Slay Your Goals: 15 Genius Productivity Techniques for Getting Things Done

Productivity techniques – those seemingly supernatural solutions that vow to make us more efficient, organized, and successful personally and professionally. Everywhere we turn, a new method or system claims to be the key to unlocking productivity nirvana.

But with so many alternatives out there, it is overwhelming to know where to start. Should we try the Pomodoro Technique or the Eisenhower Matrix? What about the 80/20 rule or the Rule of Three?

In this extensive guide, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most popular productivity techniques, break down how they work, and help you decide which ones might be right for you.

Even if not all of them pan out for you, it’s still worth your time to perform your little productivity test to see whether they help you change your perspective on what you’re doing.

The Checklist Manifesto

The idea behind the Checklist Manifesto is that many things we do daily are complicated. It can lead to us making mistakes because we are not good at applying our knowledge.

Atul Gawande, a surgeon and contributor to The New Yorker, developed the Checklist manifesto method to tackle a big issue in modern medicine. He soon realized that his solution could be applied to a bigger problem.

Using a checklist can be a great way to minimize pressure and reduce mistakes. It can provide a simple and effective way to keep track of all the crucial tasks.

It’s as easy as it seems. For any task you do regularly or one that’s more complicated than usual, it’s a good idea to make a checklist of everything that must be done to ensure you do it right.

Break down that big task into smaller, more manageable steps. List everything you need to do, from the first step to the final review. Be aware of all of the subsequent steps.

Ivy Lee Method

In 1918 the Ivy Lee Method was born. Charles M. Schwab — one of the world’s wealthiest men and the president of the biggest shipbuilding company in the United States at that time— wanted to improve his team’s productivity.

Schwab asked Ivy Lee, a productivity expert, to meet with him and his executives for advice. Lee spoke to each executive for fifteen minutes and showed them how to improve their productivity. This is the simple yet effective process:

  • Identify six key activities you wish to complete the following day and list them after each day.
  • Prioritize them the best way you think, then start working on the first one the following day.
  • Don’t stop until it’s done; only then can you go on to the next activity.
  • As you work through your tasks, cross them off your list. Anything left at the day’s end can be transferred to your list for the next day.
  • Do this every day at work.

The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule, also known as the “Pareto Principle,” is a great way to help you stay productive and get more done. It means that 80% of your results come from only 20% of your efforts. That means you should focus on the tasks that offer the most significant returns rather than waste time on minor things.

This technique can help you use your time effectively and achieve better results. Suppose you’ve ever felt like you’re putting in effort without getting anything done. In that case, it’s probably because you’re not focusing on the most important things. The 80/20 rule is designed to help you figure out what tasks are most important so you can get more done.

Deep Work

Deep work is about getting into the zone and focusing intensely on one thing for an extended period. It’s like training your brain to stay concentrated and present so that you can make the most of your cognitive capacity.

To do this, stay focused and avoid unnecessary busy work that can zap your concentration. But you also need to schedule regular sessions, with a goal in mind, that last for at least 90 minutes. This is a highly sought-after skill, and it’s among the most effective productivity strategies.

Further reading: Cal Newport’s Deep Work summary

Getting Things Done (GTD)

The point of GTD is to write down everything you’re thinking so you can concentrate on what really matters. If you’re the type of person who lies awake at night with your brain buzzing with ideas, then GTD is a great option.

GTD will help you make sense of all your thoughts and ideas so your efforts will be more directed on critical matters. GTD enables you to find time to make your ideas happen. It’s a great way to organize your thoughts and ensure you finish everything.

This process consists of five stages:

  1. Capture – Immediately after an idea strikes, jot it down. Then proceed with the task at hand.
  2. Clarify – Revisit your notes and transform them into simple, doable measures.
  3. Organize – Add appointments to your calendar and tasks to your task management software. Remember to delegate anything that needs to be done so you can keep on top of things.
  4. Review – Checking in on yourself daily can help ensure you’re staying on top of your tasks. Doing a weekly review can help you see which needs to be reassessed or reassigned.
  5. Engage – Take on the most pressing jobs first. Keep your mind on the job by turning off all potential interruptions.

Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY)

The DRY Principle encourages avoiding duplication of effort by using previously completed tasks. Because repetition is inefficient and unnecessary, the DRY Principles recommend establishing routines and utilizing premade templates to reduce it. This productivity technique is commonly useed in software development.

For instance, you could create email templates for messages you send often or project status reports for recurring tasks. You can even get apps to automate your daily admin and reduce time spent on complex yet crucial activities. All in all, DRY Principle is a great way to save time and energy.

The Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is all about tackling the most critical tasks first, no matter when they’re due. President Eisenhower used this strategy, which worked well, hence the name.

It’s a way to ensure we prioritize activities that align with our goals instead of only focusing on the ones with the nearest deadline. There are four quadrants in this matrix. Each matrix represents a different level of urgency and importance:

  • Urgent And Important: These tasks require immediate attention and are high priority. They should be completed as soon as possible.
  • Important But Not Urgent: These tasks are important but don’t require immediate attention. They should be scheduled and planned for to prevent them from becoming urgent.
  • Urgent But Not Important: These are urgent but not necessarily important tasks. If possible, they should be delegated to someone else or completed quickly to free up time for more critical tasks.
  • Not Urgent And Not Important: These tasks are neither urgent nor essential. They should be eliminated or postponed to free up time for more critical tasks.

Time Blocking

Time blocking is a great way to be more productive. It’s based on the idea that if you give yourself a certain length of time to complete a task, you’re more likely to stay focused and get it done. It’s like a mini-challenge to yourself – instead of letting a job take up as much time as you give it, you set a limit and keep it within that.

