Productivity

11 Best Productivity Methods For Therapists

 February 25, 2021

By  Uriah Guilford, MFT

minute read

There are so many productivity methods out there – how can you possibly know which one is best?

The simple answer is that the BEST productivity method is the one that works for YOU. But how can you know which one will actually work for you without trying them all?

Simple – let us do the legwork for you!

You may already have figured this out about me but I am very slightly obsessed with productivity and systems, so I’ve taken a deep dive into each of these methods for you and I’m happy to give you the results of my exhaustive research in a simple, snackable format.

To be honest, I like to create rules for myself and then break them! My productivity methods change from time to time and nothing is sacred. So have fun with these, try something new and you will quickly find yourself in the fast lane to productivity.

Ready? Let’s get started! And when we’re done, don’t forget to check out the bottom of this article for a special, limited-time offer….ooo, the suspense!

Eat That Frog

Not literally, clearly. We’ll leave that to the French – they’ve turned frog consumption into an art. This is a great productivity method to start with because not only does it sound really fun, but it’s actually super quick and easy to implement, and yields immediate results.

Also, it’s the first one alphabetically LOL.

What It Is

Centered around self-reflection and self-motivation, this method encourages you to be aware of your work habits and tackle the most impactful tasks on your to-do list first.

This is not a particularly novel approach, but the idea of almost anthropomorphizing your biggest, ugliest, most intimidating tasks into a bulbous frog hopping about on your desk somehow makes you want to deal with them immediately!

The genius of this method is that it not only helps you to clearly picture your tasks as living things that need to be dealt with, but it also motivates you to actually start on your to-do list. Which, let’s face it, is often the hardest part of having a to-do list; actually doing the things on it. Do you ever find yourself making a list just to feel like you’ve done something (‘I made a list!’) so that you don’t actually have to do anything? Nope, me either. *whistles innocently*

Why I Like It

If you’re a chronic procrastinator and have a hard time prioritizing, this method is worth a try. Imagine how great you’ll feel with all those frogs off your desk.

Eisenhower Matrix

President Eisenhower is known for being one of the most productive people ever to have lived. His accomplishments resume is impressive:

  • Served two terms as President of the United States
  • Launched the Interstate Highway System
  • Oversaw the launch of the internet
  • Created NASA
  • Created the Atomic Energy Act
  • Five-star general in the US Army
  • Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during WWII
  • Supreme Commander of NATO
  • Managed to find time for golf and oil painting

Eisenhower’s ability to sustain this high level of productivity for decades became legendary. So it’s no surprise that his methods for productivity have been studied by many smart people.

What It Is

It’s pretty simple in concept but part of its genius is that it can be used for big picture productivity (eg. ‘How should I spend my time this week?’) and smaller focus productivity (Eg. ‘What should I do today?’).

Using the decision matrix below, you would separate your tasks based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (things you will do immediately)
  2. Important, but not urgent (things you can do later)
  3. Urgent, but not important (things you can delegate to someone else)
  4. Neither urgent nor important (things you can eliminate)

An Eisenhower Box can be illustrated quite simply:

Why I Like It

I love this productivity method because it’s simple in concept yet profound in application. If you get in the habit of categorizing tasks this way, it will help you clarify not just what you need to do but why, when and how, which will free up a lot of mental energy and time.

Getting Things Done

This productivity method is a classic that works for analog paper-users and digital app lovers alike.

One-notepad-and-two-pens

What It Is

Getting Things Done is a system of lists, reminders and weekly reviews that enable you to offload stress and focus on the task at hand.

There are many components to the system, but the main three that I like are

  • Have a ‘collection bucket’ – a list that allows you to collect all interruptions, so you don’t get derailed
  • Create a ‘next steps’ list – list all the specific tasks of your current projects
  • Do a weekly review – empty your collection bucket and update all lists. This point has to be consistent or your brain won’t relax because it knows you won’t follow through on its nagging.

Why I Like It

Most interruptions don’t need to be dealt with immediately, and trying to makes you far less productive. This way of thinking enables you to collect all interruptive thoughts, tasks and projects in one place and consistently deal with them, which eliminates stress and allows you to focus.

Organize Tomorrow Today

One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to change too many things all at once. This system helps you create a ritual of one positive habit so the changes stick.

What It Is

Organize Tomorrow Today works with the premise that there are eight productive habits that we can improve:

  1. Organize tomorrow today
  2. Choose wisely
  3. Maximize your time
  4. Win your ‘fight thru’s’
  5. Evaluate yourself
  6. Talk to yourself
  7. Rehearse talking to others
  8. Become abnormal

Of these eight habits, the authors suggest picking your top ‘3 Most Important’ habits, and then singling out one ‘Must-Do’ from those three. You then focus on doing a task from your Must-Do for as long as it takes you to master that habit. You only move on to the next habit once you’ve gotten the first one firmly embedded.

Why I Like It

Trying to change everything all at once is a recipe for failure. I like that this system takes one bitesize task/habit and allows you time to truly make it a habit.

Personal Kanban

If you like post-it notes and are a visual processor, this productivity method is right up your street.

What It Is

Personal Kanban allows you to visually diagram all your goals and tasks, as well as giving you the visual satisfaction of seeing what you’ve accomplished.

