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We all want to make the most out of our days. Sometimes we may get distracted throughout the day by email, chat notifications, or a co-worker's story about their weekend. This can make it hard to get into a groove at work. At Aztek, we recently had a group learning session to share different methods we use to improve productivity. Here are some of our favorites.
The Pomodoro Technique
This is an idea was brought to us by Jared, one of our senior developers. It encourages having a set amount of time to focus on a task with periodic short breaks. This article in LifeHacker does a great job of summing up the technique:
"The Pomodoro Technique was invented in the early '90s by developer, entrepreneur, and author Francesco Cirillo. Cirillo named the system 'Pomodoro' after the tomato-shaped timer he used to track his work as a university student. The methodology is simple: When faced with any large task or series of tasks, break the work down into short, timed intervals (called 'Pomodoros') that are spaced out by short breaks. This trains your brain to focus for short periods and helps you stay on top of deadlines or constantly-refilling inboxes. With time it can even help improve your attention span and concentration."
The bursts of work are usually 25-minutes long, with a 5-minute break after each one. After four "Pomodoro" working sessions you get a longer, usually 15 minute, break.
The nice thing about this technique is that there are a lot of plug-ins to help you do this, so you don't have to sit with a tomato timer at your desk. Some good ones can be found in this article. We also like the Google Chrome plug-in, which you can find here.
If you are a Slack user, there is also a Pomodoro bot that you can install. The nice thing about the bot is that you are able to submit what you have completed during that session as you complete it, and also document any distractions that happened during your working session. The bot then tells you what you completed and what distractions you need to address when your working session is complete.
As it states on the Trello website, Trello boards "...enable you to organize and prioritize your projects in a fun, flexible and rewarding way."They are a great way to keep all of your tasks organized. A lot of Aztek team members use Trello to organize both their tasks and their days. You are able to make a custom workflow that works for your needs. This allows you to be more productive because you are working in a way that works for you. Check out some of these boards for inspiration to start your own.
This is a concept that we strive for at our agency. We tend to find that when people set time lengths for meetings, they tend to use every last minute, even if they could have been completed a meeting in much less time. For example, if someone makes a meeting for 30 minutes, it's more than likely that the meeting will go for the full half hour, even if it only needed to be 15 minutes.
That time is typically filled with people getting off track or talking about something that doesn't pertain to the meeting. That's why we try to challenge ourselves to make meetings for only as long as we think they will take so that we're not wasting time.
If you use Outlook, this can be tricky since the default is to have meetings in increments of 30 minutes. Fortunately, you can manually change this by typing the time limit in the duration box.
Start your morning with a list of tasks that need to be completed that day. Ryan, our vice president of digital marketing, likes to start with the quick and/or least desirable tasks and "must-dos" first. This helps get them out of the way and allow for more focus on the valuable or time-consuming tasks later in the day.
This can be done on paper with checkboxes or a list, or you could combine this with a Trello board that we mentioned above.
There are a lot of different ways to increase your productivity during the day. Check out a couple and see how they go. You never know what method might be the right one to jump-start your productivity during the day!