As November and my month of Productivity & Order is drawing to an end I thought I’d share some advice on how to get things done:
Although some people prefer to be spontaneous I think I would be helpless without my lists. When I have everything that needs to get done penned down on a paper in order of importance on my desk I can relax in a way I can’t when the tasks are just soaring through my head without structure. And I love the feeling of crossing another task of my list!
2. Break down big tasks
No matter how much I love to write, essays always freak me out. The last few weeks I’ve written two essays for school and I realised that the only way I could get myself to tackle them was breaking the working progress down into small, manageable pieces. I wrote down each step ahead (Read through the texts, note differences, form into so and so many topic sentences, write a draft, let it rest, read through it etc.) and suddenly I could approach one tasks at a time instead of just running away from the huge impossible essay. Simple but very effective.
3. Work in intervals
Since my dad told me about the pomodoro technique when I struggled with my bachelor’s essay last winter, I’ve started working so much more effectively. The method was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 80s and is ridiculously simple:
– Set a timer and work with a task for 25 minutes (one ‘pomodoro’).
– Take a short break of 5 minutes.
– Take a longer break every four ‘pomodoros’.
There are numerous different iPhone and computer apps devoted to the technique. The one I currently use (which you can find here) is free and very simple. However, I find it to be extremely useful, as it allows me to stay concentrated (and most importantly, awake!) and reminds me to take pauses. I get small tasks done during the pauses, and the big tasks usually take much less time than I expect when I work like this.
4. Get some fresh air
Every day I try to use some of my little pauses to step outdoors, to get the mail, collect firewood, take a short walk or just breathe. A few minutes are enough to revive my brain and give me enough energy to focus some more hours. This morning I woke up to find a layer of snow on the lawn! The change of seasons always makes me happy, and when you’re happy, even the most difficult task seems a little easier to tackle.
What are your best advice for staying productive?