Productivity is not one size fits all.
From the Pomodoro Technique to the GTD Method, there are so many different productivity strategies and techniques out there. How do you know which productivity method is right for you?
And just because a productivity method works for one person, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you. We all have different habits, working styles, and needs. Some people love visual tracking systems like the Kanban method. While others prefer a simple to-do list. One person might be more productive when they’re working against the clock. While others need more flexibility with time.
Below, we break down the most tried–and-true productivity methods to help you choose the right one. Whether you’re looking to improve your efficiency, get organized, or beat procrastination, you’ll be sure to find a method that suits you.
Here’s how to determine the right productivity method for you
First, some questions to consider when selecting a productivity method.
What do you currently need help with?
Time management: Are you looking to manage your time better? Do you need help combating procrastination?
Prioritization: Are you feeling overwhelmed by too many tasks and don’t know where to start?
Workflow: Are you juggling multiple projects and need a system to track all the different components?
Now you might be thinking: I need help with all three! Don’t worry, you are definitely not alone. While some productivity methods emphasize time management or organization, others address a comprehensive set of issues. So, thankfully, you can find a productivity method that will support you in a holistic way.
What’s your working style?
Visual: Do you consider yourself a visual learner? Do you like to keep track of details with highlighters and different colors?
Minimalist: Or do you like things to be simple and straightforward? For example, you prefer writing things down on a notepad and checking off tasks as you go.
Rabbit: You work hard but need help managing your time and energy more efficiently.
Tortoise: Or maybe you tend to drag your heels getting started but once you start you have no trouble staying on task.
Now that you have a better idea of how you work, let’s take a closer look at the different productivity methods and techniques.
Different productivity methods to try
What is it?: The GTD Method (or Getting Things Done) was popularized by David Allen. Allen says that our brains make bad assistants. We can’t expect to remember and keep track of everything. Instead, we should rely on external systems to help us get organized and be productive.
How does it benefit you?: If you suffer from procrastination or disorganization, GTD is good for helping you create simple and actionable steps that you can take.
How to do it: Write down all your tasks and responsibilities on a to-do list. Our brains make bad assistants, remember? So help yourself by capturing what you need to do.
Then, assess your list and see what can be done now or later. A key principle of GTD is the 2 minute rule. If it can be done in 2 minutes, do it. If not, schedule a time to do it later.
What is it?: The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system in which you work for 25 minute intervals and take a short break after each session.
How does it benefit you?: The Pomodoro Technique is great for people who have trouble getting started on tasks or need help sustaining their focus.
How to use it: Set your time for 25-30 minutes and work on a single task, like drafting a report or cleaning a room. When the timer goes off, take a 2-3 minute break. Repeat 4 times. After the 4th interval, take a 15 minute break.
What is it?: Instead of scheduling your day by the hour, the Time Block Method involves organizing your day by segments of time.
How does it benefit you?: Time blocking helps you plan your day with more intention. You can focus on what truly matters versus reacting to other people’s priorities. And if you tend to overschedule yourself, you’ll appreciate the flexibility that time blocking allows.
How to use it: Organize your day into morning, afternoon, and evening blocks. Then, dedicate a block for certain tasks. For example, block off the morning to do writing work, the afternoon for meetings, and the evening for exercise and socializing.
What is it?: The Kanban Method is a visual system to help you track the status of your projects.
How does it benefit you?: Helps you track the workflow of a big project and all the different components and deadlines. This is great for project managers, freelancers, creative types, and visual learners.
How to do it: You can use a digital project planning tool like Asana or Trello. Or use a dashboard pad or planning pad to track your work. It’s also helpful to incorporate washi tape or color coding to visually signify where you are on the project.
Use the following labels to track the progress of your project:
- In progress
- Past due
- Not initiated
What is it?: A productivity method in which you group similar tasks and do them in one sitting.
How does it benefit you?: Multi-tasking or switching between different tasks drains your time and energy. Task batching, on the other hand, is all about focusing on a single type of task. It’s a lot easier to focus and get through a task when you’re not resetting every time.
How to do it: Make a list of your tasks and group similar tasks together. For example, admin work or emails or cleaning/organizing. Then, choose one type of task to work on. For example, you would do admin work in one sitting. And then move onto the next task, like responding to emails.
What is it?: Made famous by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Eisenhower Matrix helps you determine what’s truly a priority by assessing tasks by urgency and importance.
How does it benefit you?: If you have lots of competing deadlines and requests, this can really help clarify what you should work on first.
How to do it: Create a box with 4 quadrants and organize tasks into the following categories:
- Urgent and important: tasks you should prioritize
- Important but not urgent: these can be goals or personal projects; you can schedule these for later or work on them incrementally
- Not urgent and not important: tasks you can defer or delegate
- Not urgent and not important: eliminate, delegate, or do only when you have free time