This means you could be more deliberate about how you spend your time, and it is perfect for getting through those low-value tasks like emails and filing paperwork.

Time blocking is well-liked because it is easy to implement and is highly likely to succeed. To avoid having your most important work interrupted by meetings, you should block off this time in your calendar. Include any appointments or events that can’t be rescheduled. Fill in the gaps with less important tasks as time permits.

Over time, you’ll become more accurate in your time estimates and more confident in declining opportunities that don’t align with your highest priorities.


Single-tasking is preferable compared to multitasking, which is known to reduce efficiency. Most of us juggle because we believe it will increase productivity, but the reverse is usually the case. Our minds can only focus on one complicated task at a time, and that’s why the work we produce suffers whenever we switch between tasks.

A lot of tension can build up when we try to multitask, harming our efficiency. Simply put, single-tasking entails focusing on a single activity at a time. Turn off your phone, close any unnecessary browser tabs, and allow yourself plenty of room to focus on one task at a time.

The Two-Minute Rule

If you have something nagging at you and it won’t take long to do, just get it out of the way. According to David Allen’s book Getting Things Done, if a task will take less than 2 minutes, do it immediately.

This is a great way to stop procrastinating and get that sense of accomplishment – which can boost you and help you get motivated. Also, it will help clear your head, so you don’t have to keep worrying about those little things.

The Rule of Three

People who are highly ambitious or make task lists but need help to get through them can benefit significantly from applying the Rule of Three. Making the most of each day requires prioritizing what matters most and set your sights on accomplishing something worthwhile.

Keeping a daily log of your progress toward your top three goals will help you reach them. Most importantly, they should not be activities but outcomes, such as “complete expenses report.” Setting those three relevant intentions at the start of your day will remind you what you need to concentrate on. Even something as insignificant as this could have significant results.

The Pomodoro Technique

The “Pomodoro Technique” got its name due to the timer’s tomato-like design that its inventor, Francesco Cirillo, used to keep track of how much time he was spending working and how much time he was taking for breaks.

Increasing productivity involves getting into a structured work routine without interruptions and taking regular breaks. Here’s how it works:

  • Select a project to focus on. To focus, you should stop doing everything else.
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes and get in focus mode. Stick to the task until the alarm sounds – this is your Pomodoro.
  • Rest for five minutes. Stop what you’re doing and relax, even in a productive mood. Take only a five-minute break, and make sure of it by setting a timer.
  • Once you’ve done 4 Pomodoros, take some time to relax. A break of 15-30 minutes should do the trick, and it’s best if you get out of your workstation for a bit.

The Pomodoro technique stops you from switching between tasks too much, so you don’t use up all your energy trying to do too many things at once.

Task Batching

Task batching can be a great way to get things done without distraction. It’s about focusing on similar tasks simultaneously rather than switching back and forth between tasks.

It’s more efficient to complete tasks in batches of like kinds.
Do you know that it takes the average person twenty-three minutes to get back on task after being distracted?

Task batching is practical because it reduces time spent switching between different projects. By grouping similar tasks, we can devote more time and energy to the most impactful, forward-moving projects. You may benefit from batching tasks if your work involves a lot of repetition.

The initial setup time required for task batching is its primary drawback. It takes effort to break down large projects into manageable chunks, sort tasks into groups, and set up a workable schedule.

Productivity Journaling

Keeping a productivity journal is like doing practical reflection in slow motion. Writing enthusiasts may find this method appealing, as it requires you to detail your plans and progress. Your diary is a weekly check-in where you can review your progress, learn from your mistakes, and plan for future success.

A productivity journal is a great way to document your feelings when getting stuff done. It can help you focus on the more critical parts of your work and be quite therapeutic. Writing down your thoughts on paper can help your mind clear and benefit your efficiency.

Zen To Done

Zen to Done is a spinoff of the GTD methodology. This productivity technique might be better if you find the GTD method too complicated or rigid. It’s more straightforward and adaptable, making it easier to incorporate into your daily routine.

This system is ideal if you like taking charge and figuring things out independently. You’ll get the most out of it if you take the time to reflect on how things went and what you can do better next time.

Follow these ten guidelines to maximize the effectiveness of Zen to Done:

  1. Collect – Jot down whatever comes to mind, be it an idea, a task, or anything else.
  2. Process – Carry out quick jobs right away. If it can be done in less than two minutes, do it. If not, throw it away, give it to someone else, or put it on the calendar.
  3. Plan – Prioritize the three things that are most important to you this week. Then, plan each day around the most critical tasks. Coordinate the rest of your efforts around those primary goals.
  4. Focus – Focus your efforts solely on a single project at a time.
  5. Keep it simple – Get organized by employing a straightforward method. Stay away from constantly moving between methods.
  6. Organize – Arrange your tasks according to their current stages and the steps you must take to complete them. Organize as you go rather than clean up afterward.
  7. Review – Check in with your weekly goals to stay on the right path. Take a step back every month and review your more significant objectives.
  8. Simplify – When you have a new task, break it down to the basics and get it done quickly.
  9. Routines – Routines become simpler after a while. Try setting up a weekly way, like looking at your emails at a specific time, scheduling all your meetings on the same day, and so on. It’ll help make things go much smoother.
  10. Find your passion – Explore your interests and go after the things that spark your enthusiasm.

By understanding the principles behind different productivity techniques for work, I hope you can decide which technique best fits your needs and goals. By implementing these techniques, you can take a step towards unlocking your productivity nirvana and achieving success in your personal and professional lives.

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