Brilliant Productivity: How We Get $^&! Done
BRILLIANT Ways We Stay Calm & Get It Done
Some like to say “you have as many hours in the day as Beyonce.” Challenge accepted.
I’m always curious how people stay organized and efficient — whether it’s how they prepare for the week ahead, schedule their day for optimal productivity, or keep on top of their day-to-day tasks. The more specific (and unique!), the better.
Inspired after reading this article on Erin Condren’s productivity tips and practices she swears by, I turned to the Brilliant Ink team to find out their tried-and-true tips and tools for getting things done.
TIPS & BEST PRACTICES
- Make your to-do list for Monday on Friday afternoon when everything is still fresh in your mind. (It also alleviates some of that Sunday night anxiety.) I’ll often block out time on Monday for certain tasks I’m concerned I won’t be able to get to due to meetings or simply Monday unpredictability.
- Set a timer for tasks! I was SO excited when I learned that Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen does this too. If I’m feeling slow or getting hung up on unimportant details, I’ll force myself to spend XX minutes on a task and then move on. I’ll come back to it a few hours later or the following day and will usually be more inspired to push it over the finish line.
- Wake up earlier than you need to. This isn’t necessarily a “productivity” tip, but having time to enjoy coffee while reading the news puts me in a WAY better mindset to conquer the day versus rushing to get ready and use my brain immediately.
- Block out parts of your day. Since I use two sides of my brain, literally, task switching can take me some time and it’s harder to find a groove. I love blocking out time to remember to do things like search for creative inspiration or study for my project management certification.
- Set recurring reminders on your calendar for ongoing tasks so that you can literally see when you need to do something. For example, every month I send a report to the finance team and I have a calendar event for the first day of each month to remind me to do so.
- Color code! It’s HUGE for me. I like to visually see what kind of priorities I have for a week/day so I know how to use my time (for example, designing takes longer than updating a project timeline).
- Learn from others. I regularly turn to the “How I Work” podcast to see how people from all types of fields and industries construct their day. My two favorite episodes: (1) Nancy Duarte, global expert on presentations, on how she prepares for her own presentations (2) Dr. Amantha Imber (host of “How I Work”) on deliberately designing your work day.
- Wunderlist. I’m a big fan! You can share lists with anyone, and each list member can add or check off tasks as they’re complete. It could be used for nearly any project or wish list (and it’s great for family lists, too, like groceries, household to-do’s, etc). I love it because I can also use it on my phone while I’m on-the-go.
+1 to Wunderlist — I keep EVERYTHING in there, and write my daily tasks in a small notebook next to my computer. There’s something satisfying about physically crossing an item off the list. (And having the list right next to me usually keeps me on track.)
- Microsoft To-Do. I’m a HUGE fan! I typically write things down but feel wasteful so I’m trying to stick to digital programs. I also love that I can set reminders on the to-do lists.
Note taking tools
- Microsoft OneNote. Great tool for organizing notes. You can have separate “tabs” that go into larger “binders.” For example, a binder could be a client’s name and a “tab” is the notes from a call or meeting. |
Pro tip: I like to open up a new tab for each call and add the agenda before the call starts so that I can add/bucket my notes in real-time. I also add a separate section at the bottom that says NEXT STEPS so whenever someone says they’ll send me a file or document, or will look into something, I add it to that list.
- Trello. It’s super useful for when you’re working with outside support on design deliverables because you can manage (and visually see) rounds of review/revisions. It’s also helpful for large, long-term projects that are constantly changing.
Remember, “you have as many hours in the day as Beyonce.” Challenge accepted?