How I’ve Improved My Productivity in 2021

Towards the end of 2020, I did some reflecting on my productivity. And while I’ve always loved organization, and excelled at time management, I realized as a business owner, an employee, a volunteer, and a friend and family member I realized I wasn’t being as productive as I could.

Mind you, I always managed to get done what needed to be done, however, I would head to bed at the end of the day not feeling like I accomplished all that much. The main cause of all this has been my discipline with my phone. It’s hard to pinpoint everything you’ve got done in a day when those tasks have been divided by Tik Tok, Instagram, and Twitter.

My phone, I’m sure like many, distracted me from staying focused on work and volunteer tasks, along with having meaningful (COVID-safe) conversations with people.

In 2021 one of my personal goals was to become more productive. Even though we’re only in the second month of the year, I feel like I have already achieved this goal and now it just needs to continue.

Here’s how I did it.

List Organization 

Call me a nerd but I LOVE making lists, I always have. Although, ironically enough, I never used to be that organized with my lists. I would stick everything I wanted and needed to get done on one list and hope for the best. I would then feel completely defeated at the end of the day if there were a few items not ticked off. 

Now, I am more organized with my lists and break them into sections. 

A person writing in a notebook.

First, let’s discuss my lists for my day job as a Copywriter/Digital Marketing Assistant. I have three lists. The first consists of all my meetings, the second has all of the projects/tasks I need to finish/work on, and the last one has my goals (items that I want to work on but aren’t a priority that day).

For my business, freelance, and volunteer projects on a bigger scale I use Trello – a super user-friendly platform that allows you to easily organize projects. Trello allows you to set due dates for all tasks. I then prioritize these due dates depending on how soon they’re coming up. Then, using the good-old-fashioned pencil and paper (or my whiteboard) I make a list of the top three to five items that need to be completed that day.

Lastly, every morning I create a rough schedule for the day allocating how/where my time will be divided.

The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique, in short, is a time management method where you break up your work times into smaller chunks. Use your discretion for what you think will work best for you, however, the most common system (and the one I use) is 25 minutes of work followed by a five-minute break.

I’ve only been implementing this technique, which I first heard about in a John Fish YouTube video, for just under a week but I’ve already accomplished more than I would have had I not been using this technique. I find it easier to stay focused when I know I have a short break coming up. 

Building Better Routines

Watching ‘Morning’ or ‘Evening’ routines on YouTube always used to make me feel motivated while simultaneously making me feel confused. I had never really put much thought into my routines right when I woke up or right before I went to bed. I always just kind of ‘did it’. But after putting some thought into what my ideal morning and evening looks like, I have been able to build better routines that set me up for a good day and a good night’s rest.

A cup of coffee with 'Good Morning' written on it.

My goal of being more productive was never to accomplish more, finish tasks quicker, or fit more into my days, it was to make better use of my time. With the practices outlined above, I am doing just that, and everything else is just a bonus.


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