Nothing feels worse than having a never-ending to-do list. Even if you work extra hours, you still can't seem to finish all your tasks. Whether you are in school, at an office, or work from home, we all want to work as efficiently as possible to make that money. If only there was an easy way to increase your productivity!
Guess what? There is something! No matter what type of work you need to schedule your day around, this one tool can help you out. It's small, easy-to-use, and, best of all, super affordable!
Want to know more about this magical productivity booster? Read on!
What Is The Productivity Planner?
Created by Intelligent Change (the same people who brought you The Five-Minute Journal), the Productivity Planner is just what it sounds like. This handy little book was designed to increase your productivity by using simple daily journal pages to track your work.
With time tracking, a notes section, and a place to reflect on how productive you were at the end of each day, this product takes just minutes to fill in but will make your work time so much more efficient. By helping you figure out your priorities for the day, the Productivity Planner ensures you actually complete your vital work instead of blowing it off for less essential tasks.
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The Productivity Planner isn't dated, so you can buy one whenever and start using it that day! Each one includes six months' worth of planning pages with weekly reflection pages, too. It's pretty small and light, making it easily portable for when you are working in a coffee shop or off to a conference. It makes the perfect gift for your Type-A friend or your work wife.
A Guide To The Productivity Planner
At the beginning of each day, you need to prioritize your work tasks. Choose the most important one that you must accomplish, some secondary ones, and finally, tasks that would be nice to finish but aren't super important. Fill these in on your journal page in the proper spots to remind yourself of your priorities.
The main point of the Productivity Planner is quality over quantity. By putting your important tasks first, you get more done on the work that really matters rather than doing a little bit on a lot of different projects or completing work that isn't essential.
Next to each task is a time tracker using the Pomodoro Technique (more on that later). This space is for tracking how much time it takes to complete each task. At the beginning of the workday, you predict how many Pomodoros (25-minute spurts of focused working) it takes to finish the job, then record the actual amount of time when you've finished. Then, you can see how much time you spent on each task so you can predict how long it should take you next time.
But wait, there's more!
Each page also includes a handy notes section that will help you kick that sticky note habit (the environment will thank you for using less paper). This is the place to jot down meetings to remember, ideas that come to you, or shopping lists that pop into your head. Having this stuff in the same place as your productivity tracking ensures you don't forget anything important in your day!
At the end of each day, don't forget to fill out the Productivity Planner's Productivity Score section. Here, you can rate your productivity on a scale of one to ten and write a quick blurb about the day as a whole. You'll be able to track reasons that you may be more or less productive on certain days and find ways you can improve.
It gets better.
Weekly reflection pages also help you work towards your productivity goals. This section is for weekly notes, wins, and things you have learned. You can also write down the tasks you didn't complete (so you know to prioritize them the next week) and your personal goals towards working more productively.
Add in the totally inspiring quote at the top of each page and the gorgeous vegan leather cover, and you have a planner that's irresistible! Whether you're a stationery fiend, are trying to stop procrastinating, or want to grow into the best #girlboss you can be, the Productivity Planner is worth a try.
What Is The Pomodoro Technique?
Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the early 90s, the Pomodoro Technique is a method of breaking down your day to ensure you're as productive as possible. “Pomodoro” means “tomato” in Italian and is a nod to Cirillo's kitchen timer shaped like the fruit that he used to carry out his system.
The gist of the Pomodoro Technique is simple. Whether you have one big task or a series of small ones to accomplish, break down the work into small, timed chunks with short breaks thrown in. It's sort of like a HIIT workout for your tasks. The idea is to entirely focus for a short amount of time and reward yourself with frequent breaks, so you neither procrastinate nor burn out.
Here's how to set up your Pomodoro cycle:
- Figure out what work you need to accomplish. It could be to clear your inbox, write an essay, or even clean out your closet.
- Set your timer for 25 minutes and work until it goes off. No exceptions! This is one Pomodoro. If you get interrupted by a call, meeting, or chatty coworker, you have two choices. You can either end your Pomodoro then and start a new one after the distraction or tell the other person you're busy, finish your time, and get back to them after the timer rings.
- Take a 5-minute (or shorter) break. You can use it to do whatever you want: grab a snack, scroll social media, stretch, etc. These breaks should be just long enough to clear your head a bit.
- Set your timer for your next Pomodoro and start again!
