Last updated on October 11th, 2020
There are hundreds of methods and theories out there which help to improve personal productivity.
But which one is the best? How to distinguish one from another? And when should we use which method?
In fact, most people do not have any system at all and if so, use it inconsistently. Others do not know that they actually have developed their own method but simply call it a collection of habits.
This article examines the best personal productivity methods and techniques for 2021 to help you find and finetune your personal favorite.
1. What does Personal Productivity mean to you?
Before getting started with a new technique, you should first ask yourself:
What does Personal Productivity mean to you?
Depending on your objectives and current circumstances you may answer this question differently.
1.1 Visual - Tangible - Conceptual - Analytic
Once you have found the right definition for yourself, you may ask yourself what kind of person you are and how you prefer to tackle new tasks.
Are you that visual person, who likes to see the whole laid out in front of you? Do you often visualize situations and think them through? In this case, productivity methods that have a visual or even non-digital component may be the right choice for you.
Do you feel good when ticking off tasks from a list? Do you feel the need to prioritize and categorize your daily work? In this case, you may be more drawn to tangible methods.
If you have problems sticking to notes, productivity systems, or apps at all, and prefer to handle it in a more holistic way, go for cognitive methods.
Finally, there are methods that go a step further and allow you to structure your workday in more detail and analyze and improve your work habits to achieve the highest outcome. If this sounds like you, you may focus on the methods labeled as analytic methods below.
No matter which methods you are going to try, they should become natural to you after a few days. If this is not the case, mix them up or adjust them to meet your needs. See it as a constant work in progress.
1.2 Take the Test
No time to read them all? Take this test to find out which productivity methed is right for you. *It only takes 3 minutes:
2. Personal Productivity Methods
Let’s dive right in.
Productivity techniques or productivity methods are often called the pillars or cornerstones of your workday.
You may realized that it can be beneficial to switch between methods depending on the upcoming tasks and use a combination of them to find your own individual productivity system.
Here are the top picks to increase productivity:
2.1 Eat That Frog
PERFECT FOR YOU IF YOU…
Struggle with procrastination
Aren’t making progress on the important stuff
Have a hard time sticking to a productivity system
Have trouble deciding what to work on
Feel overwhelmed by your to-do list
How does it work?
Every day, you focus on the most important task (MIT) – the frog – and complete it, if possible, first.
MIT’s are usually difficult, create a lot of mental resistance and you tend to procrastinate them.
Why does it work?
By using this technique, you sort your tasks from hardest to easiest and get your most important, intimidating, anxiety-inducing tasks done while your energy is high.
In this way, your day will get progressively better.
You will also realize that the smaller tasks are then done much easier and you may even complete them with more care and attention to detail.
2.2 The Eisenhower Matrix
PERFECT FOR YOU IF YOU…
Perfect if you…
Struggle to decide what to focus on first
Like to visualize your tasks with graphs
Get continuously distracted by urgent tasks
Want to declutter your work by urgency and importance
How does it work?
By using the Eisenhower Matrix you categorize your daily tasks into 4 quadrants according to urgency and importance:
The 4 Task Quadrants are:
- Do FIRST!
Urgent and important tasks need to be done today and if possible immediately
Important but not urgent tasks should be scheduled. These are often task that bring you closer towards your mid to long-term goals.
Urgent but not important tasks can be repetitive or non-creative tasks which you could delegate to someone else. You can also dig deeper into this strategy by outsourcing certain parts of your tasks and work.
- DON’T DO – Finally, tasks which are not urgent and not important should be elimenated or not done at all. You could also add tasks here, if somebody asks for a favor (See the power of Saying “No”) or tasks which simply do not help you to move forward in your life.