Power Productivity With A Simple Checklist

I have tasks that must get done every day. We all do. I don’t want to keep these items in my head or clutter my calendar and other to-do lists. So I keep a simple checklist in my Evernote workspace to track my workout, meditation, check email, social media and phone messages and other recurring, daily tasks. Here’s a screen shot of my day plan in my Evernote workspace:

Day plan drives productivity

An effective day plan has these essential elements:

  1. A checklist for recurring daily activities – I keep my day plan in my Evernote Checklist notebook. I add a check box for each activity in the list. There’s a feeling of accomplishment in marking something completed.
  2. Not for one-time projects, next steps or calendar events – Projects have two or more steps. Next steps support projects or can be single step actions. Calendar events are date/time specific, reminders or decision prompts. None of these belong in the day plan.
  3. Open this checklist at the start of every day – I power-on my computer and search for my day plan note in Evernote. I change the date to today and clear all the check boxes marked yesterday. Then, starting at the top of the list with my workout, I do tasks and check them off throughout the day. I access my day plan on my mobile devices too. It’s perfectly synced with Evernote.
  4. Do work in 52/17 minute intervals for maximum productivity. I follow the practice I learned from a post by The Muse, The Rule of 52 and 17: It’s Random, But it Ups Your Productivity. A study by DeskTime found the most productive people worked for 52 minutes and took a 17 minute break. The reason for the amped performance is because they treat the work interval like a sprint and disengage with an unrelated activity during the break. The break should be free from the digital world if you work with technology during the day. Get up, take a walk, do air squats, organize your workspace, chat with a co-worker, make an easy phone call or eat a snack. All of these will power your performance during the next work interval.
  5. Know your energy, creativity and intelligence cycles. What’s your peak and off-peak time? You need to know when you’re in the flow and ebb cycles of your day. The best way to figure this out is to simply watch your energy, creativity and brainpower during the day. Keep a simple log in a notebook or Evernote. A flow cycle has high energy, creativity and brainpower. An ebb cycle has low energy, creativity and brainpower. Do your highest value-added work during your flow cycles. I do my best work between 10 am and 2pm. Then again between 4-8 pm, Although I usually knock off of work by 6 pm.

Keep your day on track and your calendar uncluttered with a day plan. Checklists are powerful tools to drive productivity every day.

How do you track recurring daily tasks?

Michael Shelton helps busy professionals get their life's work done as a productivity consultant and the owner of Shelton Business Services, LLC in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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