Over the years I have read hundreds of articles and books. I’ve been inspired by people like Thomas Frank, David Allen, Mat D’Avella and Ali Abdaal. And I have listened to thousands of podcasts and talks and this has given me a wealth of information on productivity tips. The aim of this article is hopefully to give you a few productivity tips that you can quickly apply to your life.
I will briefly touch on each point, but eventually my hope is to write an article about each topic.
1. Priorities lists are better than todo lists
This is a trap that I see so many people fall into when they first start using a digital todo list application or system. There is a euphoria that comes with adding all your tasks to a task management system. This euphoria can sometimes lull us into a false sense of Productivity. Productivity after all, is getting things done, not just thinking about getting them done. Over the years I have found that a “Priorities” list serves me better. This is a list of the most important tasks for each day. All my energy and focus goes into ticking those 1 – 3 priorities off. Todo lists often devolve into wish lists of things that we’d like to eventually get done that never come true.
2. Plan your day
This point goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. However, I believe it’s important enough to have it’s own special place here. Planning your day is something that is so underrated. It’s important for two reasons: 1. It sets the tone of your day and helps you keep focused on what is important. 2. It allows you to reflect on what you have achieved, and overall, it will make you feel more productive since you’re actively tracking what you have achieved.
The documentary “The Social dilemma” talks about this extensively – Phones, social media and many other apps that we use are engineered to hold our attention for as long as possible. It’s what is known as the “attention economy”. Essentially, these pieces of technology that we carry in our pockets are designed to be addictive. You can fight against that and reclaim your phone as a useful tool.
4. Say “No” more
One aspect of human nature is that we love to please people. One way we often do that is by saying “yes” to far too much. Often, when you’re in the heat of a conversation we will say “yes” to invitations and requests that we later regret agreeing to. Rather, instead of saying “yes” say “Can I get back to you about that later?”
Having a don’t do list is inspired by this principle: “When we have a list of rules that govern what we shouldn’t be doing, we have a lot more time for things we should be doing.”
6. Clear to neutral – Have a shutdown routine
One of the reasons that people are so stressed all the time is because they carry so much information about work in their heads about work, when they’re not at work. A shutdown routine allows you to store that information and get your mind out of work related topics and actually relax when you’re not at work.
7. Time Blocking + Pomodoro Technique = Insane focus and flow
These are two very popular productivity techniques, together I have personally found that they lead to my most productive work output.
8. GTD doesn’t work
GTD stands for “Getting things done” by David Allen. His book, “getting things done” is actually the book that started my productivity journey, but, I have found that while his ideas are great, no productivity system can be copied verbatim since everyone is different and we need to find systems that compliment how we work and think. GTD is great, but it doesn’t work in certain environments. I have however, been able to glean lots of helpful tips from this book that I continue to use to this day.
9. Have an inbox
the brain is for ideas not storing information
There is not too much to say about this, but quite simply, have a space. A book, an app, a digital note app, anything really – that allows you to quickly capture information.
10. Write notes
Writing notes allows you to store thoughts, ideas and other useful pieces of information that you come by. Writing notes is one of the best ways to create content or develop ideas.
If you have any productivity tips that you find especially helpful, tweet them to me @ross_d_g and I may include them in future blogs for videos.