracted. Afterward, I walk for a while and return back to my work space. My head is clearer, and I take a break when it feels right.
Who doesn’t like a good old to-do list? It states your priorities for the day and helps keep you focused. Also, crossing out a task after you complete it feels so good! That being said, to-do lists can kill your productivity if you have too many tasks for the day. Finding the right balance has always been a struggle for me.
I’ll never forget the great advice my former club president told us. “At the end of each night, you should cross out what you haven’t done as well. That way, you will keep from dragging into your tasks for the next day.” I love that piece of advice because it’s to put unfinished tasks for the next day. The worst part is that the unfinished tasks from yesterday might not be important, yet these tasks distract you the next day
The Get Efficient Prioritization Matrix
This matrix was created by Amber McCue from Niceops.com. A good chunk of the battle to become more productive is sorting out your priorities. According to her article about The Get Efficient Prioritization Matrix, It helps you figure out the following:
* What should you outsource
* What should you keep doing
* What should you systematize
The matrix does this by evaluating how long a task takes you and whether you hate or love doing it. From there, you can see the recommendation to either outsource it, keep doing it, or systematize it.
I’m in love with this matrix because it’s so different than a lot of the productivity methods I’ve come across. I especially love how it brings outsourcing and systematization to the table. Doing more outsourcing and systematization allows you to be more productive.
Focus on your most important task
We are surrounded by distractions around us, it’s easy to not move forward on the task at hand. Jumping from task to task makes it seem like we’re being productive, but that’s a lie. Sometimes, going the “slow” way by focusing on the top task you need to do today helps you go faster.
Even though I know having only one set task for the day will make me more productive, I like thinking that I’m going to get multiple things in one day. It drives me. If that’s you too, you can still use a modified version of focusing on your “one” thing. I set 2-5 tasks for the day, and once I finish a few of them, I can add another task to the list. This keeps from creating an enormous to-do list while forcing me to focus on the task at hand.
Go with the flow
How many times have we’ve been in the mood to accomplish our tasks, yet found an excuse to not do it? Writing every day tends to be the task I neglect the most. I would get in a mood to write something, but I would just focus on another task on my to-do list. Sometimes, we’re the middle of a task when the mood to do something else important hits us. Go for it!
If you can shift to doing that task when you’re in the mood to do it, you’ll get more done and not feel like it was a burden. Maybe, you can’t stop to do the task. For example, you might be in the middle of hanging out with friends, when you feel the urge to work on a personal project. For that, I advise knowing what triggers you to get in that mood and duplicate the triggers as best as you can.
We’re bombarded with ways to be more productive, but we have to find the ones that work best for us. The best part about knowing different productivity methods is that we can modify the methods to fit our personality and lifestyle.