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4 productivity techniques you should try
Apr 16, 2012
There are days when we effortlessly breeze through our ever-changing to-do lists. And then there are days when we feel disoriented, stressed out, burdened, demotivated, and stuck in a rut. For those unproductive days, most think they have no choice but to plod on, keep moving and go through their workload, but this strategy often leads to subpar results — and sometimes, even more discouragement, which certainly won't do anyone any good.
Much has been said about productivity, the various tools and techniques that can be used by people across industries to accomplish tasks, and the changes in mindset and habits that must be implemented. This article delves into the last two topics: productivity techniques and — to a certain extent — the necessary mindset and habit changes. The main thing to remember is that not all productivity techniques deliver results for everyone; what works for many may not work for some. Probably the best advice anyone can give you is to test all the productivity techniques you come across, see if it works for you, and keep experimenting until you find your own system. In the meantime, we have four productivity techniques that you should take a shot at.
Getting Things Done (GTD)
It's quite easy to feel overwhelmed when gearing up to tackle a major project or assignment. As a whole, it all seems impossible to accomplish. But these sentiments can be countered if you look at that project or assignment as composed of small tasks that can be crossed off the list if tackled one by one. This is the logic behind the technique created by 66-year-old American consultant David Allen, aptly named “Getting Things Done” or GTD.
Allen calls GTD a “work-life management system”, and this system espouses the following:
-Writing down each task so that they would be easier to remember and ease your stress level
-Tackling each task according to importance and organizing them into groups
-Frequently reviewing the tasks you've accomplished; a weekly review should be done
-Using the insights you've acquired from the weekly reviews to properly group future tasks, set each task's priority level, and determine the necessary actions for upcoming situations.
Allen's system has acquired many followers, inspired a number of task/productivity apps for mobile platforms, and spawned a bestselling book called Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, published in 2002. The author also has a newsletter, releases podcasts, has several social media accounts promoting GTD, holds seminars for individuals and business leaders, and (with his team) maintains a blog meant to be “the hub of all things GTD”.
The Pomodoro Technique
No, this technique does not involve going to the kitchen and whipping up a classic Italian pasta dish. However, the productivity technique's creator did get his inspiration from a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato, hence the name (pomodoro means tomato in Italian).
A lot of things can happen in 25 minutes. For Francesco Cirillo, doing things in 25-minute time blocks is the ticket to productivity. The Pomodoro Technique operates on the idea that a person works better by doing things with a set time limit and taking frequent breaks. Here's how it works. First, look at your to-do list (containing tasks that are organized according to the effort required) and choose the task you want to accomplish. Next, set your kitchen timer to ring in 25 minutes (if you don't have a kitchen timer, you can use any gadget that has an alarm function, say, a smartphone or TV — but using the old-school kitchen timer and a to-do list written in paper is encouraged), and do that specific task within the designated time. Once the timer rings, cross out that task on your list if you've accomplished it, and go on a short five-minute break.
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