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How can you improve your personal effectiveness?

A step-by-step plan and handy apps for your productivity

You could do everything and feel squeezed out like a lemon by the end of the day. Or you might find a wizard to add an extra couple of hours to a day by magic. Or you could make it easier — use productivity increasing techniques. They will help you focus on your tasks, do everything, and even find a few hours for yourself. What are these techniques, and what tools will help you stick to them? We will tell you this in the article.
Methods to improve personal effectiveness
Time management
The art of managing your time is one of the most rewarding in modern life. A precise time management will greatly simplify your life, and you will be surprised how much time you had wasted before. To start living by the rules of time management, just plan your day in the evening and estimate how much time each task will take. If later you have more tasks, put them into the openings, or schedule them for the next day.

At the end of the day, be sure to assess the results. And if any of the tasks were not completed, think about what exactly prevented you from completing them. Time management allows you to plan each day more mindfully and notice the "time killers" that interfere with your productivity.
Kanban boards for managing tasks
So, everything is clear with planning. Now let's see how you can systematize it. A Kanban board is a way to visualize your tasks, especially if there are many of them, and they all have different stages of completion. For a Kanban board, you can use a regular magnetic board, stickers, or apps like Trello.

The main idea of the method is that you divide the board into 3 columns: "Planned", "In progress" and "Completed", and then group your tasks into these columns. This way you can track your progress and the results of each day.

By the way, you can arrange columns in a different way: for example, add a column "Do it someday" or split your tasks not by progress, but by sphere or importance levels.
SMART goals method
Now let’s see how to describe each task correctly. The SMART goal method says that any task should be:

• Specific — For example, make lunch.
• Measurable — For example, spend 40 minutes on this.
• Actionable — implying certain actions. For example, buy groceries, chop vegetables, and boil chicken.
• Relevant — should not interfere with other tasks. For example, stop by the store after work, and do cooking before your evening workout.
• Time-bounded — limited in time or assigned to a specific date. For example, Wednesday at 19:00.

At first, it will be difficult for you to describe each task in this way, but it is not necessary to do it for simpler tasks. SMART goal setting works especially well for large and complex tasks.

For example:
• Lose weight in 3 months, exercising in the gym 2 times a week after work.
• Write a book by the summer, spending 1.5 hours on it every day, from 19:30 to 21:00.
Eisenhower Matrix
This method will help you prioritize tasks. According to the Eisenhower matrix, all tasks and agenda items are divided into 4 categories:

• Urgent and important — should be done first.
• Non-urgent, but important — should have a clear deadline.
• Urgent, but not important — if possible, should be delegated.
• Neither urgent nor important — should be recorded in a separate "To do sometime" list. Look through this list from time to time to see if you really need all of the tasks recorded there.
URGENT AND IMPORTANT
bring the laptop to a repair shop
fix errors on the website
complete the project
URGENT, BUT NOT IMPORTANT
call a business partner
go to a planning meeting
clean the apartment
do shopping for food
NON-URGENT, BUT IMPORTANT
go to the gym
watch the online course
read a book
prepare for presentation
NEITHER URGENT NOR IMPORTANT
update news feed
buy new sneakers
watch the series
Pomodoro technique
Ok, we have a plan for the day. Now it's time to start implementing it. The Pomodoro technique is perfect for both work and creative tasks, and even for house cleaning. The idea of the technique is to break work into short intervals called "tomatoes". Each 'tomato' is 25 minutes, and after that you can have a 5-minute rest. After you "eat" 4 "tomatoes", take a long break of 15−20 minutes.

The technique helps you avoid being distracted by external stimuli like drinking tea, looking at Instagram", or chatting with a neighbor — all unimportant matters are put aside until the break. To mark the "tomatoes" you've completed, you can use the timer on your smartphone or a special application. For example, the Pomodoro timer in SingularityApp.

This technique can be customized for your needs. For example, you can work for 50 minutes instead of 25, and take 10-minute breaks. By the way, we have a detailed review of the Pomodoro technique right here.
Applications
Well, we have organized the tasks: scheduled, correctly described, prioritized them, and decided how to execute them. What else can help us? Technological progress, of course! Smart applications can take some of the routine tasks off of you. We have selected several applications that can help you in your daily life and can keep all your tasks in order.
Personal productivity apps
For task planning
SingularutyApp can help you with this. This is the most powerful application that can help you keep all your things in order even if you had no experience with planners before.

You can immediately distribute all your tasks by projects assigning each one a deadline and priority. Or you can upload them in bulk to the Inbox folder and arrange them later. And by the way, Singularity has a Pomodoro timer to help complete your tasks more efficiently.

