There is nothing like the feeling of a hard day’s work, where everything has been taken care of and you have nothing else to accomplish. But for many, that’s the ideal day, and not the norm. If you ever feel that your productivity is lagging behind, you’re going to need some new techniques and tools to get the job done. Whether you are attempting to get on track financially, or simply need to be more productive at work in general, here are three powerful tools for improving your effectiveness.
One: The Universal Inbox
Previously, before I implemented these methods, my desk was cluttered beyond measure. Every article of paper that represented something to do was thrown in a random spot on my workspace. Not only was it difficult to find what I was looking for, but it was just plain overwhelming.
To further complicate things, I would attempt to have several inboxes representing the different areas of my life. I had a financial inbox, mail inbox, “to file” inbox, etc. These numerous piles added to the complexity and certainly didn’t help organize my life.
Then I was hit with the concept of the “universal inbox.” It was nothing that I invented, it has been used by productivity giants such as David Allen. The idea is that you put everything that you must process into one giant inbox. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a bill you need to pay, an envelope of receipts you need to reconcile, or a note you wrote to yourself reminding you of an important meeting. Because of the “universal” nature of this inbox, it is important to process its contents as quickly as possible – never let the box go unprocessed for more than 48 hours. You’ll find that having a nice, tidy universal inbox clears your mind and helps you relax.
Two: The Notepad
In today’s digital age, it can be difficult to imagine carrying around an unsophisticated notebook. Put sometimes a notepad in your back pocket is just the ticket to jot down an idea or a memo that you need to store for later.
I don’t know how many times that I didn’t enter a thought or reminder into my phone because it just wasn’t quick enough. When you’re talking with someone, and a thought comes to mind, paper and pencil are sometimes the best way to capture the idea. Later, you can throw the scrap of paper into your universal inbox and appropriately process the thought.
Three: The Commitment Not To Multitask!
Too many people think that multitasking is a talent to be praised. While there are certain situations where that can be true, most tasks require clear focus and determination to get them done in an efficient manner.
It can be easy to be distracted when your phone is ringing, email is pinging, and you have something on your mind you didn’t create a reminder for yet. Instead, eliminate the sources of distraction and get to work! You’ll be amazed how easy it is to stay focused and get work done when you don’t have the constant distraction of life reaching for your attention.
These three tools will allow you deeper focus on the task at hand. You’ll become more productive and find new ways of getting things done.
What are some ways you keep yourself productive at home and in the workplace?
Two monitors at work – so I can multitask better.
And no work at home (okay, life work is okay. But I try to leave career work at the office).
I’m with Jenna, I’ve got two monitors at home I use for blogging and I don’t know what I’d do without them. I also agree with you on the pen and paper. That’s all I carry into meetings at work (aside from needed materials), much quicker then trying to type stuff into blackberry…
I think that also ensuring that you have an appropriate work space is key. I had to move my work space at home from my personal computer area just to avoid playing video games. Since doing so, I get distracted a LOT less, and take a lot fewer “video game breaks”…
I like the third point, however, I think it should be to know when to multitask and when not to.
I mutlitask thorugh my more mundane chores, or even tasks at work. This allows me to foucs and concentrate (and not multitask) on the things that need my undivided attention.
Knowing when to and when not to multitask I feel is the key to successful time management.
John @ TheChristianDollar.com says
My conviction is that all multitasking is simply “rapid refocusing.” The brain is not designed to think two thoughts or implement two very different actions at one time. This rapid refocusing can create short bursts of time that are wasted. Overall, I think it is wise to focus solely on the task at hand. Great comments though! I can see where a second monitor would come in handy! Also, I admit that I do multitask when writing (music and the keyboard go well together).
The Yakezie says
I can’t help but multi-task a couple things at a time.
I guess this isn’t about productivity, but I try and sleep no more than 6 hours. 1 hour more a day than the competition is good enough as that is 7 hours more a week!
marlon @ productivity bits says
And do not forget about the 80/20 Rule (Pareto Principle). An in-depth analysis of your daily tasks can reveal a lot. Eliminating the things that have zero values in your life-work can definitely increase your general productivity.
About the notepad, I’d say bring a pocket notebook (ok, old school notebook, not the computer notebook). Get one of those Moleskine pocket notebooks.