5 Very Specific Ways We Get Things Done

There are great ideas published every day on how to be more productive. Some look at how the super-productive few do it, some find productivity hacks in scientific findings, while others focus on increasing employees’ productivity. If you need inspiration, they’re a great place to start. But when it’s time to actually make it happen, you may find yourself wondering exactly which habits to form or how to get through your now-prioritized to-do list.

Like Cecilia, I’ve found that things happen quickly here in the Everlaw office. For example, when we found out about our Recorder award, someone said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we had cupcakes to celebrate?’ and the next morning, there they were. (Thanks Cecilia!) And when I interviewed the developer of our new reviewer QA feature, he said that the entire process—from picking up the project through its development and launch—took only 5 weeks!

So, I wondered, how does the team here get things done? Here’s how they stay productive:

1) Stop Working!

I use the 40/20 method: Work for 40 minutes with no distractions (email, conversations, web surfing). After exactly 40 minutes, stop whatever you’re doing and do something else (read, walk, eat, discuss) for 20 minutes. Repeat.

Surprising results:

1. You are insanely productive. Two-thirds efficiency is really good when you have a deadline every hour!

2. Because of the abrupt interruption at 40 minutes, you are eager to get back to work after your 20 minute break.

3. The 20 minutes feels healthy.


Listening to Music

2) Turn It Up!

I put on headphones and listen to music with no lyrics. Anything from classical to dubstep will do, as long as no one is talking or singing.

Brandon, Lead Software Engineer

3) Stop the Buzzing!

I put my iPhone into ‘Do Not Disturb Mode.’

Kat, Product Designer

4) Chop It Up!Making a To-Do List

I split up tasks into manageable chunks.

Daniel, Software Engineer

5) Get in the Flow!

I use a Kanban board! I have my to-do list split across 5 columns: Backlog, This Week, Today, Current Task, and Done. The flow is:

  1. I add new tasks to the Backlog (unless urgent), and include a priority level and time estimate to help me order them.
  2. At the beginning of each week, I move tasks out of my Backlog and into This Week.
  3. At the beginning of each day, I move tasks out of This Week and into Today.
  4. When I start a task, I move it out of Today and into Current Task. Then I block out the rest of the world while I focus on just that one task.
  5. When the task is done, I move it out of Current Task and into Done, then find another task to do!

Result: It keeps me focused and prevents anything from dropping through the cracks.

Jon, VP of Business Development

Do you have any practical tips of your own for staying productive?