As a professional organizer, I am always on the lookout for tools, strategies, and systems that help me and my clients do more of what we want to do.
Here are 5 tools I used in 2018 that will increase my productivity in 2019.
5. Asana - project and task management app.
Though they tout it as a “work management platform” for teams, I use the Basic (free) version for my projects as an individual. I’ve used Trello, which I still use for packing lists and a drop off for my someday-maybe tasks.
Two things I love about Asana:
The ability to build one project with bulleted tasks and another project as a board with columns of cards is key. Some projects are tasks that need checking off so the bulleted list works best. Other projects are more of a process where items move across the board until they land in the DONE column.
4. Time Off
Being my own boss means I’m wearing all the hats to run my business (sales, service, and strategy) which means a 40-hour week + 2 weeks of vacation each year isn’t a normal option. However, time away from work is one of the best ways to increase productivity. Whether you’re the boss, an employee, or retired, set boundaries on your work. Even more important, set boundaries around your technology and devices.
Where will you take Time Off?
Take breaks throughout the day. Get away for 10 or 15 minutes at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Don’t just turn from your work computer to your cell phone either. Get up. Get moving.
Take at least 30 minutes (or more) and eat lunch away from your desk. No screen time here, either.
Take a weekend off from technology each month. This means no email, no social media, no phone apps, no news, no computer, and no searching the web for answers to questions. It means reading print books, playing board games, going camping, twiddling your thumbs, watching paint dry and relaxing your brain enough to come back with brilliant ideas and the energy to follow through.
Set a quitting time and stick to it. Whether you work for yourself or a company, and particularly if you work from home, determine a reasonable quitting time and make the effort to quit on time. If you routinely work longer hours and don't think you can do it, start with quitting on-time one or two days each week.
Working longer hours with fewer breaks is NOT working productively. You, your brain, and your body need time to rest and recover. So take Time Off in 2019.
My 2019 goals include increasing my income but it also includes increasing my Time Off time and decreasing my I’m-busy-but-not-productive time. So I’ll be tracking all three in 2019. Darn it, I’m going to have to take another day off to reach my goal! 😉
3. Essential Oils & Diffuser
To support using my time more productively (for writing these newsletters, working with clients, and relaxing on my time off) I’ve turned to essential oils and a diffuser. When I’m writing, I use peppermint or rosemary to increase focus. I use citrus oils on the weekend to give us a little pep as we get started in the morning.
What you focus on increases (or decreases if you’re trying to stop doing it). Which is why tracking a behavior, task, or action helps. If you track your food, you’ll be more aware of what you’re eating. If you track your exercise, you’ll be more aware of how much (or little) you’re actually getting.
Tracking works. And yes, tracking takes time, but if you want to see more of what you want and less of what you don’t want — track it!
A few things I’m tracking this year:
Food & exercise
Work time (broken down by project or category so I know how much it REALLY takes to get it done)
OFF time (breaks, lunches, weekends, and vacations) — my goal? more time off 😊
Book sales & marketing efforts
The books I read
I know tracking works for me. I’ve tracked television time to cut down on the time I spent in front of the TV. I’ve tracked food and exercise to successfully lose weight (not tracking or being aware of what I eat has added most of those #s back). Tracking works for me. Sometimes I enjoy it, sometimes I don’t, but it always works if I do it.
Is there something you want to track in 2019?
1. Paper & Pen
Research shows that writing longhand notes increases retention and deepens learning. I found long ago that if I wrote my notes, whether it was for a class or directions to a client’s house, I was more likely to need only a quick review to refresh my memory.
I’m tracking my time to increase my productivity and time off while decreasing my time-wasting activities. Though I use spreadsheets to track some things, I’ll be using paper and pen to track my time. I want to connect and evaluate what I’m doing rather than just type it in and move on.
I’ve tried apps, spreadsheets, and paper. Paper works the best for me. I created several forms which I’ve used successfully, but this year I’m going with a yellow legal pad on a clipboard and a pen as the primary tools of time tracking.
Remember: increasing productivity isn’t about doing more. It’s about doing more of the right things that get you closer to your dreams, goals, and desires. It’s about making more time available to do the things you want to do.
What tools will you use to increase your productivity?
A few tools that didn’t make my Top 5 are my Google calendar, my timers (iPhone timer and TimeTimer) and collaboration.
I’m collaborating with my fellow authors and organizers to promote organizing books during Get Organized Month (+ other genres for entertainment and relaxation). Check out the great deals to Get Organized & Be Productive