The end of the school year is so busy. Now is the time to get organized. In this blog post, I’ll give you my 1-2-3 steps to stress less and 5 productivity hacks. Many of them involve Post-it® Brand Products. I use them all the time, from storyboarding, to drafting articles, to accenting my DIY planner.
So, as part of my work with Post-it® Brand, I’ve been asked to design a 21-day challenge to boost productivity. As a teacher, I’ve picked 3 simple things that I know will boost productivity (and my mood) and I’m going to do this for 21 days. I also watched the four videos from the Post-it® Brand productivity experts including chef Russell Jackson, Teacher of the Year Sia Kyriakakos, fitness artist and spiritual wellness expert, Nicole Winhoffer and health business owner, Anna Young to use their productivity ideas and tips.
1 – One thing at a time
I keep my current “Big 1” task at the bottom left hand side of my monitor. This is my focal task. I do this at school and home. It helps me focus on just one thing at a time.
Multitasking is a myth. Focus is necessary to get anything done. To keep on track, I am committing to focus on ONE thing at a time. Just one.
To find out what kind of planner I am, I took a quiz using the Post-it® Brand Productivity Tool. In their research, they found that there are four types of planners. As a “Mindful Maverick” I learned that I need visual cues.
So, I write the current task on the bottom left-hand side of my computer monitor on Post-it® Super Sticky Notes. One task, one at a time.
I’ve used Post-it® Notes for years in this way. Seeing the results of the productivity quiz, I now know why I’m always happier when I write down my most important task and keep it front and center. As a teacher, I live in a rushed environment and seeing one task on my computer redirects my attention back to my main task.
According to a survey conducted by Post-it® Brand, more than 1 in 4 Americans feel completing everything on their weekly to-do list is harder than running a marathon.*
I think part of the problem is many of us put too much on our list. Another reason might be our lack of focus. Writing my current focal task on a Post-it® Note and keeping it on my computer monitor throughout the day helps me focus. Swapping it out for a new one gives me a sense of progress!
2 – Two kind notes a day
I’m inspired by the wall of kindness that was started with one kind Post-it® Note in the girls bathroom at Principal Will Parker’s school.
Part of my purpose as a teacher is to spread kindness and positivity to my students and colleagues.
I was so inspired by what happened at Principal Will Parker’s school this year. One of his students posted a kind Post-it® Note in the girls bathroom. As other students joined in, it grew into hundreds of Post-it® Notes with kind messages. Kindness went viral!
“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” -Scott Adams
So, I’ve committed to write two kind Post-it® Notes a day and stick them somewhere in the school to encourage others to make others smile and encourage them to do the same. The teacher’s lounge. My room. The bathroom mirror. Yes, I’m doing this!
There have been times I’ve wanted to encourage a colleague. I’d buy their favorite cola or snack and leave it on their desk with a quick anonymous Post-it® Note. It really does encourage people.
3 – Three most important things
In my planner, I keep my “big 3” on Post-it® Super Sticky Notes to make sure they get done. I use the same system for home and work – 3 in each place!
Don’t confuse quality with quantity. Yes, my master list has many things on it. (See below for how I brain dump my list to organize it.)
However, this time of year, I just have so much to do that I list my three most important things. No matter what else gets done, these are a must.
I’ll admit. I have three things for home and three things for school.
The research commissioned by Post-it® Brand found that 61% of Americans believe they would be more productive if they used the same organizational system at home that they do at work.* As a busy teacherpreneur, I work hard to have a flexible but VISUAL system that works for me in both places.
In Summary. The 21-Day Challenge I’m taking is:
1 – I will do one thing at a time
2 – I will leave two kind Post-it® Notes a day to others
3 – I will list three things each day that I have to do at home and at school.
5 Productivity Hacks and Tips to Help Get Organized
So, now on to some tips/ hacks that I’m using for the organizational system that I use. Note that I’m in the DIY-planning family. (I released a book on it last summer.) DIY means that I make my own planners.
1- Do a Brain Dump
As I worked on my DIY Planning system for the end of school, I got everything out and on Post-it® Notes. Also, I color coded my thoughts, as this helped me figure out the categories for the back of my planner and the unique ways I’m going to use my planner this month.
