Getting more done in less time is a skill from which anyone would benefit. Looking online for productivity hacks, though, you’ll find lots of advice on screen blockers and apps that help you multi-task or focus.
While those could be useful, there are lots of technology-free ways to boost your productivity, too.
Here are three podcast episodes that detail expert-recommended systems you can implement today that will help you get more done.
In this episode NPR reporter and producer Andee Tagle interviews Oliver Burkeman, the author of “Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals” about how changing your relationship with time might be all you need to manage it.
Burkeman makes the argument that you don’t need to be more efficient at completing tasks, you just need to accept that some tasks will not get done. There are only so many hours a day you can be productive, and instead of being unrealistic with your to-do list, shorten it to things you know you can complete and prepare yourself for the fact that you won’t be able to do everything you think you can.
Cal Newport is an author and associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University. He suggests four interdependent tools that will help you be more productive:
- Have a calendar you update diligently. While this might seem obvious, many people are inconsistent with how often they check and manage their calendar.
- Make a obligation and status list. Unlike a to-do list, this is a record of things you already committed to doing along with a notation that indicates how complete or important they are. Perhaps you are waiting for notes back on a project you know is due in a week. You can write something like “Project due in one week, notes are on their way.”
- Multiscale plan. Make a quarterly plan, weekly plan, and day plan. Newport suggests making the day plan analog in case your tasks don’t involve screens.
- Create a core systems document. Write down that you are using the first three tools. The act of putting on paper that you have these systems in place makes them feel less “fluid” he says.
In the episode, Newport expands on how best to utilize these tools and why, together, they can improve your productivity.
Some tasks are heavier lifts than others. And oftentimes when we feel like we aren’t productive, it’s because we are trying to accomplish too many time-consuming or brain-consuming to-do’s in one day.
Using the 1-3-5 rule helps you take on a realistic amount of work. The idea is that in one day you can accomplish one big, important task, three less crucial tasks, and five small tasks.
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