The list includes:
- Free productivity planners from Productive Flourishing – Charlie Gilkey
- Time Management For Creative People – Mark McGuinness
- How to Become an Early Riser – Steve Pavlina
- The Autofocus System – Mark Forster
- The Complete Flake’s guide to Getting Things Done – Sonia Simone
- Pomodoro Technique – Francesco Cirillo
Hopefully there is something to complement your style of working, and spur you into action on the journey to your goals.
Let’s not delay.
Charlie Gilkey is the main man over at the Productive Flourishing website; a site dedicated to the “art of meaningful action.”
In addition to a thoughtful and inspiring blog, one of the best attributes of this site is the extensive range of free planners just waiting to put a little order into people’s lives.
The planners are simple to use and help directing your thoughts actively towards being more productive rather than just busy.
The site includes daily, weekly and monthly planners which take into account upcoming events and tasks which might crop up unexpectedly.
People who love scheduling and have a little practice already in doing so. All planners, except the Productivity Jumpstarter and the Productivity Heatmap fit onto one page and include a small calendar of the month so you have a bigger timeframe perspective when you’re scheduling your tasks.
They are neat, well formatted and a hit for people who love words like “milestones” “objective” and “deadlines”
Not so good for:
People who don’t like forms, or need a bit more experience in planning and scheduling their day. The planners are simple to use, but are probably a better tool for those already a little self-disciplined when it comes to getting things done. If you’re a beginner in this sense however, definitely bookmark these to review in the future.
This e-book has been downloaded a whopping 80,000 (and counting) times and was penned by Mark McGuinness: poet and coach behind the Wishful Thinking and Lateral Action websites.
Mark’s focus is on providing tools, resources and training for creative freelancers and entrepreneurs. As a poet and entrepreneur himself Mark understands the important yet challenging combination of a creative spirit and a business mind.
At 32 pages, it is crammed with practical advice illustrated with useful examples. It covers how to avoid endless to do lists, categorising your tasks efficiently and how to highlight and protect your most creative times of the day.
Written in a personable style, it’s like having a cup of tea and a chat with a productive friend who is sharing tips about how he manages to get things done.
Creative people who would like to have enough structure to get things done, without being so rigid as to constrain creativity.
Not so good for:
People looking for a quick read. The conversational style to this book makes it easy to read despite having a lot of words to the page. Some people however may prefer a resource that is more bullet points and worksheet based.
Steve’s personal development blog may appear understated in design, but his words pack a punch of productivity and these articles on how to become an early riser are no exception.
The basic principle of this technique is that if you want to get an earlier start to your day, rise at the same time every day, and go to bed only when you feel tired. Steve puts it far more eloquently than I do however.
In these articles Steve shows how this simple technique has extended his days without sapping his energy and improved his productivity overall.
The articles take about 20 minutes to read and digest and you can start putting his advice into practice the very next day.
People who are disciplined and natural “morning people.”
Not so Good For:
Those who find their alarm clocks send them into a spasmodic rage that induces immediate narcolepsy once the “off” button has been slammed. (Though Steve admits he used to be very similar…)
Mark Forster has written 3 books about time management and has developed a system for getting things done called AutoFocus.
In short, Autofocus is like one long to do list, but there is a method of splitting up different tasks and working through the items with the flexibility to pick which ones you want to work on at that moment in time.
It gives you the power to choose what you want to tackle so that you are more focused rather than forcing yourself to work on something that doesn’t take your fancy. It’s very easy to set out using a pen and paper so old school to-do listers are probably going to like this.
I found the constant reviewing of my tasks and picking something I wanted to work on a good way for building productive momentum. It really makes you question the tasks on your list, particularly those which you want to ignore. You have a choice here to scratch them from the list altogether, or re-word the task at hand into a smaller, more manageable activity.
I enjoyed being able to work on something for as long as I wanted to, though this may not be enough incentive for those of who need a little extra encouragement.
Those well versed in organising, looking to experiment with different styles of time management
Not so good for:
Complete beginners in organising themselves or those lacking in self-discipline as there is a bit too much flexibility in the completion of tasks.
Sonia Simone is Senior Editor over at Copyblogger. Her website Remarkable Communication looks at building relationships through marketing that won’t make you feel queasy or slimy.
This article on her blog is a great short piece to read. If you’re not the most organised person in the world, have an attention span of about half an hour and really want to get things done you’ll enjoy this.
It’s a great practical piece with advice you can implement straight away resulting in goal-orientated action that lasts no more than 20 minutes.
Simple, straight forward and easy to fit into your lunch break; this is the perfect taster into productivity.
People who want to ease themselves into action, but act nonetheless
Not so good for:
People looking for more detailed productivity plans.
Francesco Cirillo developed this technique after his first year at university when he found himself in a state of “low productivity and high confusion.”
Rather than head to the student’s union for cheap beer and distractions, Francesco tackled the problem head on and developed a technique which is the equivalent of having your mum interrupt you regularly to see that you’re not just leafing through the latest copy of The Bluegrass Newsletter, but are in fact tidying your room / doing your homework / washing the cat / walking the car.
I’ve still got to try out this technique and might do so next week when I could do with some “end of the month” focus.
In its simplest form, this uses a timer of some form (“Pomodoro” is based on the Italian word for pepper based on the kind of kitchen timer the author used when he developed the technique).
The timer is set to short increments of approximately 25 minutes and the idea is that you work solidly on something for 25 minutes and then take a very short break (5 mins) once the timer rings. After 4 Pomodoro timer increments you are allowed a longer break.
The idea of this technique is to get you focused on your tasks in short sharp bursts, keeping up momentum and attention levels. Whilst working on your 25 minutes, you are to be fully focused, no checking email, no taking phone calls etc, and I suspect that for those of us used to distractions and multi-tasking are going to find this quite exhausting to start.
The technique also includes worksheets so you have a plan and structure to your day – the timer is to then enforce that your time is focused on the action that will get those things done.
(Probably) Good for:
Those who are prone to distractions , daydreams and staring into space. The sort of person who tends to flit from one project to another and could do with more focus.
(Perhaps) Not so Good for:
Those looking for a more flexible productivity system.
So that’s it from the Goals series, I’d love to hear more about the tips and techniques you are using to achieve your goals, and wish you the best of luck with it!