Like most things in life, productivity generally only improves when you develop new tools and skills for improving it. Not all tools and techniques will work the same for everyone. The tools that might work best to help a remote team, for instance, may be different from those that best help an office-based team. In addition, some tools may help increase your personal productivity, while others are better for increasing the productivity of a team. Here are 5 great productivity techniques and an overview of how they work.
1. Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique is based on the idea that we can be our most productive by focusing intently on one thing for a brief period of time before taking a break. Here is how it works:
- Make a list of small tasks to be achieved or break a large task into smaller chunks
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and give your full attention to the task at hand
- When the timer rings, take a 5-minute break
- Set your timer for 25 minutes and tackle the next task
- After completing four 25-minute sessions, take a 30-minute break
The Ultimate Guide To The Pomodoro Technique
Breaking stuff down into bite-sized chunks is the mainstay of the majority of productivity systems. In this post we take a look at the Pomodoro Technique, how it works, why it works and what tools are available to help you manage your tasks.
2. Flow Time
The Flow Time technique is similar to the Pomodoro technique in that it encourages focus on a specific project or task for a short period of time. Unlike the Pomodoro technique, however, it encourages you to keep going if you find yourself in a “flow.” Here is how it works:
Set a timer for some period between 10 and 90 minutes. If you are feeling somewhat focused already, you might set it for 45-60 minutes. If you are already feeling distracted, you might set it for 10-30 minutes.
- When the timer rings, assess whether you are focused on the task and whether you feel able to continue focusing
- If you are not focused or not able to continue focusing, give yourself a break of 10-30 minutes. When the timer goes off, set another timer and try again to focus on the task at hand
- If you are able to continue focusing, set the timer for an additional period of time that you feel you can remain focused up to a 90-minute block
- After 90 minutes, take a break, then repeat
3. Kanban Technique
The Kanban technique was developed a long time ago in the auto industry and improved all processes considerably. The technique is based on the idea that human beings are highly visual and by actually seeing workflow in a simple yet powerful visual, we can keep work flowing smoothly. The Kanban technique is based on four principles:
- Visualize work: By seeing projects and tasks grouped together, you can also see any obstacles and problems.
- Limit Work in Process: Visualization helps delineate what stage of completion tasks are in. This allows you to focus on tasks closest to completion to get them off your plate, keeping fewer tasks undone.
- Focus on Flow: Watching tasks go from phase to phase can help you identify where bottlenecks and holdups are happening to help increase the flow
- Continuous Improvement: By identifying areas of weaknesses, you can constantly be improving the process of getting tasks smoothly through from start to completion
How To: Use A Personal Kanban Board
Kanban isn’t a new method for managing your to-do lists, but it’s certainly kept itself quite in terms of personal productivity. In this post I look at how to use Kanban Boards to manage your to-do lists and keep track of your important tasks.
4. Getting Things Done
The Getting Things Done (GTD) technique is a 5-step process that helps gather, collect and organize your thoughts, tasks, and projects so you can tackle them effectively. Here are the 5 steps to the technique:
- Capture: Use a voice recorder, notepad or notes app to capture and record everything that has your attention. The sooner you write or record it, the sooner you free up your brain from having to remember, which allows it to focus on problem-solving or task engagement rather than remembering.
- Clarify: As soon as you capture something, determine whether it is actionable and if so, immediately determine the next step. If not, trash it if it will never be actionable or file it away if it will eventually become actionable.
- Organize: If something is actionable, put it with other similar actionable items
- Reflect: Regularly look over your lists and move things accordingly. If you are not making progress on an item, it may need to be filed away or given more attention.
- Engage: Do what’s on your lists
GTD – Back to basics 6 – The round-up
In this post we round-up all of the previous articles in this series. Read on to see how you can use Getting Things Done to manage your tasks and time effectively
5. Stoplight Technique
The stoplight method is essentially a simpler version of the Kanban technique. With the stoplight technique, you create three lists: red, yellow and green. You start by focusing on the red list. When the red list is completed you move on to the yellow list. If you complete the yellow list, you can move on to the green. Each day, any uncompleted tasks move up the list, so yellow tasks would be red the next day and green tasks would be yellow.
- Red: Urgent tasks that require immediate attention
- Yellow: Tasks that need to be completed within two days
- Green: Less urgent tasks or tasks that need to be completed regularly but not on a specific deadline
Different techniques are going to work better for certain teams or individuals while others may work better for certain tasks. The best thing to do is try one or two out to see which one works best for you, your team or your business. If it doesn’t work out as planned, you can try another. In addition, you can always tweak and tailor certain techniques until it works just right for you.
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