I’ve blogged a great deal here about productivity tips and tricks. I regularly experiment with new methods, and I often find that they work really brilliantly for a couple of months and then peter out. Others, however, become part of my working routine and stay that way for years at a time. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a few methods that have worked for me long term, and a few that haven’t.
Short-Lived Productivity Tricks
Daily scheduling using Google Calendar
I got really excited about this at the time. You can read the full explanation of how it worked by clicking the link above, but basically I used Google Calendar to split my working day into blocks and to schedule in what I would do for each one of those blocks. It worked well for a while, and it’s certainly a technique that would be great if you like to work to a strict routine. I, however, am a bit of a maverick and once the novelty wore off I found it tricky to stick to my own self-imposed rules.
The ‘to-done’ list
This was a list I used to write when I finished work on a Friday to highlight all my successes (big and small!) from the week. I still love this idea, but sadly it just isn’t a habit that has stuck. Perhaps this one will come round again…
Last year I had a bit of a switch-around of my work day and started sitting down for an hour in the morning to work on my more long term writing projects. I loved doing this, but sadly I no longer have total freedom over my working day (hello six month old baby!) and I now have to take time as I can get it. I still very much have a daily routine, but out of necessity it has become a lot more flexible.
Habit List was an app I used for a long time to keep track of things I wanted to work on daily (I mainly used it to track Yoga practice and work on my novel). Again, I really liked this app… but it became a victim of it’s own success. The idea of visually tracking small daily habits really worked for me, and I’ve now transitioned to a more analogue way of tracking!
Long Term Productivity Tricks
Nozbe is still absolutely my to do list app of choice. I’ve tried a lot of them, but Nozbe is the only one that has worked consistently for me and the way I work. I won’t type out again why I love it so much (you can find that out by clicking the link above) but trust me when I say that I do.
It’s been almost two years since I discovered that timing myself while I work makes me considerably more productive. Since then, I’ve been using Toggl to do the timing. This is especially key now that my uninterrupted working time is more limited (and thus more precious). I also use Toggl to keep an eye on how much I’m spending on billable work VS non-billable work.
Pre-2012 I kept every single email I ever received in my inbox. Crazy, no?! After I switched domains and email accounts towards the end of that year, I started fresh with the aim of maintaining inbox zero. Let me tell you: I’ve never looked back. My inbox is pleasingly empty and my emails are organised into easy-to-navigate folders. It makes my life a lot easier.
Fairly late into my time as a freelancer I sussed out that having a non-traditional working pattern was actually A Good Thing. Once I’d made that realisation, I started working more flexibly and actually leaving the house between the hours of 9am and 5pm. It turned out that I was much more productive when I worked to my own rhythms. This is something I still do, but more often than not the rhythms I’m actually working to are that of my aforementioned baby daughter.
Things have had to get a lot more efficient round here since the little one arrived, and I have lots of new thoughts to share on productivity. I’ll be sharing them over the coming month or so, so keep an eye out. If you don’t already, you might like to connect on Twitter or Facebook so you don’t miss anything.
*Productivity image via Forbes