The application supports synchronization with Google calendar and creating tasks via email. All tasks can be organized by project: for example, "Household chores", "Work", "Writing a book", "Shopping lists", etc. You can add an infinite number of subtasks to each task, insert checklists, write tags, and add a priority.

There is also a special section for non-urgent and unimportant tasks which is called "Someday". And just so the list of tasks does not turn into chaos, use the "Check" mode once a month to get rid of irrelevant tasks.

Price: the basic version is free; PRO allows you to add tasks from mail, print a plan for the day, and synchronize it with all devices — $ 2.99/month, $ 29.99 per year.
For business tasks
Trello can help you keep your work stuff in order. Planning with a Kanban board can help you get a glimpse on the planned and ongoing tasks. You can organize the board not only according to this principle, but also, for example, according to projects or areas of your work activity.

In Trello, you can add your team and mark the responsible participants in each task. Also, the scheduler supports file attachments, sharing, tags, and assigning deadlines.

Price: the basic version is free; paid plans with additional options for organizing space and unlimited storage — from $ 10 per month.
To track productivity
To track productivity, we have chosen the RescueTime application — it tracks statistics of your work at the computer. RescueTime can show you how much time you've spent on work and on social media, and you can see visual statistics. Using the app, you can set daily goals for work and see whether you have achieved your goals. The app will also remind you of scheduled appointments and other events if you sync it with your Google calendar.

RescueTime can help you determine which online resources are wasting your precious time. Sometimes it seems like you have spent only 5 minutes on your Instagram feed, but in fact, it's been 2 hours.

The application can be customized for you. For example, if you are an SMM manager, then hanging out on social media is not a waste of time; it's your work. You can also mark distractions in the application — websites, mail, instant messengers — and block them.

Price: the basic plan is free. Premium plan with additional features is $ 6.5.
To develop good habits
"I should stop watching TV, start running in the morning, drink 2 liters of water a day …". How many other good habits have you planned and failed to develop? The Habit List app can help you incorporate good habits into your daily routine.

Add all healthy activities to your schedule in the application and track your success. The habits will be grouped by color. Green means the activity should be done today, red means you need to be more productive, gray indicates optional tasks.

You can track your success weekly and monthly — how close you are to your goal.

Price: the basic plan is free. Premium plan with additional features is $ 4.99 per month.
To automate tasks
Our find is the Workflow application. In the AppStore it is called "Teams". It is a unique tool for automating routine tasks. With it, you can create scenarios for various processes that you perform from your phone. Examples of such scenarios are:

• After making a screenshot of the page from the browser, save it as PDF.
• When creating a series of photos, combine them into GIFs.
• Determine how long it will take to visit all the places planned for today.
• Remind of the planned meditation and inform when it is time to stop.
• When you open the map in the morning, automatically show coffee shops near you.
• When the calendar opens, show a list of free dates you can make appointments on.

In general, Workflow can be called a small business manager for routine tasks. It is important to take some time to arrange the processes. But you will be surprised how many precious minutes will be saved later.

Price: free.
For exercising
You probably know that physical activity increases personal productivity. After a good workout, your mood improves and you become stronger. If you are too busy to go to the gym, the Seven application will help you.

It’s a mobile trainer on your phone. The app offers a set of short 7-minute high intensity workouts. You can choose a workout for the whole body or for specific muscles. Configure the number of repetitions for each workout and the voice of the instructor who will give tips on the exercises. In the paid version, you can choose the types of workouts: for weight loss, for keeping fit, for increasing endurance, etc.

The app has a motivation system: for example, you get "hearts" for each workout, and medals for regularity. You can also view statistics and track your progress.

Price: Basic version is free. Additional workouts start from 349 rubles.
For motivation
You cannot but agree that nothing is more stimulating than cool goals and the desire to achieve them. The Dreaminizer app allows you to visualize your material dreams and plan steps for the purchase. Everything is simple here: you choose a picture, write down the price of your dream and mark the stages for the goal achievement. On the way to the coveted purchase, you cross out steps and track your progress.

You can limit time for your goals, and at the end of each period, you can evaluate your progress. We believe this visualization works very cool and allows you to clearly assess your capabilities.
And finally
Personal productivity is really the right skill to invest in. Which methods you will use depends on your lifestyle and the nature of the tasks. But in any case, the tools mentioned in the article will help you be more productive. And do not forget about your faithful assistants — applications that automate your routine processes. To-do lists, daily routine, reminders — all this can be entrusted to applications which will free up your time for more important things.