There are thousands (if not millions) of pieces of advice on the internet about being more productive. We all know that we want to get the most out of each day, excel in our work, and find enough balance to enjoy our down-time, but with so much advice out there it's easy to fall into the trap of "learning to be productive" and never actually doing the important work necessary to actually make an impact.
This week, we chatted with some of the Craft team and community to discover what productivity advice has made the biggest impact on their work. With combined experiences working at Skyscanner, 1Password, award-winning agencies, and Craft, we wanted to see what productivity habits/routines have fueled high-performing teams.
Daniel Duke, Craft’s Head of Content, likes to use a technique that he calls Productive Procrastination.
"If I have a list of tasks that I need to achieve in a given day or week, and I'm struggling to focus on one, I give myself permission to move on to another productive task. That way, I work through everything without feeling like I'm working against myself."
Daniel also uses this same philosophy by combining deep work and smaller administrative tasks. He says “You can 'take a break' from the deep work by picking up some smaller, bite-size chunks of work. This has the added benefit of the extra dopamine hit of checking things off your task list even when taking a break from the big stuff.”
Know your work modes
Similar advice came from Dave Meier, founder of an award-winning web agency, and a member of the Craft community. He has built a framework of his own which breaks down work into 4 modes: Park, Off-road, Sports, and Eco:
Park: Where you can reset your mental state and recharge. In this mode, you can do tasks that help you relax such as walking the dog, exercising, watching a movie, or spending time with family.
Off-road: This mode is where you give yourself permission to explore without having to worry about deliverables and deadlines. If we're always focused on deliverables, we never give ourselves the space to try new things, make mistakes, or innovate.
Sports: Here you make the most of your existing skills and knowledge and put them towards clear, tangible outcomes. It's high-focused, high-energy, uninterrupted work. Due to its intensity, it should only be done in 30-60 minute sessions and you should aim for 2-4 of these per day.
Eco: Keeping the car metaphor, eco tasks are those that can be performed on cruise control. That is: things that don't require high cognitive effort, those where you can even deal with interruptions without losing your rhythm.
Dave’s Focus Drivers Framework is a model that lets you plan your day more realistically, taking into account how important your natural energy levels.
It's never perfect - just start.
Dave Pier, Head of Product at Craft, told us that his biggest productivity tip is simply to get started! He said: "Starting is always the hardest part and often becomes the main obstacle stopping us from making progress at all. So it's vital to simply get started even if it's not perfect right away." Dave gives the example of creating an important document such as a client proposal or pitch document: “Don't second guess what needs to be in the document, just start writing. It's only through action alone that you'll be able to uncover what you didn't know you didn't know.”
Productive habits lead to productive days
Volodymyr from the Craft community uses Craft to track his most important daily habits which he does morning and evening. He says "I take some time each evening to plan the following day; this means that when I wake up I don't need to think about what to do next. For me, fewer decisions equals more energy."
He's built three different templates that he uses depending on the day and uses the checklist to ensure his consistent with daily habits and to monitor any activities he's given less attention to.
Keep track of your own productive habits with his Habit Tracker template.
Other productive habits
Abner Cruz, from our customer support team, told us that the Pomodoro Technique has had a big impact on his workday by giving him periods of focus followed by deliberate, scheduled breaks. “For me, it never really clicked until I started using the Forest app; the gamification element helped me to make the Pomorodo technique a habit.”
Discover how a community member uses Craft to share Pomodoro playlists with the world.
Tom Norman, responsible for community and content at Craft, recently started taking a 15-minute walk first thing in the morning. This little burst of exercise first thing in the morning gets the blood flowing, helps you wake naturally, and gets you outside first thing in the morning.