Everyone is looking for ways to be more productive. When you stay focused and work efficiently, you get more done and have clarity on what you're trying to achieve. But productivity doesn't come easy. In this digital age, staying focused and avoiding distractions is more challenging than ever. That is why we often need some framework and a systematic approach to help us get our tasks done efficiently, wasting as little time as possible. 

Productivity methods are frameworks that make you work smarter, not harder. In this post, we have put together the top ten productivity methods for you to choose from. 

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How to Choose the Suitable Productivity Method for You?

The right productivity method can have a significant impact on your work. A smooth workflow can transform you from feeling overwhelmed, unfocused, and unproductive to feeling confident, in control, and ready to take on any challenging task coming your way. 

Numerous productivity techniques are being developed, tweaked, and shared every day to cater to users' varying needs and tendencies. So, it might take a bit of trial and error to find a system that fits your work style, personality, motivators, and habits. 

To make it easier for you, we've listed some of the most popular and powerful productivity methods, how each works, and the pros and cons of each of these productivity techniques. Not everyone operates the same, so every productivity method will not suit everyone. This guide will help you choose the right framework for you. 

Why Having a Productivity Method is Important? 

Our brains are easily distracted. And our attention spans are getting shorter than ever. That is why productivity systems are essential – to keep our attention focused so we can get more done in less time. Productivity systems can help you organize and prioritize your work, making it easier to streamline tasks at hand and maximize efficiency. Find the one that fits you best.

Top 10 Productivity Methods

1. Personal Kanban

One of the most popular productivity techniques in terms of visual appeal and ease of use, Kanban lets you split your to-do list into three categories – 

  • To do/ Backlog – all tasks that need to get done soon
  • In progress/ Doing – tasks you're currently working on
  • Done – tasks already finished 

In this method, the organization is visual, so users can easily see an overall view of their work. The system uses two rules:

  • Visualize your Work
  • Limit your Work in Progress (WIP) 

Pros 

  • Strong visualization
  • Easy to implement and manage
  • Easy to track progress

Cons

  • Visualizing long task lists can be overwhelming
  • Difficult to scale
  • Not suitable for multiple-level projects

2. Eat the Frog

This technique is simple in that it starts by getting the 'frog' or the most challenging task of the day done first. Getting the hardest task out of the way early in the day can build up confidence and help you get closer to your goals. With Eat the frog, you can prioritize your tasks according to difficulty or significance, ensuring that you're working on what matters most first. 

Pros

  • Get the most important task done early in the day when your energy and focus are at their highest
  • Strengthens willpower
  • Reduces stress for the remaining part of the day

Cons

  • Requires strong willpower to start the day by tackling the task you least want to do
  • Can be emotionally exhausting and affect the rest of the day
  • Easy to stop the habit

3. SMART Goals

This framework will help you set your goals and concentrate on achieving what you want. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, Time-bound. Be specific with the goals you want to achieve and allocate the time needed to reach that goal. 

Pros

  • Can be used to guide your daily prioritization
  • A good goal will keep you motivated
  • You have a clear definition of success
  • You can measure your progress

Cons

  • Does not address the conflict between goals
  • The time-bound nature may cause stress
  • Too much focus on goals

4. The Action Method

Observe all projects you want to complete, and break down each one into three types of folders:

  • Action Steps – for the following action time in the project
  • References – resources that need to be kept but not acted upon
  • Back-burner items – things or ideas that might be needed later.

Pros

  • You can see everything that needs to be done
  • Your tasks and ideas will stay fresh in the mind
  • As you complete tasks, the list will keep dwindling

Cons

  • Not ideal for prioritizing
  • The number and length of lists can seem intimidating

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5. Must, Should, Want

This is an excellent way to prioritize tasks and strike a balance between different requirements. At the start of the day, create a list based on:

"I must…"

"I should…"

"I want to…"

Pros

  • Helps maintain focus
  • Makes you prioritize
  • Considers personal preferences

Cons

  • Not suited for long and complicated lists
  • Tasks are not always easy to categorize between these three categories

6. Time Blocking

Time blocking is a time management system that breaks down work sessions into several blocks and assigns specific jobs to each block. This technique has a single-tasked, time-controlled approach that makes you work harder and faster.

Pros

  • The most critical tasks certainly get done 
  • Days are productive and structured
  • Hidden free time gets revealed
  • You have control over time, and don't overstuff your day

Cons

  • All things cannot be pre-planned
  • It gets hard to estimate new tasks 
  • Can feel too rigid at times

7. Getting Things Done

This tool focuses on organizing everything that needs to get done and schedules them into one productivity system. It works in 5 steps, namely 'capture, clarify, organize, reflect and engage.' You can find it a bit complex at first, but the GTD technique is vital for achieving goals and can be customized to suit most needs. 

Pros

  • Frees up the mind from storing things
  • All tasks are organized in one list
  • You'll never miss a task deadline

Cons

  • Needs to be maintained daily
  • The long list can get overwhelming 
  • Needs immense structure and discipline to make it work

8. Pomodoro

The Pomodoro method uses a timer to break the workday into short periods, spaced by breaks. You work in short 25 minute periods, with 5-minute of break time. Once you have completed the cycle 3-5 times, you can take a more extended break.

With Pomodoro blocks, you can tackle larger, complex tasks into manageable stints and stay focused during work time. 

Pros

  • Complete bouts of productivity
  • You can take many breaks
  • Helps build focus

Cons

  • Not every task can fit into 25 minutes session
  • At certain times, the timer can go off while you're in the midst of a task distracting you

9. The Eisenhower Matrix

This easy prioritization system labels task priorities based on their urgency and importance. The method uses four quadrants to classify tasks: 

  • Urgent and important
  • Urgent but not important
  • Important but not urgent
  • Not urgent or important

The categorization allows you to manage your time and efforts better, making you more productive.  

Pros

  • You can easily see which task should be done first
  • You can better manage your time as you won't focus on unimportant and not urgent tasks
  • Easier to spot which tasks can be omitted

Cons

  • Can be hard to decide which category each task falls into
  • Some unimportant and not urgent tasks might stay pending for long
  • Does not work well with big projects

10. Zen to Done

Zen to Done (ZTD) is built on similar grounds to Getting Things Done (GTD), but with a twist. ZTD focuses more on personal development and habit optimization than individual tasks and projects. Like GTD, ZTD outlines all thoughts and narrows them down to the few most important ones to be performed each day.

Pros

  • Little chance of getting overwhelmed
  • You'll know exactly which tasks need to be done
  • You need not hurry before going to the next task

Cons

  • It can take quite some time to get through the task list
  • It is still hard to form new habits
  • There is no prioritization method

Now that you know some of the best methods to improve productivity, give them a try and see what works best for your needs. 

A great way to increase your productivity is to ensure that you keep yourself upskilled on the latest tools and technologies on the market. Upskilling ensures you stay relevant in your field and add more value to your career. Simplilearn offers some amazing programs like Lean Six Sigma and PGP in Project Management that can help you keep your skills market-ready with flexible course timings, industry-ready projects, case studies, and much more.

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