It’s a new year so you’ve brought yourself a new notebook and sharpened your pencils with the resolution to start fresh, be productive and get organised!
Sometimes this can sound easier than it is to actually achieve. So we wanted to share six methods to help you get more done and feel more productive with various tried & tested methods — because let’s face it, not one size fits all.
Find one (or two) that you think will work for you, give it a go… and let us know how you go!
1. Bullet Journalling Method
With increasingly busy lives, most of us gravitate towards tools and methods that will help us feel more organised and more in control throughout the year.
One such organisational method has been created by New York Art Director, Ryder Carroll. He has essentially taken an empty notebook and turned it into a cross between a diary, a to-do list, a catalogue of important tasks and even a means of prioritisation. He calls it an ‘analogue note-taking system for a digital age’. The bullet journalling method has been getting a LOT of attention in the past couple of years! #bujo
The best introduction to the bullet journal method is this great video.
We collated some of our other favourite guides on the blog.
Bullet journal notebook suggestions:
2. Ivy Lee Method (six most important things)
It’s all about placing priorities first with the Ivy Lee method. Sounds simple, right? Here’s the breakdown:
- Write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow.
- Prioritise those items in order of importance.
- Work on your first item until it’s finished. Then, move onto the next.
- When the day is done, transfer unfinished items to a new list of tasks for the following day.
James Clear believes this method is effective because it’s simple, it forces you to make tough decisions, it removes the friction of starting and it requires you to single-task.
We believe this is a great method because writing out those priorities the night before (or before you leave from work) allows you to get right into your first task the next morning and dissuades procrastination.
The act of simplifying and focussing on one task at a time is also beneficial because you’ll find yourself switching off from external distractions: emails and social media notifications, ringing phones, colleagues wanting your attention, etc. And when those distractions do (ultimately) occur, being solely focussed on one task will allow you to get back on track and keep yourself on track.
3. Eisenhower Box (decide which it is)
Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States, was known to be highly productive, using a strategy now known as the Eisenhower Box: a simple decision-making tool that separates your tasks and actions based on four possibilities:
- Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
- Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
- Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
- Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).
James Clear explains how this matrix can be used for broad productivity plans (i.e. how should I spend my time each week?) and for smaller, daily plans (i.e. what should I do today?).
Placing tasks within this quadrant allows you scope to identify which ones are most urgent and need action, as opposed to not so important ones that we can eliminate all together or place on our radar but not feel a sudden panic or urge to get onto. It can also help us recognise ‘busywork’ for what it is!
4. Note Card To-Do List Method
This is one method you can make a little more fun! We found this method on Small Stuff Counts. Simply grab a pen and a stack of note cards or sticky notes and write each to-do task on a different card.
Don’t worry about which ones should come first at this stage, just get them down! Next, place them all out and work out which order they should go in – you can do this in a number of ways: by priority or project, or dividing them into smaller stacks and assign them to days of the week.
We’re sure there’ll be lots of satisfaction that’ll come once you finish each task and get to toss that piece of paper in the bin!
5. The Action Method
The Behance Action range was specifically developed for creatives who were looking for a fusion of efficiency and design.
The ‘Action Method’ begins with a simple premise: everything is a project. Every project can then be broken into three components: Action Steps, References and Backburner items.
How to use the Action Method:
- Capture Action steps: during a brainstorm/meeting or on the run, ideas can come and go unless they are captured as action steps.
- Hold onto References: hold onto handouts, sketches, notes, meeting minutes, on-going discussions that you may want to refer back to.
- Tend to your Backburner: keep a “Backburner” to catch ideas that may someday become actions. Whether it is an idea for the future or some small errand you want to remember, put it in the backburner and then forget about it.
The Behance range is designed to help maintain this focus and help you live and work with a bias toward action, making it the perfect marriage between creativity and productivity.
6. The Pareto Principle
This is an interesting principle that’s said to stretch as far back as the 1790s, which follows an 80/20 rule; specifying an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs. The principle states that around 80% of results come from only 20% of the effort.
Based on this Principle, Harvard Business Review recommends the following simple action list:
- Before you leave the office today, write down your top six priorities for tomorrow on a Post-it note.
- Cross off the bottom five.
- Write down your top priority on a Post-it note and put it on your computer.
- Schedule a 90-minute window to work on your top priority — preferably the first thing of the day.
- Every time you are about to check email, Facebook, Twitter etc., write down what you are about to do.
This will ensure you get back to the task at hand and drive yourself to work within the dedicated time frame. You’ll be sure to be ticking off those tasks in no time!