Tell me if this sounds familiar. Yesterday I woke up with a HUGE TO-DO list of things to accomplish, but by noon, I hadn’t done any of it. Instead, I had been bouncing around from trivial task to trivial task with things that seemed important at the time, but turned out to be pure busyness or procrastination. Today, I decided to stop that cycle by creating a system for daily accountability to productivity. I am so excited to share with you my free Productivity Planner Worksheet. Instead of reactively waiting to be productive, proactively plan to be productive.
If you haven’t already done so, download my free printable right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Not sure if you want to download it? Scroll down to the bottom of the post to watch a video on how to use it.DOWNLOAD NOW
Get the Free Productivity Planner Worksheet using the Pomodoro Technique
Good, now that you’ve done that, open up your inbox and see what you have waiting for you. What you have on your computer, fellow solopreneur, is a free Productivity Planner Worksheet. Magical, isn’t it? There are multiple ways to use it, but here is a short list of suggestions I have:
- iPad: Save it to your iPad and use an app such as PDF Expert to fill it out
- Computer: Save it to your computer and use Acrobat Reader to fill it out
- Laminate: Print it out and laminate it so you can write on it with dry erase marker (TIP: use a fine-tip marker)
- Print: Print out a week’s worth of sheets and put them in a binder or on a clip board and fill them out each day or fill out a few days or a week at a time
Using the Productivity Planner Worksheet
The idea is that each day you have work and personal tasks to accomplish. You have one task that is the most important task of the day.
The Most Important Task
How do you know if it’s the most important task? Ask yourself this question: if I get this task done and only this task, can I go to bed feeling good about myself? If you answered “yes”, then it is your most important task. If you answered “no”, then keep thinking of tasks until you hit a “yes”.
Secondary Important Tasks
The next box is the “Secondary Important Tasks”. These tasks are the ones that put the icing on the cake, but only after you’ve completed the most important task for the day.
Finally, you have the third box which holds additional tasks and are kind of like the third wheel. These tasks may be completely left out, but that’s okay, they’re used to getting kicked to the curb.
Only 5 Tasks a Day?
You may notice that the free Productivity Planner Worksheet only has space for 5 tasks. I know, this seems a little reductionistic. If you get all 5 tasks done, feel free to do other things as the need arises. I also find it helpful not to put tasks on there like “email” because I check that throughout the day and it’s not something I really need to focus on. For work projects, I’ll often put in just the name of the project and not the sub tasks I have to accomplish. I use Insightly to manage all my projects so during that chunk of time, I’ll simply go to my task list in Insightly and start knocking things off my list. You can put as much or little detail as you want – make this worksheet your own!
The Pomodoro Technique – Say What?
Now that you know all about the tasks, how do you go about using all those fun bubbles and squares? Each bubble represents 25 minutes of time which is based off the Pomodoro Technique used for time management.
What’s with the 25 minute bubbles?
Well, young grasshopper, experts who research this kind of stuff say that a person is most productive for 25 minute chunks. After 25 minutes of focused work (notice the word “focused” which means “don’t get out of your chair and chase your kids around and then answer the phone and check email all while trying to fix lunch”), you’re ready to take a 5 minute break. During that break check off a bubble, stretch, grab a glass of water and then get back to your next 25 minute chunk of focused time. I keep track of my 25 minute chunks by saying “Hey, Siri, set timer for 25 minutes” and she says “What would you do without me?” We have a great working relationship. As a busy mother and solopreneur, I often don’t have long chunks of time to work. Therefore, I love that I only have to commit to 25 minutes at a time instead of 3 hours so I can come back to the task later.
What’s with the squares?
In the “Target” box, you put how many bubbles you anticipate that task will consume. So if a task may take just under an hour to complete, put a “2” in that box for 2 bubbles. The “Actual” box is filled out after the task is complete and you see how many bubbles you actually checked off. This is so you can keep track of how far off base you were guessing how much time something might take so you can make corrections in coming days. It also shows you just how much less or more productive you were than you thought you might be.
Work Hours, Appointments, Notes, Oh My!
The remaining sections of this worksheet are for you to fill out as needed. If you have any appointments for the day, put them at the top of the sheet so you remember to subtract that time away from the time you have for the focused tasks below. I also find it helpful to put my actual work hours at the top of the sheet as well so I can stick to a plan for the work day. Otherwise, I’m trying to make dinner, answer emails, fix a website and play with my kids at 6p which isn’t good work / life balance nor is it productive. Use the notes section at the top for anything you want to remember throughout the day.
At the bottom of the sheet, answer the question “did I follow my plan?” honestly and then use it as motivation for tomorrow. The productivity score is for you to measure how productive you felt to keep you motivated so you can see productivity progress. Use the notes section at the bottom as a recap of your day for your future self.
Can you just show me how to use it?
Sure can! Watch the following video to see how I use my worksheet every day to prioritize tasks for my day.
Table of contents:
- 00:02 – Introduction
- 00:19 – Downloading the Productivity Planner
- 01:05 – Organizing File Structure
- 03:02 – Using with Acrobat Reader
- 09:27 – Organizing File Structure
- 10:12 – Printing Productivity Planner Worksheet
- 10:57 – Conclusion
Did this work for you?
I’d love to hear if this worksheet worked for you. Please let me know via the comments section below and share on your favorite social media site!