You know all about Pomodoro, GTD, and 80/20 — and you're either a huge fan, or they've left you cold. Here are a few new productivity and task management techniques to help you be super productive without burning out.

1. Jerry Seinfeld's "Don't Break the Chain"

Yep, that Jerry Seinfeld. Turns out, he's been sitting on a secret to daily productivity for years, and recently it's attracted a lot of attention.

Here's how it works: 

You'll need a red marker and a calendar to display in a prominent spot. Pick a routine task, a significant goal, or a skill you'd like to improve. It could be anything, from "Exercise" or "Learn Mandarin" to "Improve Customer Retention by 10%." Every day you work towards that goal or complete that task, put a big, fat X on your calendar. Pretty soon you'll have a chain of Xs. Now... don't break the chain. It's that simple!

You can use this technique to track more than one goal or habit, but be judicious when choosing them. If you try and juggle too many, your chains will inevitably get broken and the whole thing will fall apart. Try to choose one or two big goals to build your chains on. Consistent, daily progress can have a big impact!

Use this approach to: Develop a new habit, make steady progress on a big project, and give yourself an extra push of motivation to get things done — even when you don't feel like it.

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2. Jay Shirley's "Must, Should, Want" method

Jay Shirley, creator of a habit-building application called The Daily Practice, developed this approach to make his days both productive and enjoyable.

Here's how it works: 

First thing in the morning when you create your to-do list, start with these three entries:

1. I must ______________ (a high-priority task that will have an immediate impact)
2. I should ____________ (a task that will contribute to your long-term goals)
3. I want ______________ (something you genuinely want to do)

With this approach, every day you're working on something that will benefit you in the short-term, as well as lay the groundwork for long-term goals. And the "I want" task helps maintain your sanity by building in a little time for something you're passionate about.

The next day, perhaps over your first cup of coffee, review your tasks and evaluate the results. Did you accomplish what you wanted to? Are you happy with the outcome? Building in a night of rest between working on tasks and reviewing them refreshes your brain and gives you a little bit of distance. After you've reviewed yesterday's progress, start creating your "Must, Should, Want" list for today.

Use this approach to: Avoid burnout and stop dreading your to-do list. Plus, doing something you enjoy each and every day is good for your health, and helps make your productivity sustainable. 

3. Marc Andreessen's Anti-ToDo List

Do you ever look at your to-do list at the end of a busy day and think, "I didn't get anything done today"? It's pretty disheartening. But more than that, it's just not true. Odds are you actually did a lot of work — it's just not reflected in your to-do list. Still, that feeling of disappointment can take a heavy toll on your motivation. Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, started incorporating an "Anti-ToDo List" into his daily habits to measure his productivity.


Here's how it works: 

Every time you do something useful during the day, write it down. That's it.

Your to-do list is a standard you'll never live up to consistently, and your Anti-ToDo list is daily deserved rewards. You shouldn't wait until a project is finished to celebrate what you've accomplished or savor your progress. It's amazing how feeling productive can help keep your productivity high! So next time you reflect on a hectic day and wonder, "What did I actually accomplish today?" just pull out your Anti-ToDo list and give yourself a pat on the back.

Use this approach to: Gain incentive and motivation from your daily accomplishments, measure incremental progress, and get a clearer picture of how your working hours are actually spent. 

4. Sam Carpenter's "Biological Prime Time"

How many cups of coffee do you need to make it through your day? Is there a certain time in the afternoon when you feel completely wiped out? In his book Game the System, Sam Carpenter zeroes in on what he calls his "biological prime time," or the key windows of time where he's at his most productive.

Here's how it works: 

You'll need to start paying attention to three things: your productivity, focus, and motivation. Every hour or two, rate each on a scale from 1-10. After a week or so you can create a simple graph and start noticing some trends. Whenever your productivity, focus and motivation align at a high point, you've found a "biological prime time."

Image credit: Chris Bailey

By pinpointing these sweet spots, you can schedule your most important tasks or meetings for those times. That way, you're at your best during crucial moments and can channel those windows of focused productivity into high-priority projects.

Use this approach to: Discover links between your diet, sleeping habits, and work environment to tweak your daily habits and increase productivity. 

Share your personal productivity strategies: do you "eat the frog"? Follow the 2-minute rule? Track your to-dos using pen and paper, or prefer a task management software? We'd love to hear! And if you're interested in productivity habits for your entire team, download our eBook for concrete advice on transforming your team into a high performance unit: 5 Strategies for Forming Team Productivity Habits.

 Sources: Lifehacker,,,