An Example of a Personal Productivity System

I believe that everybody could benefit from a personal productivity system. There is nothing more rewarding at the end of the day than enjoying a sense of achievement. I’m going to share with you my personal productivity system so that you can adopt it and modify it to suit yourself.

So the first thing to do is to write down a list. No, not a “To Do” list. The list should be a “Not To Do” list. Make a list of the things that you shouldn’t do because they are barriers to your personal productivity. Here are five examples that are often on my list. I have included the explanations so you can see the reason for the items.

1. Don’t procrastinate.

Sometimes I’m guilty of putting things off rather than planning my day so I do the hardest thing first.

2. Don’t waste time on the web.

Whilst I’m looking for something on the web, I get distracted by other interesting pieces of information. When I look up words in the dictionary or the thesaurus, I am prone to looking at other words as well.

3. Don’t encourage interruptions.

Often I don’t close my office door, so people who are passing sometimes interrupt me to socialise. This wastes a lot of time.

4. Don’t lose your focus.

I have a sign in my office next to my monitor and it says, “If what you are doing is not moving you to your objective, don’t do it!” This helps me to consider what I’m doing on a regular basis to make sure that I am doing things which are going to make me progress. It is so easy to get sidetracked.

5. Don’t forget to plan tomorrow.

The last thing that I do at the end of my working day is to plan what I’m going to do the following day. This enables me to start my day quickly. I don’t have to think about planning. I can get straight into my work.

As part of my personal productivity system, I have included 20 minutes a day for thinking. During this 20 minutes each day, I turn off my phones, make sure I’m not going to get any interruptions, put my hands behind my head and think. This thinking time is used for strategy planning and problem solving.

It requires a certain amount of discipline to take time out to think because of the temptations of socialising, coffee and other distractions. Some of my best thinking has occurred during this 20 minute break when I have been really creative.

My final strategy is to take a break every 50 minutes. This time is flexible but generally speaking I make sure that I have a stretch, stand-up and move around for a few minutes after every block of 50 minutes. I organise my work in blocks of time during my daily planning at the end of each working day.