When faced with task after task at work or school, our minds tend to go blank from overworking and we fall into the deadly loop of procrastination. It makes us lazy, cripples our decision-making skills, and just simply makes us feel unmotivated. It’s not too late to shake free from the clutches of laziness! Now that the school year is here, here are productivity techniques we can all benefit from. Remember, intentions don’t count, just do it!
1. Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo
The Pomodoro Technique developed by Francesco Cirillo allows you to focus on your work or any task at hand by breaking it into short, sustained bursts. The Pomodoro Technique works by setting your timer to 25 minutes, during this time, you have to focus on your work and avoid any distractions. After that you’re allowed a 5 minute break thus completing one “pomodoro.” When you’ve completed 4 pomodoros, you can have a 30-minute break to recharge yourself.
It is the easiest productivity technique you’ll encounter, all you need to have is a timer, sheer willpower, and discipline. This technique works because it allows you to allot right amounts of time for work and for break. That is, if you don’t get lured by the social media apps pinging on your phone.
2. Getting Things Done by David Allen
GTD is a book and a method by David Allen which works like this: collect or write down all your to-dos and tasks, clarify and break down your to-dos into actionable steps and arrange them in hierarchal order, add the details such as due dates, review your list and decide what to do next or first, and then work! GTD focuses on getting all of the to-dos out of your head and putting them on paper so your brain isn’t cluttered.
It sounds confusing but really if you’re a pen-and-paper kind of person, just write everything you need to do, arrange it according to importance, and work your way from top to bottom. If you work better with visuals, put them in sticky notes, that way you can remove the notes and feel productive after you’ve done them.
If you’re interested in knowing more, read a free copy of Getting Things Done here.
3. The Flowtime Technique
If you find you’re too intimidated by the timer in the Pomodoro technique, why not do things in reverse? The Flowtime Technique gives you more freedom to do your tasks by timing the minutes you spend working and the minutes you spend on a break.
Once you start on one specific task, record the time you started and record the time you stopped. Stop your timer when you need a break and start it again after your break. This way, in the long run, you can see how long you’ve worked, your most productive times, and the correlation between the lengths of breaks to work time.
Here’s a handy Cheat Sheet from Medium.
4. Personal Kanban
Much like the Getting Things Done method, Personal Kanban requires you to list all your to-dos or put them in different sticky notes. You can then arrange these notes in a Kanban board separated by three columns: “Backlog,” “Doing,” and “Done.” This allows you to see your progress and where you’re at at-a-glance, a perfect method for people who are more visual. If you want to know the importance of each task, you can also color code them, red Post-It for urgent, yellow for low priority, etc.
5. Try a mix of each method
We each prefer and require a different method to motivate us and make us productive. What works for you might not work for other people. The Pomodoro technique and the idea of a timer might stress you out or mess you up when you’re already “in the zone,” likewise the sight of a whole block of to-dos in the Getting Things Done method might be too much for you.
Work on a method that you’ll be comfortable with, customize your own technique. Tweak them all into what will work for you better. What’s important is at the end of the day there are cross marks on your to-do list!
6. DIY Method: Start with the easiest tasks first
If you want to start your own method, start with the easiest task first. Contrary to popular belief, starting on a huge chunk of work just because it looks like it’s the one that needs more attention is actually counterproductive. Start with the easiest and smallest tasks first so you can get them off your plate earlier. Once all those are done, you can focus all your attention to huge projects.
7. Use productivity apps
Phones are one of our biggest tools for procrastination but it can also be one of the tools that could help us work better. Download these apps on your phone for better productivity! It’s also important to remember that you should be the one controlling your phone and not the other way around.
Forest: Stay focused (iOS, Android) keeps you from using your phone so you can concentrate on your tasks. It works by “planting” a seed which will eventually grow into a bush or a tree based on the time you choose. If you plant a seed, you can’t exit the app until the timer runs out. If you do, the seed will die and you’ll get a forest full of dead trees.
Sectograph (Android) is a Google events visualization in the form of a 12-hour clock face so you can see how your day will go. It’s a calendar in hour form. You just have to put your tasks for the day and it will automatically arrange the tasks in pies so you can better monitor your to-do list during the day. Using Sectograph will also make you extra aware of the time and your schedule.
Habitica (iOS, Android) is a video game that works by “gamifying” your life and all your chores. It turns your tasks into small monsters you have to conquer. It helps you improve your productivity and habits while you’re having fun levelling up and catching rare gear at the same time.
Evernote (iOS, Android) remains one of the more popular to-do list apps out there. It lets you organize your to-do list on the go and is complete with a checklist, add images, scan documents, and create hand written notes.
8. Keep a healthy diet and have enough sleep
A proper diet and right amount of sleep can do wonders to your lazy and unmotivated body. Try doing away with the junk food, sweets, and fried food and replace them with vegetables, nuts, fruits, you’ll feel the difference in your energy level. Likewise having little sleep, sleeping very late, or oversleeping will give you a sluggish feeling. You might not be able to perform well or even concentrate on your tasks. Try getting at least 7 hours of sleep and making a habit of getting up before the sun rises.
Have you tried any of these methods? Share your experience with us below!