21 Productivity Examples

productivity examples and definition, explained below

Definition: Productivity refers to the efficiency and effectiveness with which individuals or organizations complete tasks and achieve goals, often measured by the output produced relative to the input used. Below are some examples of how to be productive.

Productivity Examples

1. Time Blocking

time blocking example and definition, explained below

Explanation: Time blocking involves allocating specific blocks of time on your calendar for individual tasks or activities. During this time, you do not allow for any distractions (like social media or interruptions). This method helps to focus on one task at a time and reduces distractions, ensuring that important tasks get dedicated attention.

2. To-Do Lists

to-do lists definition and purpose

Explanation: Making daily to-do lists involves writing down tasks that you need to complete within a day. I recommend writing down 3-5 things you need to do the night before so when you wake up, you already know exactly what you need to get done. Keep the list short as you want to narrow down your focus to the most important parts and not overwhelm yourself.

3. Set Specific and Measurable Goals

goal setting example and definition

Explanation: Goals are more likely to be met when they are specific (you have a clearly-stated target) and measurable (you know when you’ve achieved it). So, don’t just state a vague goal. Say exactly what it is and what success looks like. To learn more about setting high-quality goals, see my article on the SMART Goals Framework.

4. Using the Eisenhower Box

Eisenhower matrix

Explanation: The Eisenhower Box is a decision-making tool that categorizes tasks based on their urgency and importance. It helps in prioritizing tasks effectively and deciding what to work on, delegate, schedule, or discard. Using this tool improves productivity by focusing efforts on tasks that are most impactful and align with goals. You can read some great Eisenhower Matrix examples here.

5. Scheduling

scheduling definition and purpose

Explanation: Set aside some time to schedule your tasks on a calendar. Plan your days, weeks, and months well in advance so you know what’s coming and when to do what task, in order to get it all done at once. Take inspiration from the Eisenhower matrix: schedule in the most important things first, then work down the priorities list one by one.

6. The ‘One Thing’ Method

focus definition and purpose

Explanation: The ‘One Thing’ method was popularized in the book The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results. The method is simple: focus on just one thing – nothing else. By choosing “just one thing”, you can maintain strong focus and deep work. One of their core ideas is that you need to find that “one thing” that moves the needle for you, then focus in really intently on that thing.

7. The ‘Tangent Notepad’ for Deep Work

deep work definition

Explanation: This method involves keeping a notepad and pen to your side while you work. If you have a thought that would usually take you down a rabbit hole, don’t focus on it yet. Just write it down on your notepad as a reminder so you can come back to it after your intense focus session. (I’ve been taught this method before, but I don’t remember what it’s called, so we’re sticking with “The Tangent Notepad” for now. If you know the official name, leave a comment at the end of this post).

8. The Pomodoro Technique

pomodoro technique definition and purpose

Definition: The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method where work is broken down into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks (I usually do 25 minutes of focus, then a 5 minute break). This technique encourages frequent breaks to improve mental agility and maintain focus over longer periods of work. To do it, simply set a timer and put anything else aside so you can focus for those 25 minutes.

9. Delegating Tasks

delegation examples and definition, explained below

Definition: This technique isn’t for everyone, but it’s great for people in leadership roles. It’s simple – you gotta delegate! I know, this is easier said than done. Letting go of control is really hard! I’ve tried to hire assistants to delegate tasks for this website with varying levels of suggest. But if you master this skill of task delegation (as a group member, manager, boss, or business owner), you can start reclaiming your time.

See More: Delegation Examples

10. Keeping an Organized Workspace

organizational skills examples and definition, explained below

Definition: An organized workspace minimizes distractions and saves time by ensuring that necessary tools and documents are easily accessible. Remember the motto “a cluttered space is a cluttered mind”. This also extends to your file sorting on your computer – store documents in an orderly manner to prevent clutter. I highly recommend doing the important spatial preparation for your workspace before sitting down to work or study. Remove distractions, keep a study scheduler next to you, and have your notes and notepad ready.

See More: Organizational Skills Examples

11. Using Productivity Apps

productivity examples and definition, explained below

Definition:

Using productivity apps streamlines task management and organization, enabling users to efficiently track and prioritize their work and personal tasks. Apps that block social media, organize your tasks, and provide reminders and analytics can all help in maintaining focus, managing time effectively, and enhancing overall productivity.

