Change the way you work with the pomodoro technique and our useful tips

Posted by Louisa Du Toit

Find the time to do the things you love when you maximise your productivity with our handy productivity tips and methods.

The ‘traditional’ 9 to 5 approach may be something of the past to many people, and making your work-life balance work may seem impossible some days. While there isn’t an exact one-size-fits-all approach to getting the most out of your workday, we have some great productivity tips and tricks to help you breeze through your day AND getting to do the things you love.

Equip yourself with the best tools and techniques to manage your time and get the most out of your day.

Our top tip? Make the time to plan your day.

Whether you do this as your day winds down, and you plan your next day, or you plan out your day first thing in the morning, find the best time for you, and write down what’s happening work-wise, and how you can tackle it. This way, you can exercise some control over your workday and how it will play out.

Then, prioritise your Most Important Tasks (or MITs, fancy)

Mark Twain once said, "If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first." 

While eating a frog might seem daunting to most people, he had a good point. Maybe tackle the most daunting or biggest task first thing in the morning to set yourself up for success and sail through the rest of the day. Not a fan of tackling the big task first? Sweat through the small stuff first to curb the niggling anxiety, then move onto the rest and achieve bliss.

It’s all up to you.

Do you find that the small stuff makes you sweat?

How about grouping smaller, similar tasks together instead of jumping around between tasks? If you have work that is related or need the same mind space, try grouping them and doing them in batches.

When you do this, your brain isn’t continually switching gears and you can, indeed, get more done, improving your productivity. For example, set up email response times during the day (and stick to them).

Reaching inbox zero may be nirvana to some. But according to Campaign onitor, “experts generally agree that 121 business emails are sent and received each day” (and that was before 2019!). So, in reality, inbox zero may be a pipe dream for many business people out there.

We recommend setting up a triage system in your inbox and then setting up specific times during the day where you actively check and respond to your emails.

Here’s how a triage system could play out:

  • Critical emails - emails that require quick response or actions (you may normally expect these based on projects).
  • Urgent emails - emails that require response or actions on the same day.
    Important emails - emails that require a response or actions in the same workday.
  • Normal emails - emails that warrant a response in a workday.
  • Team emails - emails that warrant a response in 24 hours.
  • The rest - marketing emails, notifications and the rest of the emails that you can respond to when you have time.

Filter your emails according to your triage system when it is time to check in on your mails and prioritise your responses.

You can also manage email response time expectations with an appropriate away message when you are not available for prolonged amounts of time (like when you’re sitting in that strategy session). For example, ask people to contact you via phone or text when a matter is urgent, else respond as soon as you’re back!

While our next tip seems very obvious, it is one that many people feel isn’t needed. But you need to take breaks.

There are many apps and methodologies out there that can help you manage your time and break more often, you may feel like you do not have the luxury of taking a break. Fear not! Not only to frequent breaks help you keep your mental, emotional and physical health at peak levels, you’ll find that you also are more productive.

Here are our favourite time management techniques:

The Pomodoro technique: focus for 25 minutes, break for five
The 52/17 rule: focus for 52 minutes, and break for 17

These methodologies will help you to set your focus time and break time and perform more optimally. To help you stick to these, there are a variety of apps and plugins available to help you form your new productivity habit.

While managing your time and productivity is important, we do strongly recommend looking after yourself. Have you thought about creating some buffer time between meetings?

While you may feel most productive and wanted in back-to-back meetings, your brain wasn’t built for that. You need time between meetings to decompress, gather your thoughts, file some thoughts and mentally (and physically) prepare for your next meeting.

Buffer time can also help you be on-time for your next meeting if the other runs late. Remember, without that break, it’s more difficult to stay focused and motivated throughout the day. Think about it, do you need five minutes or maybe 10 between meetings to capture meeting notes, grab a beverage or have a bathroom break?

While you’re thinking about that buffer time, how about using that time to just breathe?

Filling your day to the brim with tasks and meetings may seem like the best use for your time, right? Wrong. When you take the time to plan your day, also schedule in some buffer time. 

We know about the Pareto Principle as
“80% of results come from 20% of the effort put in”. This is commonly used in sales as 80% of sales typically come from 20% of the customers. But at Spitfire, we like to turn this around a bit.

We believe that you need to leave some breathing room in your day. Whether it is finding inspiration for a new campaign, meditation, going for a walk, or just decompressing. You can even use this time to dazzle clients with an urgent task! How about booking a lunch break, AND sticking to it?

"To do two things at once is to do neither." - Publilius Syrus

While we may feel like masters of the universe when multitasking, the human brain isn’t wired for that. Which is why we recommend approaching each task mindfully. Be present and do the task at hand to the best of your ability, without quickly checking your emails, or Facebook or Instagram, or answering that text. As a result, you’re making considered decisions and add more value while completing the task at hand. That’s a win in our books.

Have you seen a technique or two that you’d like to try to increase your productivity? Remember that it takes 21 days to form a habit, and 90 days to make it a permanent lifestyle change. While you may not see immediate results when trying our productivity tips, you will be benefiting yourself in the long run and soon become a time management master.

If you found this article helpful, why not subscribe to our blog? This blog is also included in our guide: Navigating Productivity, download your copy now. Plus try our Marketing Calendar to help you start planning your marketing year. For more useful resources, visit our resources page.

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