You simply write each task for the day on a separate post-it, then stick them on a mid-sized whiteboard divided into three columns: Ready (for work to be done), Doing (work in progress), and Done (completed tasks).

This allows you to see at a glance what needs doing and what you’ve finished.

Why I Like It

Moving the sticky notes around is kind of fun and gives you great positive reinforcement when you complete a task. Plus you can make it colorful with lots of post-it colors, which is a plus for visual processors.

Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro technique helps you apply super focus and single tasking to get more done in a shorter amount of time.

What It Is

Created by a German-Italian IT consultant with a tomato obsession, this method is based on a study that suggests chunking work into 25 minute time blocks makes it easier to focus.

You assign however many blocks of 25 minutes (Pomodori) you think a particular task will need, and then take a 5 minute break after each 25 minute block.

Tomato-shaped timer optional. Is it still classifed as an egg-timer if it’s shaped like a tomato…? 🤔

Why I Like It

This method encourages you to focus for a set amount of time without interruption, which is proven to make you more productive. The knowledge that you’ll get a proper break after each block of time is a great focus incentive.

Singletasking

Singletasking draws on neuroscience research that proves we’re not designed to multitask and why singletasking is consistently better for work productivity, relationships and general happiness.

What It Is

Singletasking involves using multiple hacks and techniques to stop procrastinating (which is what multitasking really is) and stay focused on one thing.

Why I Like It

I’m a big proponent of singletasking because the science and research are clear: our brains are simply not built to multitask. Multitasking is really busy-feeling procrastination; it’s our mind’s way of going the easy route by not sticking with one thing. This productivity method will have a huge impact on your stress and productivity levels.

The Checklist Manifesto

Checklists are life. Quite literally, in the case of the surgeon who created this productivity method – he created The Checklist Manifesto to prevent mistakes, misses and misrememberings when it really matters, i.e. during surgeries.

What It Is

Checklists, glorified. When you’re working on any complex task, no individual or team can possibly remember everything. Checklists are your insurance that vital tasks and elements don’t get missed or forgotten. This method helps you optimize short, clear checklists that focus on the essentials.

Why I Like It

If you do any repetitive, detailed work, this method will eliminate the extra brainpower and stress involved with remembering small but important details.

Theming Your Days

This is not a plug for Disney, although they are experts at themed days! Dapper Day, anyone?

What It Is

Theming Your Days involves batching similar kinds of work together on a single day. For example, I use Mon/Wed/Thurs for meetings and coaching calls, and Tues/Fri for creating content and general catchup.

Why I Like It

This method really seems to work well for me. It creates a predictable structure for my week and allows me to focus on a similar kind of work or task at one time, rather than jumping around mentally. This also employs Singletasking, so I end up being more productive and less stressed.

Time Blocking & Task Batching

A workplace truism says that if you don’t control your schedule, it will control you. Close cousins of Theming Your Days, Time Blocking and Task Batching can be a revelation in schedule control.

What It Is

Rather than jumping around from task to unfinished task, Time Blocking suggests dividing your day into blocks of time that are each dedicated to working only on a specific task or group of tasks. This allows you to focus and get more done. This does involve some planning and flexibility if you have tasks left over at the end of the week – adjust your time blocks for the following week accordingly.

Task Batching is a similar concept, except instead of blocking time you’re grouping tasks together and scheduling a time block to finish them all at once. An example of this would be scheduling two 20-minute blocks to work on emails during the day. This will always be more efficient than checking it every few minutes or every time you get a notification.

Why I Like It

I make a solid effort to only check emails at certain times and batch similar tasks together to be as efficient as possible. When used together, these two related time management methods promote focused work and enable you to get lots of smaller tasks off your plate in the most efficient manner.

Zero-Based Scheduling

Zero-Based Scheduling works with the premise that absolutely every task should be scheduled, no matter how small. That includes lunch and that questionnaire you want to fill out.

What It Is

This method budgets your minutes, just like you do your money. Without time budgeting, tasks tend to spread to fill the time available, often taking much longer than you expected or wanted.

With Zero-Based Scheduling, each task gets scheduled a finite time window for completion, just as you would for an appointment or meeting. These deadlines help to keep you focused and motivated.

Why I Like It

While this method may sound limiting, it actually ends up being the opposite – giving you more time to spend on…well, whatever you want really. This method will completely transform your relationship with time.

Productive Therapist Insider

If you’ve enjoyed learning about these cool productivity methods in a simple, snackable format, you’ll LOVE Productive Therapist Insider! 🙌🏻

My 3 Biggest Productivity Challenges

Productive Therapist Insider is a monthly membership that gives you access to training, tools and resources created exclusively for practice owners.

You’ll get personalized support and regular one-on-one time with me, Uriah, to answer all your burning practice-related questions. We’re constantly adding new training resources to help you optimize your intake process, get more clients, grow your practice and stand out from the crowd 🎉

Click the link below to become a Productive Therapist Insider today ✅

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P.S. If you sign up now using the code ‘Secret’, I’ll give you your first month’s membership for just $1. That’s too good a price to miss – click the link to grab your limited-time intro deal now!

Uriah Guilford, MFT


Uriah is a group practice owner and the creator of Productive Therapist. He is a technology nerd, a minimalist travel packer, a rock drummer and business development enthusiast.

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