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You Only Need A Tiny Journal To Supercharge Your Productivity

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You Only Need A Tiny Journal To Supercharge Your Productivity

You know next month will be busy. Several big projects are due at work, your friend is getting married, and your sister wants you to babysit while she goes on vacation. Suddenly, you start to dread those reminders popping up on your smartphone. That little screen covered with pinging reminders and to-dos is making you feel claustrophobic.

Technology is great for so many things. But sometimes old-fashioned tools just make more sense. Making use of a simple handwritten journal will not only save you from the stress of technology overwhelm, it will also make you more productive in your daily life.

The Challenge of Staying Organized

Chances are you have tried different methods of organization in the past. Post-its, phone apps, calendars. They all have their place as organizational tools. Yet, each of these tools lacks the ability to cover all of your organizational needs in a given month. The sticky side of a Post-it note wears out, and somehow your Post-it reminder about this week’s dentist appointment ends up in the goldfish bowl. Phone apps are easy to ignore when reminders pop up while you are busy doing something else. Calendars don’t usually have enough room for you to list all your daily tasks.

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The Bullet Journal

The Bullet Journal — Invented, ironically, by a digital product designer, this handwritten organizational system is now increasing productivity for people around the world. Ryder Carroll of Brooklyn, NY experienced the same challenges with organization that all of us face in the digital age. Yet instead of turning his smartphone to silent, hunkering down, and hoping the barrage of reminders would stop, he decided to invent a new strategy for getting organized. In the process, he wound up returning to old-fashioned pen and paper to get the job done.

Setting Up Your Bullet Journal

The Bullet Journal only takes about half an hour to set up at the beginning of each month. Setting it up involves creating a simple index along with monthly and daily logs. Carroll invented a collection of symbols to easily separate tasks, events, and notes. As a result, you can write down everything you need to get done all in one list, while easily distinguishing between these three categories. The monthly log allows for an overview of the weeks ahead, while the daily log breaks down your to-dos into bite size chunks. Check out this video for more information about the Bullet Journal and how to set one up for yourself.

The Bullet Journal has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, and it enjoys over 100,000 followers on various Facebook groups. In a time where smartphone apps reign supreme, this handwritten system has gathered quite a following.

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Simple Ways to Get Started

1. Buy a paper journal of your choice.

It doesn’t get any easier than that. The Bullet Journaling system works with any type of journal or notebook.

2. Find and make use of a pen.

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Yes, I am actually putting this as a step. Considering that most of us spend our time typing or inputting information on our phones, finding a quality pen takes attention these days. I also want to highlight how ridiculously simple it is to get started with a Bullet Journal to show you that you really have no excuse.

3. Watch Carroll’s short video about setting up the Bullet Journal.

You can find the video in the middle of this article. Pay attention to the symbols he uses and be sure to record each page in your index. Other than that, his tips are pretty self-explanatory.

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4. Enjoy increased productivity and less stress.

With all of your reminders and notes in one place, you can scan your daily log in the morning and then relax, knowing that you will remember to get everything done.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay.com via pixabay.com

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Lindsay Shaffer

Lindsay is a passionate teacher and writer who shares thoughts and ideas that inspire people to follow their passions.

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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