If you've ever wished you could find a way to be more efficient and always stay on top of your schedule then this article is for you. Learning to stay organized is the best way to maximize your productivity. Keep reading to discover useful research, tips, and tools to help you better organize your day, set achievable goals, and build good habits.
Build good habits and track them daily
James Clear, the author of "Atomic Habits", highlights the importance of building habits on a journey to personal growth: "Habits are like the atoms of our lives, each one is a fundamental unit that contributes to your overall improvement."
Research shows that tracking your habits — like exercise, staying hydrated, or getting enough sleep — increases the chance of these behaviors becoming established, which can help you turn your goals and aspirations into a healthy routine. Introducing these small changes is a way to make long-lasting positive changes to your lifestyle.
This habit tracker template comes with a list of good practices to help you stay healthy and productive. It's organized into a checklist, so you can cross off what you've done every day — making it easy to track your progress, and stay motivated.
Outline your priorities and set yourself up for a more productive day with a daily planner
Managing a hectic schedule can feel overwhelming, and without clear priorities, you may find it difficult to plan your days and get all the work done. According to a 2011 study published in the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology", having a clear plan of action leads to increased productivity and performance.
Jake Knapp, the author of "Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day", highlights the importance of starting your day with a clearly laid out goal: “Something magic happens when you start the day with one high-priority goal.”
Knapp also explains the benefits of setting realistic tasks. “Shifting your focus to something that your mind perceives as a doable, completable task will create a real increase in positive energy, direction, and motivation,” he advises.
With this daily planner template, you can set your priorities for the day, tick off completed tasks with a to-do list, and keep tabs on your habits. This essential planner helps you optimize your time management, prioritize tasks, and stay focused. This way you can be sure to never miss a deadline or an appointment again. Keeping your days organized is also a way to boost your productivity, and make the most of your time.
To optimize your daily planning further, you can set aside some time each week to review and adjust your plans to make sure your schedule reflects your goals and helps you reach them faster.
Organize your thoughts and direct your focus with daily notes
If you ever find yourself frustrated about forgetting an idea or a thought you've had earlier in the week, or you wish you could be more consistent with your habits — it might be time to start writing daily notes.
A 2006 study published in the journal "Current Issues of Education", suggests that daily note-taking promotes critical thinking and personal growth, as well as helps grow understanding through active reflection. In "The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future", Ryder Carroll explains how journaling helps organize your thoughts and direct your focus to the right tasks: “The Bullet Journal method will help you accomplish more by working on less. It helps you identify and focus on what is meaningful by stripping away what is meaningless.”
Tackling too many things at the same time leads to stretching yourself too thin. This means you are unlikely to properly direct your attention. Journaling is a way to identify the most important things to focus on, helping you stay productive rather than just busy. “Inevitably we find ourselves tackling too many things at the same time, spreading our focus so thin that nothing gets the attention it deserves. This is commonly referred to as "being busy." Being busy, however, is not the same thing as being productive.", explains Carroll.
This daily note template prompts you to reflect on your day, document your progress, and track your habits.
Daily notes in Craft are tied to a calendar date so you use them to track your notes, ideas, and thoughts every day. You can use the calendar view to jump backward and forward in time to easily track your milestones, manage deadlines, or get a historical timeline of your progress. This also keeps your daily notes organized with no extra effort.
Use this template for all your notes to keep a consistent format for your updates. This makes it easier to track your progress over time and look back to find exactly what you're looking for.
If you use daily notes for work, by keeping up with writing them every day, you're building a real knowledge hub for reflection and learning. This way you can make more informed decisions and find ways to improve your workflow.
Turn the record of your meetings into an action plan with meeting notes
Right after a meeting, most participants tend to feel clear about what was discussed. But memory can sometimes fail you, especially if you go to a lot of meetings, or see multiple clients. The best way to keep track of all the important discussions, and make sure the agreed follow-up actions make it to your to-do list, is to document every meeting with a good meeting notes template. This way you can keep an accurate record of the discussions, and know exactly how to proceed. And, in case of a misunderstanding, you can always refer back to your notes and clarify what was agreed.
The best way to build a useful and easy-to-navigate meeting database is to use a consistent format for all your notes. They should cover all the important aspects - from the meeting goals to agreed action items. A good template is all you need to make sure you check all these boxes and start taking effective and actionable notes. This way you will never forget any valuable discussions, and you'll always be clear on what the next steps are for you and your colleagues.
Make your goals SMART
A 2016 study in the "Review of Public Personnel Administration", shows that setting clear goals positively affects performance in teams — so the best way to become more effective is to learn to set goals that are not vague or diffused.
S.J Scott, the author of "SMART Goal Setting Made Simple - 10 Steps to Master Your Personal and Career Goals", explains how you can achieve that by learning the SMART method. In his book, he highlights the importance of a structured approach to goal setting, and explains why you first need to understand what you aim to achieve: "You can’t create an action plan if you don’t have a clear description of your desired outcome.”
He also highlights the importance of creating a realistic timeline and having a clear action plan for achieving your goals, helping you focus on the process and celebrate the small wins.
This SMART goals template is your guide to the SMART method, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. This way you can set goals that are clear, manageable, and achievable within a given timeframe. Targeted questions and practical examples help you better understand your goals — and SMART verification tables make sure they check all the SMART boxes. Dedicated spaces for regular review help you measure your progress, adjust your timeline, and decide on actions to take to help you stay on track.
Reduce information overload with a second brain
According to experts, information overload is a widespread problem that leads to increased stress, reduced performance, and decreased job satisfaction. This effect can be a direct result of being regularly exposed to too much information, and managing an overloaded schedule.
Ryder Carroll, the author of "The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future", points out how information overload leads to burnout. “Overwhelmed by a never-ending flood of information, we’re left feeling overstimulated yet restless, overworked yet discontented, tuned in yet burned out", he explains.
One way to tackle that problem is to store some of your information in a second brain document. It's just like buying a new hard drive and moving some of the data from your computer.
This second brain template has everything you need to keep all your information — both work-related and personal — in one space. With a system of cards and pages, your data is always within reach, while your workspace stays organized, and as minimal as you like.
Follow the instructions in this template to learn how to use the slash menu to easily customize this second brain to suit your needs. Populate it with your goals, projects, resources, and ideas. You can also add dates and set deadlines that are integrated with your calendar, and move anything relevant to your daily note to keep this space organized.
Save articles, links, and resources for later
If you spend a lot of time on the internet, you probably find plenty of useful and interesting links. You might end up saving them to your bookmarks, hoping to get back to them later, but never actually doing so. The best way to make sure you actually end up reading or watching these useful resources is to build a space where you can organize them in a way that makes sense to you.
You can build your own read-it-later doc in Craft with this customizable resource library template. It's a structured space to keep all your important links in, letting you create as many categories as you need to keep your links organized. This way you will never lose an interesting article, or forget the name of the product you found worth exploring.
With smart links, you can copy and paste your resources directly into the doc, which will create a link preview, and lead you directly to the website. Smart links display more than your usual link preview — they also show relevant information about the resource, like the name of the author and the publication date.
By having all your links in one space, you can easily share your resources with a friend or a colleague. If you only want to share them from one category, you can copy a link to a card or a page in this doc by navigating to it and creating a share link.
Get these templates and start organizing your professional and personal life, set more achievable goals, and track your habits. Make sure to regularly update these docs, keep up with your daily notes, and observe how quickly you can reach your productivity goals.