In hopes of stemming the tides, I’ve dived into a few techniques I’ve never come across before. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of theories on how best to get as much work done as possible. There is bound to be one for every personality type, it’s just a matter of wading through them all until you find one that works. So in that vein, here are a few productivity techniques I have been trying out over the past month.
“Pomodoro” by Francesco Cirillo sounds like . . . OK it sounds like a recipe! But it’s actually a very simple technique that only requires two things - a timer and some discipline. You set the timer to 25 minutes. This may seem odd, as the common thing to do would be to set it to 30 minutes, but that 5 minute margin is the key. During the 25 minutes, you work non-stop in a focussed manner.
When the timer runs out you have a 5 minute break to do what you want before start the 25 minutes again. After repeating the process 4 times, you should then have a longer break, but no longer than half an hour. That is two and a half hours taken care of. That means you can keep this up all the way through your working day. Hopefully, you’ll see an uptick in productivity. If you want to find out more about this technique, click here.
This productivity technique comes from Japan, where it was devised by Taiichi Ohno, an engineer at Toyota. On the surface, it appears to be nothing but a simple to-do list. But if you apply the correct amount of discipline to it, it can work wonders. Kanban is based on the idea that there are three phases of productivity - to do, doing, and done. First, you must populate the to-do list. Fill it full of everything you need to do, from work to getting milk.
Then, work out your time frame for a day. Now, this doesn’t mean “I’m at work for 8 hours”, this means figure out when you’ll be waking up, and when you’ll be going to bed. Even if you have a set event for the evening, that shouldn’t be excluded - add it to the to-do list. Then, with this in mind, move tasks into the doing section. Be smart, and only pick an assortment of tasks you can 100% get finished within a day. If you finish quickly, don’t add more. Simply enjoy the freedom your hard work has earned you!
There are several tools that can work in conjunction with Kanban, but I like Trello the most. Trello is an online organisation tool, that I use everyday, combined with Kanban. I recommend it, but any online to-do list generate will suffice.
“Don’t break the chain”
This one is for schedule lovers. If your want your life to run with maximum efficiency, the “Don’t break the chain” method is ideal. On day one, you set out tasks you want to do. Be it work, exercise, chores, even socialising. Then you allot time to each task. 4 hours of work, an hour of exercise, etc. Do all of these tasks on day one, and mark it off on a calendar. Then the next day, repeat everything, with the exact same times.
As you accomplish your tasks each day, a chain will accumulate on your calendar. You’ll be looking at an unbroken chains of days, weeks, or even months. That’s when this technique really kicks in. Humans are creatures of habit, and on the whole want to keep “traditions” going. This streak of unbroken days becomes motivation in of itself. You’ll be determined to beat previous streaks, and if you challenge a friend to compete, you’ll be even more determined to never break the chain!
Try these techniques on for size, and let me know how you get on!