There are countless of options when it comes to productivity tools. In general, they can be categorized into digital tools (mobile and desktop apps) or "analogue" tools such as paper planners, wall calendars, and sticky notes.
Many believe in choosing one or the other (either going completely digital or strictly using paper tools), however, since there are specific advantages to using each tool, finding the right combination could be the ideal solution to this dilemma.
In combination with The Focus Journal. here is what we found works best depending on the task at hand:
I. Long term project management and Brainstorming
For planning out a long term project, we found that the most effective tool, at least for the initial stage is using sticky notes on a wall! Yes, good old sticky notes. Tasks or milestones can each be written on a separate sticky note and the sticky notes can be moved around and rearranged into a timeline until you are satisfied with your plan of action. After the timeline has been set, you may transfer those tasks onto your digital calendar or team project management tools (ie: Asana) to keep track of deadlines and assignments.
After this has been done, we recommend writing down your priorities for the day/week/month in your Focus Journal. This would allow you to focus on one task at a time and not get overwhelmed with the bigger project.
II. List Making
Making task lists in an on going thing and we found that digital list-making apps were not as effective as paper tools like The Focus Journal. The main reason being that these apps require you to sign into a separate platform by opening a new window or tab on your computer or an app on your phone, which is not practical when the list needs to be checked often and when there are tasks that need to be added continuously. Going into your phone or different window can also be distracting and breakdown your work flow.
Keeping your Focus Journal open on your desk throughout the day would allow you to easily glance at it every once in a while to make sure you're on track with your daily priorities. Getting into this habit will also give your eyes a much needed screen breaks!
III. Scheduling appointments:
For scheduling appointments and keeping track of events, we found that digital calendars work better than penciling appointments in and then having to erase them or use whiteout as things change. Your digital calendar would sync and integrate with other scheduling tools (ie: ticketing platforms), which would make events, travel plans, and video chats easy to schedule and reschedule digitally. Moreover, you can set up reminders and notifications and add notes and links to each event.
At the beginning of every day, we recommend taking a look at your digital calendar but also physically writing down all your appointments for the day into your Focus Journal. How many times did you forget about a meeting or call because you overlooked the notification? Writing your set meetings down in the morning in your Focus Journal will help you avoid this problem as the act of writing will make it stick and keep the event/appointment in the back of your brain.
While using both digital tools and paper tools may seem redundant, we believe that in most cases the redundancy will actually help with focus and making sure things get done.
Research has also proven countless times that hand writing has many benefits including retaining information and problem solving. It is also way more satisfying to check things off your To Do list with a pen!
Let us know what you think in the comments below or send us your tips at hello@TheFocusJournal.co