By Sarah Robson
Following in the footsteps of my predecessor (Robert Dodds, formerly Marketing Manager at Netstar) and his journey with the Productivity Planner I decided to embark on my own journey with the hopes of becoming a Productivity Ninja. You can read about Rob’s experience here. Eagerly anticipating the arrival of Productivity Planner, I was excited to get started, but there were a few things I needed to find out first…
What is Productivity Planner?
Your productivity friend, in handy journal format…
Intelligent Change, the company behind Productivity Planner have done all the hard work of compiling productivity hacks for you, in one rather stylish journal. The intention of the planner is to focus on the most critical element that will significantly reduce stress, and increase happiness at work. This means being engaged with your work and being productive. Learning how to move through tasks quickly and consistently is a skill that can be learned and you can build into your natural flow.
The focus is on planning ahead for your weekly and your daily. Over time this habit will become a natural and integral part of your working process. Each day and week ahead starts with a motivational quote.
Starting with 5 days breaks down the challenge and is a good way to ease into it. I prepared by reading the opening sections which explain the rationale behind the book and how to use it. With day 1 looming I’ll admit I was feeling nervous. I have long been a list maker, and love to write down my daily ‘To Do’ list, but I haven’t always been so good at holding myself accountable to that list, or breaking down how much time it will take to get tasks done.
Day 1, 16th April
I started by filling in the beginning sections where I had to list what I wanted to get out of Productivity Planner, how I would reward myself and what I would have to do if I didn’t succeed with it. I was also asked to fill in things I would do to ensure I used Productivity Planner. This all made me think about how I was going to make this work, and really take it seriously. At this point I wasn’t sure how I felt about my little journal friend who was making me put myself in an uncomfortable position, but I decided to give it a chance.
The method of breaking up blocks of time known as Pomodoro’s was one that felt relatively natural. I listed down my most important task of the day, and then my secondary and additional tasks. Throughout the day I persevered with it, feeling guilty if my mind wandered or I came across a stumbling block. Referring back to the planner meant I also remembered my purpose, and by the end of the day I was able to say I had completed all my tasks; including my lower priority additional tasks. Knowing that I had achieved this gave me a great boost and sense of accomplishment.
Day 2, 17th April
Day 2 and I was determined to have another productive day. With some important work to get into, I set about my tasks; in order of importance as prescribed in the planner. The inspirational quote of the day was a cheerful reminder to be patient and persevere. I worked through my tasks and at the end of the day gave myself a productivity score of 5 out of 10. Due to some unexpected distractions I wasn’t able to achieve as much as expected, but I was able to complete the majority of my tasks.
“Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.”
Day 3, 18th April
By this point I was finding that I was starting to plan my tasks into the days ahead, and checking back against my weekly plan to see what progress I was making. I would come in in the morning, look back at what I had done the previous day, and check what I had already planned in for that day. By the end of the day I had managed to complete everything in my plan for the day, but didn’t feel satisfied as I had jumped around from task to task.
Day 4, 19th April
Day 4, and my enthusiasm had perhaps waned slightly. This was now replaced with an expectation that my working day hadn’t started until I had opened Productivity Planner; it had become the norm for me.
I was starting to realise that by planning fewer tasks I was able to get more done, as a result of working in a more focused manner on the task at hand. This was confirmed by the quote of the day “You need to be doing fewer things for effect instead of doing more things with side effects.” Gary Keller.
Day 5, 20th April
The final day, and as a Friday, probably the most challenging to stay focused with the weekend ahead. Miraculously I managed to get a lot of tasks done without jumping between different ones. I was focused on what I was doing and scored myself an 8 out of 10.
A satisfying working routine and encouraging a natural flow is what this book is all about. Within the first week it certainly gave me an insight into my working style, and the steps I can take to be more productive; the planner being the first part of the journey.
The secret to the process is that it holds you accountable. For most people, they need to feel some sort of pressure to get a job done in order to be at their most productive. Being held accountable is crucial to creating a drive to complete tasks. The genius of the Productivity Planner is that it makes you hold yourself accountable. Over time this learned behaviour turns into a vastly improved working style. It teaches you about your own working style, and helps you uncover the reasons why you are less productive on certain days. I learnt that often the productivity score I gave myself didn’t necessarily relate to how much I had achieved each day, but rather to how I felt doing it. Jumping between different tasks was something I had been guilty of in the past, and it led to a frustrating working style.
“It makes you hold yourself accountable”
After only one week, the results were good. Since then I’ve continued to use it and am already well into my third week. I’ve achieved a lot more from each day, and have a clearer picture of where I need to push myself or take longer to complete a task. It has made working and getting things done a lot more fun and engaging. Who doesn’t like to list what they have achieved that day? As a result, I am determined to keep using it, and continue on my journey to becoming as productive as possible.
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