DIY Productivity in Action
From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis
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Recently, I shared my 21-day productivity challenge sponsored by Post-it® Brand. To prepare, I took a quiz using the Post-it® Brand Productivity Tool to find out what type of planner I am. In that productivity quiz, I found out I’m a “Mindful Maverick” and need visual cues. So, using their recommendations, I changed my productivity system and added some new hacks. (You can read them here.)
Now, in this post, I’m going to share three things based on what I’ve learned during the last twenty one days.
- Some favorite hacks and tipsI discovered (see the last 5 I shared here)
- Why Do-It-Yourself Planning is the only thing that works and why Post-it® Brand Products should be part of it.
- What I learned from the 21-day challenge and how it will change my planning going forward
Part 1: My Favorite Hacks
Hack #1: Weekly Task Brain Dump
So, I admit, I blogged about this last time, but I’ve started using the task brain dump as part of my weekly planning routine. While I previously used this technique when I was planning my year or planning a book, now, I’ve discovered how useful it is as part of a weekly routine.
As I watched the four videos from the Post-it® Brand productivity experts including chef Russell Jackson, Teacher of the Year Sia Kyriakakos, fitness artist and spiritual wellness expert, Nicole Winhoffer and health business owner, Anna Young, I was inspired by all of their productivity tips.
The one that stuck out to me the most was Chef Russell Jackson probably because he takes a very creative approach that suits my lifestyle this summer. Summer is when I do my creative projects. Whether it is writing books, catching up with clean up, or getting information technology ready for the fall, I have a lot going on in my head. It just helps to get it out like Chef Jackson does in his planning system.
So, Russell Jackson says that his Post-it® Notes are his “hammer and nail.” I would go as far as to say that Post-it® Super Sticky Notes are my “hammer and nail” of my DIY productivity system. I prefer to use the Post-it® Super Sticky Notes because they stick to everything and let me move them around. (See below.)
How does a weekly brain dump work?
Step 1: Get all the tasks out of your brain. Here’s how I do this. As you can see in the photo below, often I brainstorm at my desk and get everything out of my head. One idea per Post-it® Note. Only one. I stick them to my desk and color code them.
Step 2: Organize and Order. Then, I have this lovely fireplace that is not used in the summertime in my office. (I do live in South Georgia. It gets hot here. So, I use the mantle as a personal Kanban board of sorts where I arrange the notes in priority and order.
Step 3: Work on one at a time. Then, when I’m ready to work, I grab the Post-it® Note I’m working on now and place it on the bottom of my screen. (No surprise, I’m working on this article right now!)
Hack #2: Have a Creation Station Nearby
As part of this 21-day challenge, I’ve taken the leveled box that used to hold envelopes and loaded it with organizing and creating supplies. I call this my creation station. Of course, my creation station includes Post-it® Super Sticky Notes and Post-it® Flags and Post-it® Tabsas well as a few other supplies I use frequently. Having Post-it® Notes handy in the creation station means I can pick them up and use them anywhere I need in the house.
Hack #3 Organize on the Fly
When I organize, I try not to rewrite anything. So, I use Post-it® Super Sticky Notes to mark and organize things in a way that works for me. You can see the example below from today when I was organizing our paperwork in the office.
Part 2: Why DIY Planning Works and Why Post-it® Brand should be part of it.
As shared in my book Do What Matters, I’ve been making my planner forms since my Dad bought a Mac in 1985. Even people I know who buy commercial planners or use apps have their unique hacks. Our ability to organize hinges upon our habits. One of the biggest mistakes I ever made is when I tried to go paperless and put everything in apps. As a visual organizer, for me, it was out of sight out of mind. I forgot things. Nothing was getting done. Even worse — I had large lists of two and three hundred things!
In the end, our ability to organize hinges upon our habits. One of the biggest mistakes I ever made is when I tried to go paperless and put everything in apps. As a visual organizer, for me, it was out of sight out of mind. I forgot things. Nothing was getting done. Even worse — I had large lists of two and three hundred things! What a mess.
So, as I was losing my mind, I sat down and talked to Kip, my husband. (He’s kind of like my personal consultant when I’m struggling to keep up.) He asked me what worked. I told him that the only thing that ever worked was when I made my organizational system on paper and customized it. So, I went back to that.
But, even then, it is easy to have too many things on the list. So, I every day take an orange Post-it® Super Sticky Note and put my top 3 things for school. I take another brightly colored Post-it® Super Sticky Note and write my top three things to do at home. I stick these on my planner. (See photo.)
Understandably, we all have different ways that we organize. Each of us has our need. So, part of self-management is knowing your style of productivity whether you are trying to stay organized at work or home. A survey commissioned by Post-it® Brand found that 61 percent of working Americans believe they’d be more productive at home if they used the same organization strategies they use at work.* Something to think about!
I believe that to be most productive, we’re all really “do it yourself” or DIY. All it takes is one look on Pinterest to see just how DIY planners are everywhere. Some people draw in leather bound journals, others make computer forms (like me), and still, others just keep a small list. After all, you’re 42 percent more likely to get something done if you write it down.**
However, whatever you do, there’s always a need to emphasize something. I’ve found in my goal of only writing things one time, that putting important items on Post-it® Super Sticky Notes lets me move them from place to place (see Hack #1 above). I can bring them into my planner or move them from page to page.
Part 3: What I learned from the 21-day challenge
So, to recap, in the 21-day challenge that I blogged about, I agreed to:
- Do one thing at a time.
- Leave two kind Post-it® Notes a day
- List three things I have to do each day – one for school and one for home.
BIG WINS: One Thing at a Time and Keeping a List of Most Important Things. Because I took the challenge at the end of the school year, this is my most stressful time! I can say that this project caused me to be more intentional about my planning. I can’t say I didn’t feel stress because the end of the school year is stressful! I don’t know of any productivity system that can prevent stress, especially for teachers.
But I can say that I was better organized and got all the important things done. Focusing on one thing at a time really helped me. I can also say that in the week and a half that I’ve been out of school that I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of work done at home using this system (and found time for a few naps.)
WILL DO AGAIN: Kindness notes. The area where I fell short was spreading kindness with the two Post-it® Notes a day. I started, but then, the school year ended and I’ve spent much more time at home. This is a challenge I’m going to pick back up in the fall and see how it works. Kindness is contagious.
For me, being organized and productive isn’t for me just about doing more. Being productive is about doing what matters. And I recommend Post-it® Brand because I’ve used them a very long time.
Post-it® Brand Products work. And they help me do what matters and stay productive at the same time.
*The 3M Productivity Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 1,021 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18+, between March 30th and April 5th, 2017, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adult population 18 and older.
**Matthews, G. (2007). The impact of commitment, accountability, and written goals on goal achievement. Paper presented at the 87th Convention of the Western Psychological Association, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
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