- Every 4 Pomodoros (100 minutes of active work time) take an extended break. This should be between 15 and 30 minutes long and help you fully recharge.
- If you're a visual learner, make checkmarks or circles on a sheet of paper for every Pomodoro it takes you to complete a task. This technique will help you understand how efficiently you worked on that task and can help you schedule your day better next time.
Why It Works
You know that you only have to work for a certain amount of time and then you get a break, so you're more likely to focus during that set work time.
We often work one of two ways that kill our productivity. One, you might dive into your work in the morning and go for hours without stopping. This fries your brain fast, so you'll feel burnt out by lunchtime. On the other side of the coin, you might procrastinate by chatting with coworkers, making coffee, or doing non-essential work.
This method of taking regular breaks helps you avoid both burnout and dragging out your work too long. Even if you don't organize your day with the Productivity Planner, you can still use the Pomodoro Technique to get the most out of your time. Give it a try. I'm sure you'll see an increase in your productivity right away!
More Ways To Increase Your Productivity
Want even more productivity tips to increase your workplace efficiency? Check out the tips below. They'll keep you both productive and stress-free so you can be your best workplace self! You can also watch this helpful video by Becca Bristow below. She shares her favorite ways to stay productive and motivated throughout the day!
Work When You Feel Productive
Everyone has different working styles and times of day when they feel the most productive. In order to get the most work done that you can, try to schedule your day around the times when you have the most energy. Morning person? Schedule important meetings for the start of the day. Night owl? Do mindless tasks in the morning and tackle your harder work once you've fully woken up.
If you are a student or work from home, you can personalize your schedule even more. If completing tasks at 11 PM feels right for you, go for it! I realize that this isn't an option for everyone, but working during your most productive times is a no-brainer.
Follow The 2 Minute Rule
One huge hurdle to productivity is worrying about small, trivial tasks. You get so caught up in the minutia of your to-do list that you forget to work on the most dimportant projects. To avoid this, try adopting the 2-minute rule.
In this method, you think about all the tasks you need to do each day, both big and small. If the task can be completed in under 2 minutes, just do it right then and there! Rather than adding these tiny little things to your to-do list and making it even longer, you get them done and over with. By answering an email, making an appointment, or tidying your desk, you get a sense of accomplishment and stop wasting time and brain space by putting them off for later.
For tasks that take more than 2 minutes to finish, just get started! Putting off bigger projects will only make you more stressed out. Begin your big tasks by starting with a 2-minute chunk of focused work time. Chances are you will gain momentum and roll right into being productive.
Don't Break the Chain
Are you the competitive type? Then you'll love this hack to increase your productivity. Invented by Jerry Seinfeld (yeah, the comedian), the “don't break the chain” method helps you start a good habit by competing with yourself.
To start, set a goal you want to accomplish. This could be something you want to do every day or a larger goal you want to work towards (like getting a promotion). Next, hang an annual calendar in your office in plain view. Finally, make a big ol' X over each day that you do something that helps you get closer to your goal.
For instance, if you want to get all A's in your classes, make an X on each day that you study. Or if you are trying to find a new job, mark every day that you actively searched for open positions.
The whole idea is that you don't want to break the chain of productivity toward your goal. The calendar is a visual reminder of your progress. If you miss a day, it's basically like starting over! Soon this daily work will become part of your routine, making it easier to remember to do and getting you closer to your ultimate goal.
Turn Off Notifications
Let's be honest.
We all know that notifications are time wasters. Seeing your phone light up every time you get a social media comment, message, or email is hella distracting. It's just facts! The only type of “notification” that is essential is a phone call; if someone contacts you another way, they're kind of expecting a delayed response anyway.
So why let notifications dig into your precious work time? Turn them off while you're at the office so you can focus and get shit done!
This tip works hand-in-hand with the Pomodoro Technique incredibly well. Rather than being distracted by constant “dings” from your phone and computer, you can simply use your break times to check any account you might be expecting a notification from. You might find that immediately knowing about every “like” isn't as relevant to you after a while!
Everyone wants to be more productive at work. However, it can be difficult to find ways to clear out that long to-do list! Hopefully, these tips will make you work faster and more efficiently. The Productivity Planner is such a great tool because it's so easy to use and will boost your productivity instantly!
Do you own the Productivity Planner? Have you ever worked using the Pomodoro Technique? What are your best tips to increase your productivity at school or work? Let us know in the comments below!