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You Only Need A Tiny Journal To Supercharge Your Productivity

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

Freelance Writer, Artist, Photographer

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Last Updated on September 17, 2018

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

How bad really is multitasking?

It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

So what to do about it?

Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

Now, forget about how to multitask!

Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

1. Get enough rest

When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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2. Plan your day

When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

4. When at your desk, do work

We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

5. Learn to say no

Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

6. Turn off notifications on your computer

For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

The bottom line

Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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