12. Reviewing Progress Regularly (for Self-Reflection)

self-reflection examples and definition, explained below

Definition: Setting goals isn’t enough for productivity. You also need to reflect as you go. This helps you to see whether you’re still on track. Reviewing progress at regular intervals helps you to adjust and find avenues for improvement. By contrast, if you don’t pause, review, and reflect, then you may not realize where you’re making mistakes and you’ll continue down the path of mistakes that are crushing your productivity. I recommend reviewing progress on a daily and weekly basis.

13. Practicing Mindfulness

mindfulness definition and purpose

Definition: Mindfulness is the practice of clearing your mind and trying to increase your consciousness and awareness of what’s happening in the present (silencing the endless inner voice!). This can help in improving focus and reducing stress, enabling a more centered and calm approach to work tasks. This increased mental clarity and reduced anxiety lead to enhanced efficiency through pushing out distracting thoughts.

14. The Ta-Da List

ta-da lists definition and purpose

Definition: The Ta-Da list is the opposite of the To-Do list. Don’t write down what you need to get done. Instead, write down what you have achieved throughout the day. Actively writing down what you’ve done, rather than trying to chase a milestone, can help to motivate you more. You may psychologically feel as if you’re making progress!

15. Automating Processes

Automating processes definition and purpose

Definition: Reflect on tasks that you could automate and put in place an automation strategy. This might include, for example, linking your bank account to an accounting app to automate the tracking of your spending. Or, it could include setting your alarm clock to a weekly timer so you don’t have to constantly go back to it and set an alarm time each night.

16. Setting Deadlines

Deadlines definition and purpose

Definition: Deadlines create a sense of urgency and importance, which can motivate and focus efforts on task completion. They also help in prioritizing tasks and managing time more effectively, leading to more organized and timely work. If you have tasks without clear deadlines in place, you can do this right away – list your tasks then write down a self-imposed date or time by which you want each one done.

17. Avoiding Multitasking

multitasking examples and definition, explained below

Definition: Focusing on one task at a time increases efficiency and accuracy, as multitasking often leads to divided attention and decreased quality of work. Single-tasking improves concentration and results in more productive work sessions. I talk about this extensively in my critique of multitasking, which highlights the extensive research showing that multitasking is a myth.

18. A Clear Morning Routine

routine definition and purpose

Definition: Establishing a clear morning routine is important to me because I can wake up and know what I’m doing each day without having to make any decisions. This cuts down the cognitive load and gives me simplicity and certainty each day. This routine helps in mentally preparing for the day’s tasks, leading to improved focus and productivity.

19. The Two Minute Rule

two minute rule definition and purpose

Definition: The two-minute rule, which involves immediately handling tasks that take less than two minutes, prevents small tasks from accumulating and becoming overwhelming. This approach keeps the workflow smooth and uncluttered, enhancing overall productivity. I do this with emails (you can always respond within two minutes!), but you could also focus on the following strategy which is an alternative approach to email.

20. Check your Email Once Per Day

Definition: Email can be a time suck. Instead of letting your emails distract you from your work, set aside 20 minutes to an hour to check your emails, then don’t look at them again for the rest of the day. They’re a distraction and prevent you from getting into a flow state. In fact, for a time, I got my email checking down to only Monday, Wednesday, Friday. It was great for not only productivity, but also lower stress levels!

21. Limiting Meetings

Definition: Just like limiting emails, you could also aim to limit your meeting times. Think about what meetings could be done via email. If they can’t, make it a rule to cap meeting lengths at 20 to 30 minutes. This can free up time because meetings will generally expand to however long you’ve allocated for them – people chatter, gossip, or bring up issues that aren’t really right for a meeting – they could have been dealt with by a quick email.

BONUS: Eat that Frog!

Definition: Based on the book of the same name, this method is simple: do the hardest task (yes – the one you’ve been putting off) first thing in the morning. This is when you’re fresh and can dedicate your strength to the difficult thing (like eating a frog, which I’m sure is difficult and painful!). I also love this method because I feel really accomplished early on in the day once I’ve completed that hard task. I can feel the stress coming off my shoulders once I’ve done the big task for the day.

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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