Productivity 101: Six Popular Methods for Getting More Done

People sitting at a conference table preparing a meetingGaudiLab / Shutterstock

Technological advances should, in theory, make your job easier, but sometimes it's impossible to do everything. These productivity techniques can help.

If you have trouble being productive, you are not alone. A quick Google search on "how to be productive" gives 190 million search results. You and almost everyone are looking for ways to do more.

Fortunately, we do not have to reinvent the wheel. There are many proven systems for increasing productivity. While all of these systems may be useful, finding the right one for your lifestyle can be a bit difficult. This quick guide to six popular productivity techniques should help you find ways to increase your workflow.


L & # 39; s history: This time management technique was created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. The term Pomodoro is Italian for tomato (Cirillo named it after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that he used.)

What is it: The underlying principle of this technique is that you train your brain to focus intensely for short periods of time, the idea being that you can accomplish faster, focus on peaks of intensity over longer periods of time and distracted. The Pomodoro technique is composed of six different stages:

Choose a task
Set your timer for 25 minutes
Work until the end of the allotted time
Mark your progress on a piece of paper
Take a short break (about 5 minutes)
After each 25 minutes, take a longer break (20 to 30 minutes).

Effort: Easy. You only need a timer and will stay focused for less than half an hour at a time.

Resources: You can read the book The technique of Pomodoro, by Francesco Cirillo, or go to the website for more detailed information.

disadvantages: Some people do not like this targeting method to be so rigid and that it focuses strictly on one-off work, without organization or management of your tasks.

Blocking time

L & # 39; s history: This story is a bit murky, but one of the oldest time-blocking records is that of Benjamin Franklin. autobiography. Many personalities such as Elon Musk and Jeff Weiner (CEO of LinkedIn) say that blocking time helps them do more and have more time for their family and personal events.

What is it: Blocking time is a way to organize your tasks in blocks of time. Some people block their whole day; others focus on the hours of work. Once you have blocked all your work hours (say 9h-5h), you then segment them into smaller blocks. One tip for this method is to schedule appointments or meetings on certain days, and only these days, to maintain productivity.

You can even block your time, and people like that because it might be hard to get into this race or pottery class otherwise!

Effort: Moderate. You have to think about your day, organize events in advance and learn to say no.

Resources: This detailed post from Cal Newport, professor of computer science, perfectly describes the operation of the blocking of time.

disadvantages: This requires commitment and you need to take the time to plan. It's hard, which some people find frustrating or overwhelming.

The Ivy Lee Method

L & # 39; s history: In 1918, Charles M. Schwab was director of Bethlehem Steel Corporation. He wanted to improve his productivity. according to storiesSchwab met Ivy Lee and asked him for advice to do more things. Lee told Schwab to try his method for three months, after which he could pay him the price he thought the advice was worth. Three months later, Schwab sent Lee a check for $ 25,000.

What is it: The Ivy Lee method is simply to prioritize your to-do list by focusing on the most important tasks to be done each day. The practice is as follows:

At the end of each day, write the six most important things to do the next day.
Sort the items in the order from most important to least important.
The next day, focus only on the first task on your list until the end of the task. Then move on to the next one. Do this with each next item on your list.
All items left at the end of the day are moved to the next day's list.

The trick here is to not add more than six items to your list and stay focused on each item until you're done.

Effort: Easy. You only need a few minutes each night to prepare your list for the next day. The hard part is to stick to your list and not be distracted.

Resources: You have to think to become rich, by Napoleon Hill, presents the history of this method.

disadvantages: Apart from the time investment in the management of the list, this method does not have many disadvantages. Keeping to a list of six can be difficult, but setting limits can reduce anxiety and improve concentration.

Eat live frogs

L & # 39; s history: Guru of success Brian Tracy is most often credited with popularizing this method of productivity. The idea comes from a pretended Mark Twain quote (There are different variations of the quote that circulates) "If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it in the morning. Plus, if you have to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest first.

What is it: The principle is that you get down to the most difficult task in the morning so that you can overcome it. Keep working on the task until it is finished before moving on to another commitment.

Effort: Moderate. It takes a bit of willpower to tackle the most intimidating project. However, once you have started, it should be easier to connect.

Resources: You can learn more about Brian Tracy's method on his website.

disadvantages: The biggest disadvantage is the method itself. If you do not feel comfortable in the depths, you may have trouble committing yourself.

Personal kanban

L & # 39; s history: The system dates from the 1940s and was entrusted to Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. The method was created to simplify processes and increase plant productivity. The idea was to find the bottlenecks in production and solve these problems. You can use the same method to determine where you need to be more productive with your time.

What is it: This simple productivity plan relies on visual cues to keep your brain motivated to keep moving forward. If you tend to start several things at the same time, this trick can be the boost you need to finish something. You can use a piece of paper, a white board or sticky notes. Divide your "table" of choices into three categories: To Do, To Do and Done. Move each project to its respective categories as needed. People who swear by this say that it works because once this column of things to do or to do begins to fill, it can be a kick in the back.

Effort: Easy to moderate. It's a simple method that requires very little supply, but you'll have to focus on your tasks.

Resources: You can learn more about this method on the personal kanban website. There is also a book that you can buy if you prefer.

disadvantages: This can be tedious for some people.

Must, should, wants

What is it: This method is simply a tool to help you prioritize your tasks so that you can focus on tasks that require immediate attention, without getting distracted by lesser elements. The first step is to make a list of everything you need to do. Then categorize each item as a must, a must, or a desire. These are your non-negotiable ones. They must arrive. The category should be for the important items, but you can put them back if necessary. The need category is about the things you want to do, but they can be deferred indefinitely.

Effort: Low. Once you have your list of priorities, you can focus on the most important tasks until they are completed without worrying about items that do not need to be done. Be careful right away.

Resources: There is a variant of this tactic called MOSCOW. It's a little deeper and offers reminders for things you should say no every time.

disadvantages: Not much, although you may feel guilty at the beginning of classifying things in a less important category.

Once you have found a way to be more productive when you have tasks to do, you may find that your downtime is more like free time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.