The single best tool for achieving a productive work day is already on your desk. Sure, there are hundreds of apps, websites, and gadgets that could help you get more shit done at work, but the Post-It note works best.
Here’s how to stick it to distractions and get more done, using only a sticky note.
Stick to your note
Start making your daily to-do list on a Post-It. Make a rule to limit your to-do list to only the tasks that will fit on a 3 x 3 inch sticky note each day. Then stick to the rule.
Write your list the day before
Monday through Thursday, you should make the following day’s to-do list at the end of the previous work day. Not only will you arrive the next morning with a plan of attack for the day, having your list ready will prevent you from being sidetracked by distracting emails and “urgent” requests.
Two bigs, five littles
Experts’ opinions vary on how many tasks to put on your list, but I encourage you to record two big tasks and five small ones that you MUST accomplish that day. Then do them! Today, my big to-do’s are to write a feature story and devise a tagline for an invitation. My smaller to-do’s include transcribe an interview, research a story lead, schedule a dentist appointment, and so on.
Leave a bit blank
Leave some room at the bottom of the note, but not much. That way you can add last-minute tasks to that day’s list, but only one or two. When your note is full, add any new tasks that may pop up throughout the day to the Post-It on top of the pad, which makes the task your top priority on tomorrow’s list.
Tackle it early
Everyone’s habits differ, but studies show most workers hit their peak of productivity between 9:30 and 11:30 am. So frontload your day by tackling the big items on your list before lunch. That way, when you’re slipping into a food coma in the afternoon, you won’t be procrastinating the tough stuff.
So there you have it. I should disclose that I didn’t invent this genius method. I stole the idea from an old professor, who stole it from a colleague, who read about it elsewhere. Feel free to steal it yourself.
What tools and tricks do you use to stay on track throughout the day? Tell me in the comments or tweet me!