When I brainstorm, I take each idea and put it on one note and put it on my desk. (see the picture) I like to color code by topic or idea for patterns to emerge. (I do this when outlining the books I write too.)
The productivity quiz from Post-it® Brand I took earlier says that I need to keep my mind clear by doing a brain dump of all the items on my list. I also need to make sure my to-do items are showing on my calendar. Finally, I need to focus on one thing at a time. This fits with what I already know about myself.
So, as I was working on my planning system for the last two months of school, I put all of the ideas and issues with my planner onto individual notes (pictured to the right.) Then, as I worked on my planner, I used the ideas to make sure my end of school system will support what I need to make it through the end of the school year.
Declutter your mind by doing a brain dump of all that you have to do. Just use Post-it® Notes to make it easy.
2 – Customize Your System Based on Your Location
My home “brain dump” of work for the week is on a top door of my desk. I don’t share my desk at home, so I can do this. At school, I use a brain dump page in the back of my planner for the notes. That way, I can close it and it is private. I don’t want students (who often sit at my desk) playing with or bothering my personal task list.
At home, I brain dump my list on Post-it® Super-Sticky Notes. I have a door on the top of a cabinet that I can use to keep these. That way, I can grab what I’m working on and stick it on my computer monitor.
At school, however, I use a page in my planner designated for “brain dumps.” That is because students sometimes sit at my desk to scan pictures or use my computer and I don’t want them bothering my notes or reading them.
So, as a school teacher, some things need to be adapted to home and school.
Intentionally think about organizing your home and work. You’ll need slightly different systems for both.
3 – Know Your Style
As a “Mindful Maverick,” I’m a visual person. Out of sight, out of mind.
That is why, although I’ve used the Reminders app on my phone some, I have to get it on paper on ONE list. But before I write it down, if I do my brain dump on Post-it® Notes, then I can organize it.
Knowing your style of organizing will help you select the best tools for you. Each person is unique. Each person remembers in a different way. For this reason, I believe that everyone’s system of planning is truly do it yourself.
Do it yourself. Customize. Use colors. Decide what works for you.
4 – Quickly Access Notes
I organize my frequently used items in the back of my planner using Post-it® Tabs. I can move the tabs around or from page to page and color code them as well.
My goal is to be able to access anything within three seconds. Why? Well, my frustration kicks in if I can’t find it before. I admit – this time of year it is hard.
Use Post-it® Tabs to organize the back of your binder so you can put your hands on important items quickly.
5 – Make Things That Change Quickly Easy to Move Around
Also, I use a Kanban board approach which literally has me moving my Post-it® Super Sticky Notes around. (I got lots of ideas for this use from Sia Kyriakakos, 2016 Teacher of the Year for Baltimore City Schools, and art teacher from Maryland.)
When I have things that are fluid I will use smaller 3×3 Post-it® Notes. For example, with my podcast, sometimes events or things that happen cause me to move shows around. So, instead of using dry erase markers, I now use Post-it® Notes. They stick and re-stick so I can easily move them.
I write the guest name and then moving around the calendar as I see fit to determine who’s going to be up at different times.
I also use this method at school. This year, I’m teaching Digital Filmmaking. We have to plan our shooting schedule between two film crews. For the movie projects I’m working on, we write each shot on a Post-it® Note.
We list screenshots for our movie on Post-it® Notes. This makes it easy to grab a photo and go shoot.
Then, students can come in and grab a shot and go do it. Then, they put the shot on a board so the editors know the film is ready to edit.
For projects that are dynamic, you need to use Post-it® Super Sticky notes which will stick and re-stick.
I also hope that you will get organized for the end of the school year using some of these techniques of brainstorming organizing and just putting everything together.
And I challenge you to either take this 21-day productivity challenge or, create your own challenge. Share your own planner type and your goal progress on your social channels using #makeitstick.
This is a great time of year to focus on some simple productivity techniques that will give us peace of mind and help us make it to the end of the school year without being so exhausted and stressed. We can do this!
*The 3M Productivity Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 1,021 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18+, between March 30th and April 5th, 2017, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adult population 18 and older.
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