How many productivity processes do you use consistently? I’m sure you’ve found systems and apps which worked for you—until they didn’t.
At a recent writers’ group meeting, we discussed productivity, and shared our thoughts. One writer said that he’d spent two days setting up a system, but couldn’t get the syncing to work. He’s returning to Outlook and bullet journaling: “Outlook for work, and my bullet journal for everything else.”
That’s the big challenge with trying to be more productive: every system takes time to learn, and time to put into place. Then you need to sort out the bugs.
Even if you manage to get a new system working smoothly, inevitably something happens, and your planning falls apart.
Things happen: planning and productivity challenges
You’re hoping for a productive day, then:
- Urgent new tasks appear on your schedule. Your boss or a client needs something today.
- There’s unavoidable delays—perhaps you’re waiting for a deliverable which doesn’t arrive.
- Someone’s ill. You take on their meetings and tasks.
One member says she’s given up on complex systems. She’s doing her planning on sticky notes. The size of a note means it’s impossible to over-complicate things. A bunch of other members gleefully said that they use sticky notes too.
Here are some “sticky” systems you can try.
1. The 1-3-5 To Do list keeps it simple
There’s a limit to how much you can do in a day. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, trying to cram too much into too few hours.
Several group members swear by the 1-3-5 strategy.
In summary, you grab a sticky note, and add:
- One important thing;
- Three less important things; and
- Five minor tasks. (I add the minor tasks to the back of the note.)
This article A Better To-Do List: The 1-3-5 Rule offers a template:
… accept that you can reasonably get one big thing, three medium things, and five small things done. So keep your daily to-do list to just those nine items.
2.The Rule of 3 — a clever way strategize
Want to plan everything on a sticky note? You can.
The Rule of 3 is a productivity principle that encourages us to focus on achieving just three meaningful outcomes every day, week, month, and year.
Here’s how I use it:
- Three things I want to do today (one big, two small) on a note;
- On another note: three things to complete this week.
It’s fun to cross off tasks as you do them.
3. Slightly more complex: a sticky note kanban
In the Kanban system, tasks are grouped in one of three categories – to do, in-process, or done – based on their completion status.
Although I haven’t tried this yet, several members use this system to write novels, plan blog posts, and family events.
BTW, Trello works as a digital kanban.
If you’re feeling stressed, try one of these simple productivity systems
It’s easy to be seduced by complex productivity methods. We’re full of hope when we try a system, so we invest our time, energy, and money.
If you’re feeling stressed, try one of the simple systems above, right now.