Personal Productivity Skills

See also: Setting Personal Goals

Life is busy. For most of us, balancing personal and professional duties can be overwhelming. We are constantly reminded of overdue assignments or appointments that may be critical.

Most simply scramble to finish projects or attend meetings without truly addressing the core issues. We may acknowledge we need better time management skills but do little to fully address our issues. Productivity happens when we manage our time well and plan to accomplish tasks proactively.

Knowing how to be focused is also important. What good is carving out time to accomplish things if you routinely allow yourself to be distracted?

Time management is one of those personal skills that nobody teaches you but are truly important in life. Though it can be difficult to learn some skills as an adult, there are huge benefits to good time management and learning how to be productive when you’re focusing on the task (or tasks) at hand.

Why is decomposition of a task so important?

Decomposing tasks helps you plan a course of action so you can accomplish anything. Without proper planning skills, you’ll simply be doing a lot of small tasks without a proper understanding of how those tasks actually serve a greater good or affect larger projects.

When you decompose a task, it also allows you to develop a reliable timeline for finishing the task. You see the full picture and can properly examine what needs to be done, and when – and why. You’ll see what tasks affect other to-do items, and how to finish the project on-time and with minimal disruptions.

How to decompose a task

After creating a task, the next logical step is to create sub-tasks; smaller tasks that all contribute to the completion of a larger task. One task with sub-tasks we all create is a grocery list. If you go grocery shopping without a list, chances are you end up getting a lot of things you don’t need and forgetting a few key items that you really need.

Moreover, you may buy items at the grocery store that you meant to get elsewhere.

Apps such as TaskHeat provide clever and intuitive ways to manage all your tasks and sub-tasks. This particular app allows you to create a flow chart or list view for your tasks and sub-tasks so you get the visualization that makes the most impact for you.

These apps may even allow you to create dependencies and relationships between tasks. You will know if a task has to be completed before another can begin, or how the two affect each other. Each task or sub-task can be color coded and assigned notes so you or your team fully understand the task at hand (literally!).

If you’re working on a team, tasks can be delegated. Apps such as TaskHeat even allow for location-based reminders, which are handy for personal or professional use.

TaskHeat screenshot.

Why is focus on a task so important?

To many, blocking time to focus on a task or series of tasks seems like the wrong option. We tend to want to be open to emergent situations that might require immediate attention.

Be honest, though: how often is that really happening in your life? Whether work or at home, most don’t have scenarios wherein distracting would literally be devastating. We’re convincing ourselves emergencies will arise, but by and large that’s just not the case.

Learning how to focus is ultimately the same as learning how not to be distracted. With the mindset emergencies may happen, we end up looking for things to distract us. You message others, catch the news on TV, or read through your Twitter timeline. It’s all a version of distraction we’re allowing in our lives.

And that distraction can lead to a loss of productivity.



How to stay focused on task

Setting aside time to complete tasks is critical, and most don’t do it. We may start down a to-do list, but how often are we completing the work completely, if at all?

Apps such as Be Focused, a simple, effective Mac app, live in your menu bar and act as a simple to-do list that keeps track of how long you’re spending on each task. You’ll be able to set time aside for tasks, and schedule breaks so you don’t get too bogged down with work, studying, or personal items.

These apps can help you manage your time one of two ways: you can simply time how long you work on things or set firm timers and focus on what needs to be done in the time you’ve allowed yourself to work on it. For those who want to use Be Focused on tasks across business and personal use, you can tag items and filter your to-do list by topics like studying, personal, and work. This is the best option for those times you have a few hours to accomplish personal items and want to filter a large to-do list so you can see what personal tasks need to be accomplished.

These apps can even track your metrics, so you know how many tasks you complete in the month or quarter, and how long you spend focusing on all your personal and professional work.

TaskHeat New Task - Screenshot

Conclusion

Being focused and staying productive are critical for personal and professional reasons. You want to drive results at work and stay on top of life’s little tasks at home.

Apps like Be Focused and Taskheat can help. In the digital-first world we live in, apps can serve as the foundation for managing time and being more productive. Though tons of apps are meant to waste your time, there are still a lot of great productivity apps that will keep you on-task and doing great things.

Be sure to give several apps a shot to ensure they meet your needs. Consider the devices you use and if the apps, platforms, or services you’re trying work for your workflow, too. You might be happy managing or tracking time on your phone and using your computer strictly for work purposes, for instance.

Managing the time you spend working on tasks is not just about logging the hours spent doing things, though. You want to make sure you are focusing on accomplishing important things and being productive – which is why limiting distractions is so critical. Whether you’re just getting started with your efforts to be more productive or just need new tools for a refreshed workflow, a great suite of apps may become the new driving force that helps you do more.



The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development

Further Reading from Skills You Need


The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development

Learn how to set yourself effective personal goals and find the motivation you need to achieve them. This is the essence of personal development, a set of skills designed to help you reach your full potential, at work, in study and in your personal life.

The second edition of or bestselling eBook is ideal for anyone who wants to improve their skills and learning potential, and it is full of easy-to-follow, practical information.


About the Author


I'm Natalia Blyzniuk, the Affiliate Manager at MacPaw. Starting my career in affiliate marketing I have faced a time management challenge. I had a lot of small tasks and requests as well as huge long-term projects. I was looking for different ways to solve this problem and finally found the best one for me.

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