However, I used to struggle with productivity, and considering you’ve found this post, I bet you’d like to know what the secret to my productivity success is, right? Well, I’ve got some news for you.
There is no secret - it’s all about the tools I use.
In this post, I’m going to share with you some of the tools and habits I believe are essential to my personal productivity.
In truth, I could have every productivity tool under the sun and follow all of the best practices, but it would all be for nothing if I didn’t set myself goals. Planning ahead is my starting point whenever I want to achieve something.
A goal can be anything; the redecoration of the spare room, fixing that leaky tap in the kitchen or finally taking those Spanish lessons. Whatever your goals (and you’ll doubtless have several), make sure you clearly define them and set realistic, achievable timescales for reaching them.
Without my to-do list, I’d constantly let down both myself and others. I’d miss deadlines and forget to do certain things entirely.
An effective to-do list can take the form of pen and paper or one of the numerous free apps that available for smartphones. Whichever platform you choose, start creating a to-do list which you refer to every day of the week. Add new tasks, give them sensible due dates and tick stuff off once completed.
To-do lists are simple, effective and one of the most important tools for raising personal productivity.
If you’re anything like me, your mind will be a tangled mess of ideas, goals and half-formed personal projects. In order to get all of that stuff out, you can turn to the process of mind mapping.
A mind map is simply a visual representation of an idea or project. You start by circling your idea and then drawing branches from which you can note down thoughts and plans on how it might be achieved. Again, this can be done with a pen and paper or via one of the excellent mind mapping apps that are available.
If you curse every time you open your email inbox and constantly find yourself missing important messages, order confirmations or parcel delivery notifications, it’s time for you to work the Inbox Zero methodology into your personal life.
Put simply, Inbox Zero is a method by which you deal with every incoming email appropriately by removing junk and strategically filing away the messages you need to deal with (for example, you could create ‘to-do’, ‘needs action’ and ‘info only’ folders). As a result, you consistently have a clean, empty inbox. It’s a fantastic feeling and helps you concentrate on what matters in life.
Mobile phones can be a source of distraction for us all, especially with the seemingly never-ending stream of notifications from social media accounts, messaging apps and invitations to play one of the 156 games you’ve downloaded.
My smartphone was the bane of my life until I found ways to keep all of this noise under control. Now, it is primarily a productivity tool.
I did this by turning off notifications for all but the most important apps (i.e. text messages and to-do reminders). This has enabled me to focus on using my smartphone to enhance my personal productivity rather than have it destroy my ability to get things done.
My phone is my calendar, my to-do list (I use the brilliant Omnifocus), notebook (great for jotting down blog post ideas when they arise) and a brilliantly simple mind mapping tool. I’ll cover the latter in a separate post.
I’ve whittled down the above productivity tools and techniques from a host of others I’ve tried over the years and I hope they inspire you to raise your own personal productivity gam