Many people that have my respect have said that keeping a personal blog is valuable for many reasons, including, but not limited to: personal brand building, improving written communication, synthesizing thoughts, and testing out new concepts. I’m going to keep this blog updated at least once a week, even if it’s just a few random sentences.
This week, I’m going to provide some productivity tips and tricks for readers, focusing mainly on products and techniques that I’ve tried, and found useful.
- Trello – Task list and project management software. Dead simple to use, and indispensable for time management.
- Toggl – Track the amount of time it takes to complete each task – Useful for measuring efficiency and productivity. I’m using it to measure how long writing this blog article takes!
- RescueTime – Track how much time you are spending on each website and app. If you have trouble focusing, this add-on will track your computer usage throughout the day and splits it into categories. For example, yesterday I only spent 43% of my time on software development. I can definitely improve.
- Sublime Text Editor – No frills text editor that features syntax and code highlighting. Now I use it mostly for dumping random notes that aren’t important enough to Google Doc’d or don’t need to be recorded. But in the past, I’ve used it for everything from coding to SQL queries
- Tomato Timer – A timer that I use for the Pomodoro Technique to maximize focus. (If you haven’t heard of that technique, I highly recommend it. Read more about it in the next section below)
- Google Docs – Self explanatory.
- Set Goals – This is even more important when you are working for yourself. Personally, I’ set weekly goals, one month, 3 month, 6 month, 12 month, and 2 year goals for myself. The one week and one month goals are very granular, where as the goals with a longer time horizon are much more nebulous, but give me something to strive towards. I’m using the OKR setting process used at Google as well as other companies I’ve previously worked at, but any sort of quantifiable goal setting system is probably good as well. Read more about OKRs here.
- Pomodoro Technique – Short focused bursts of intensity are more productive than hours of nonstop work. Spend 25 minutes working as hard as you can, then take a 5 minute break repeat and on the 4th iteration take a 15 minute break. Rinse and repeat. Read more about this technique here
- Mindfulness – Otherwise known as meditation. It is really great for refreshing the mind and retaining focus, but Mindfulness and Meditation have some branding issues. Many people think it’s some crazy hippy new age thing with Ohms and Chakras, but I’ve been meditating on and off for the better part of a decade now and I can say that it works to enhance productivity and overall well-being, and my experience is backed by many peer reviewed studies. Some great apps to try are Calm and Head Space.
- Exercise – 45 minutes of cardio and resistance training 3-4 times a week will give you more energy, work harder, relieve stress, and stay in shape. I will run 2-3 miles and then follow that up with some resistance training.
- Daily task review – Every morning while I sip on coffee, I take 15 minutes to think about the most important things to accomplish today. Before I clock out, I spend 15 minutes thinking about the things I have to do tomorrow.
- Regular learning review – In order to help me retain more important information, I’ll write notes whenever I learn something new. At the end of the day I’ll spend 30 minutes reviewing what I’ve learned. At the end of the week I’ll quickly review all the notes that I took throughout the week, and then organize them into different subjects, putting them into google docs.
- No Excuses – Don’t have them.
I’ve found these techniques to be useful, but I’d love to hear more suggestions on how I can be more efficient and productive with my time. If you have any more suggestions about productivity and efficiency, let me know!