3 essential tools for productivity

Stephen Smith — №1 with David Allen


First, my workspace in my home office. This is where I manage all of my activities for the blogging enterprise as well as my day job for BigCorp.

This is a very simple and effective set-up.

Everything that I need on a daily basis is available close by. You may also notice that I have arranged the desk according to the “F-shape” principle that I featured in the design of my planner pages.

From the top left across I have placed:

From the bottom left:

To the right of the desk:

The Tickler File

This tool consists of 43 Folders numbered 1-31 for the current month and 12 more for the months of January through December.

I use these files for paper items that I need to process at specific times but the items do not need to go in my organizer right now. In the same file are the Reference folders for frequently-accessed information such as billing records, work records, etc.

The typical workflow for the Tickler file is:

  1. Each morning, while the coffee is brewing, I check the contents of “today’s” folder.

  2. I sync any time-specific items with my paper calendar,

  3. Complete the items that are datespecific but will not physically fit into my calendar (which I refuse to stuff with notes and loose papers),

  4. Any non-time-specific items then go into the In-box on my desk for processing.

  5. Items are processed in order of the amount of time required, starting with the shortest.

  6. Anything that does not get completed, or needs to go in the organizer, is forwarded to its proper place.

  7. When “today’s” folder is empty, it goes to the back of the line, becoming in effect an empty folder in next month’s queue.

Part of the beauty of this system is that if something comes up and I cannot process the items in the Tickler File for a day or two, it is ready right where I left off. This gives me almost instant access to datespecific items that need to be processed with high priority.

My Organizer

I picked up a nice leather planner that zips closed for $10 at Target. It is now a mini-briefcase that I use to carry my essentials. Number one of course is the Circa organizer that holds my DIY Calendar pages that I designed.

I keep a Pilot .5mm G2 in the pen loop, and a PaperMate .5mm Mega Lead mechanical pencil loose inside. I tuck a few blank 3×5 cards into the front pocket, along with some business cards. Toss in a pad of 3×3 Post-Its and I am ready to go. These are the most essential tools for my personal productivity practice.

Stephen smith

Stephen Smith

Stephen is a small business Conversation Consultant and public speaker that uses the power of the internet to leverage your success. Productivity in Context is a web magazine focused on Productivity and tools for organizing. Make this your headquarters for improving your life and work through increased mindfulness, education, and workflow practices.

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