During the iamgood event #9, one of the topics we dealt with on “Make more from less” was how to improve one’s productivity.
At iamgood, we don’t just want to have speakers who provide amazing talks and great information, but we believe in sharing practical tools that can be used in your life. We want to create interaction and give everyone a chance to share their own ideas.
Productivity Needs Practice
So we created a workshop section where 5 discussion groups were created. Each group learned one productivity technique. Examples were given and everyone who attended this event had a chance to apply the method they learned in their personal lives.
Here are some of the methods shared on how to increase your productivity:
1) DON’T BREAK THE CHAIN
This method was created to help maintain a daily habit that will be beneficial to your productivity – personally or professionally. The question is, why keep up a habit anyway? According to research, our daily habits make 40% of our regular actions, which we do without giving it much thought.
This technique was created by Jerry Seinfeld -actor/comedian/producer in the USA. When he started as a young comedian he knew he had to be able to create jokes that would keep him successful. The only way to do this was to improve his writing skills. He then made a decision to write on a daily basis. To help him keep his daily promise, he got out a calendar, stuck it on the wall and made a huge red x every day after he wrote. This gave him the motivation to cross on the calendar every single day and he never broke that chain. It didn’t matter if it was two sentences or one. As long as he wrote every day and had the satisfaction to put that huge red x on his calendar, he felt great.
The participants were asked to do the same. Write out one personal goal that they would like to work on every day for 30 days. This is something that you would like to do on a daily basis and improve about yourself.
We then went through ways to be accountable for our actions, for the days we won’t feel like doing that activity. Accountability boosts action.
2) Getting Things Done® (GTD)
This is a way to increase productivity by structuring your incoming tasks. This method was developed by David Allen and it has 5 steps.
Record everything that comes in your way (emails, calls, information, tasks of all sort) in a single place – the Inbox – so you can continue working on your current task.
Once you are ready to look at your inbox, go through each item and ask yourself: is this actionable?
- No: Is it important?
- Yes: Put it on a “Someday” list (I use the Safari Reading List for such things; Pocket is great too)
- No: Trash it
- Yes: Does it take less than 2 minutes?
- Yes: Do it right now
- No: Can I delegate it?
- Yes: Delegate it and create a task to follow up if you need to be involved
- No: Put it on a separate list
Give those tasks that are on the list for later a category (e. g. “Private” or “Project X”) and a deadline
Look at your lists regularly. I personally reorganize or a least double check every morning and try to have a clear list every evening. And don’t forget to look into your archive of possibly interesting content. I have a task which reminds me to go through my Safari reading list every two months.
This is when you actually work on your tasks.
A shortcut is to give every task you record a date immediately (usually on the day you want to work on it) and a category. That way, it will automatically come up on your Today list, when it is time to work on it. One can also see how many tasks are to be done weekly for example by next week Tuesday and how many open tasks you have in each project.
Favorite GTD Apps
- Things 3. Because it does so many things out of the box.
- Todoist would be a free alternative that works fine too – I just prefer native apps.
- Another free option is the stock apps like Apple Reminders for example. But you will probably miss some essential features there like automatically moving tasks to your Today If you prefer a more sophisticated tool, OmniFocus could do the job. They also have a great video where they explain GTD.
Book recommendation: Getting Things Done by David Allen
3) Changing Habits
The goal was to change our habits in order to fight procrastination because procrastiantion is the biggest enemy of productivity. The assumption was that procrastination is also just one of our habits. So we talked about our habits – how they form and how we can influence them. We tried to identify some of our bad habits by looking into their structure:
Cue, Procedure, and reward. By trying to change the procedure or avoiding certain cues we are able to change. At the end, everybody was released with the task of observing and analyzing their typical procrastination behavior as the first step in changing them.
Book recommendation: The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg
4) Bullet Journal
This is a method to keep track of things with a Bullet Journal. What is a bullet Journal? It’s a flexible easy-to-use system to organize your task. It’s an analog system for a digital world to track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future. All you need is a notebook and a pen. The beauty is that you can totally adjust it to your needs.
The Bullet Journal is based on a couple core modules that will get you started.
- Start with the index on the first blank spread. On these two pages, you will create a guide to your pages over time.
- The next spread is the future log. This is where you have all your important events and due dates in a quick overview.
- The Monthly Log takes the next 2 pages. Add the name of the month on both pages. On the left side write down all the dates of the month in a single column. That’s the calendar.
- On the right page is your monthly task list. Write down all the things you need to get done this month. Before each task draw a task bullet which is just a simple dot.
- The monthly log provides you with a bird’s eye view of everything you need to get done in a month and the time you have to do it with.
- Finally, you have your daily log. Start by writing today’s date then start adding entries.
Entries are logged using short bulleted sentences. Each entry goes into one of three categories. Tasks indicated by a Bullet, events indicated by Circle bullet and Notes indicated by the Dash.
The ones that you’ve completed mark by an X.
This is the very basis of creating your first Bullet Journal. This system is really likable as it’s designed to help you focus on the things that are worth your time. It’s a difference between being busy and being productive.
© Pictures by Franziska Liehl