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The Simplest Productivity System

Photo by Simon Pais (Used with permission)
Editor’s Note

This is a compensated review for BlogHer and Intel.

For the past few months, I’ve been catching myself constantly mumbling “I’m busy”. And it’s true. I’m a mom, I operate this lovely personal happiness blog called Think Simple Now, and I run a weddin photography business. All of that mixed in one bowl can be a messy combination if not stirred correctly.

In this article, I will detail some simple productivity tips I use in my busy life that seem to work well for me. It’s so simple, you’ll likely think, “That’s it?” to which I’ll respond with, “You came to Think Simple Now, not Think Complicated Now.”

The System:

I’m not a huge GTD fan, I’m sure it’s lovely, and I have friends who swear by it. I’ve tried it and it didn’t work for me – I found it to be slightly complicated, handling that many folders.

I use a very simple system. What can I say, I’m a simpleton – if there are too many steps, I simply won’t follow through.

This isn’t just for online tasks, but for all offline tasks, like organizing your home, or finishing a beloved project.

  • Capture to-do’s. Get it out of your head and in a system: paper or text file.
  • Pick 3 MITs (Most Important Things) each morning and focus on doing them first. Get them done before anything else.
  • Do one thing at a time – put all focus on the doing of the thing while you’re doing it.
  • Don’t check email first thing in the morning or last thing at night.

The end.

See? Simple.

Just the “do one thing at a time” tip is enough to boost your productivity. Most of us get distracted by the little stuff that calls our attention, and we end up doing several things at the same time. A few hours will pass, and we wondered what we’ve accomplished, “Um, I’ve surfed Facebook for an hour. But my real work didn’t get done.” (happens all the time).

The other hindrance to being productive is that we get distracted by the many small tasks that seem urgent but isn’t important. We end up being busy doing things that are not so important, and at the end of the day, the important stuff we actually needed to get done isn’t.

I love the MIT (Most Important Things) concept. At my house, you’ll find random sheets of paper stuffed in various corners with the scribble MIT on top; along with 3 or more lines of tasks crossed out. I keep them, well, (besides being a hoarder) I keep them because I’m proud of them. They make me feel productive. Like that sense of satisfaction you felt when you cross an item off your to-do list.

Be careful not to put more than 3 things on your MIT list, if you have to, put anything more than the 3rd item in an area called “Bonus”, so if you don’t get to them, you won’t be kicking yourself over it. And if you do get to them, you’ll feel like a rock-star.

One thing I want to add that’ll boost your productivity is to spend some time everyday to close your eyes in silences, focusing on your breath, allowing thoughts to pass, and keep refocusing back on your breath when your mind wanders.

Some call it meditation – it’s just a label, nothing fancy, no tools or skills needed. You can call it clearing your mind, just sitting or simply breathing. Even if you can do it for two minutes a day, it’ll be helpful. Start with 2 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 10 minutes.

This is a short slot of time for yourself, a chance for you to regroup, to clear your mind, to sharpen your focus.

My most productive period of life, was when I used to sit for 30 minutes twice a day. I had laser like sharpness and focus, things got done without distraction, I was happier, I had utter mental clarity and heightened intuition (hmmm, that sounds nice. Perhaps that’ll be my new goal for the next few months to adopt into my new life – maybe we can do it together?).

Got any simple productivity tips that have worked well for you? Share with us in the comment section!

On a side note, BlogHer just sent me a new computer powered by the Intel® Core™ i5 processor, with Turbo Boost Technology, supposedly allowing you to “Get more done in less time” – We shall see. I’ll report back next week.

Hang on, before you go, take a second to enter in my gift card giveaway …

$250 Gift Card Giveaway

Are you still here? Okay, good.

We have a $250 Best Buy gift card to giveaway (WHOA!!!) to one of you smart and lucky readers, sponsored by BlogHer and Intel.

To enter in the $250 gift card giveaway, tell us what do you spend most of your time doing on the computer? in the comment section.

You can cast 2 entries in this post , AND 2 entries in the post next week to increase your chances.

Alternatively to voting, you can enter into the sweepstake by doing any of the following (official rules for alternate form of entry):

  1. Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment below.
  2. Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment below.

Cool? Now, tell me, what do you mostly use your computer for? Share with us in the comment section, and get a chance to win a $250 gift card!

No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) Read the official rules for alternate form of entry.

Sweepstakes ends 5 PM PST on December 22, 2010.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older.
Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail.
You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.

P.S Check out the round-up page to enter into the sweepstakes to win 1 in 4 laptops, plus see other sites with contests.

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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288 thoughts on The Simplest Productivity System

  1. Hi Tina!
    I LOVE this post! Congratulations on your new computer!! How exciting!!

    I would use this computer to read YOUR blog, read blogher, talk about my new computer on twitter, watch movies and videos on youtube with my family!

    Who doesn’t want to win a $250 gift card a couple of days before Christmas! I do!! I wrote about this giveaway on my site at, posted it on twitter (I RT’d your tweet and did a reply too!) @synolve, posted it on facebook (my post and your post on my profile page) http://facebook/synolve.craft. And I’m posting my blog post with hyperlinks to your review on Blogher (synolve).

    Guess that’s about it! Oh! YeAH! SURE HOPE I WIN!!!! (shouting with excitement and joy!)

    Happy Holidays!

  2. I use my home PC for Facebook and reading eco-blogs (like I do a little email but not much.

  3. Min

    Most of the time I’m just surfing the web.

  4. Kayce Crews

    I spend a lot of time reading articles and blogs.

  5. carol y l

    I talk to my daughter, check my emails usually, and research things.

  6. I use the PC for work, pleasure, banking, blogging, chatting, pretty well everything!

  7. Eva Zamudio

    I like to organize my to-do list and my appointments and commitments in Google calendar

  8. Eva Zamudio

    I love your blog so I could say, I spend a good time reading your articles.

    Thanks for the great words!!! =)

  9. Christina

    Web surfing mostly.

  10. Shannon

    I visit various websites and email mostly, sometimes I play a game

  11. Jessica

    I use my computer for emailing and social networking

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