To write things down is one of the best productivity practices you can ever implement.
It helps you capture your thoughts, remember details, overcome overwhelm, process emotions, and even reach your goals.
But sometimes, to write things down isn’t enough.
To-do lists are currently viewed as ineffective and those fancy planners people buy in January often gather cobwebs after just a few months.
These lists and planners aren’t used to their full advantage. They’re used as simple scratch paper instead of optimized as part of a reliable and strategic productivity system.
Think of other tools at your disposal. Take your smartphone, for example. Imagine if you used your smartphone simply for calling or texting, or just as an alarm clock. Crazy, right? People get smartphones to connect with people (via email, social media, messaging, or calling), to take and store photos, to search and keep information, to play games, and many more.
The principle behind having tools like our smartphones and planners is the same — use them to their full advantage, or might as well not have them at all.
If you’re someone who would like to know how to optimize your to-do list and enjoy the benefits of writing things down, here are recent blog posts for more information:
But in case you’re looking to take action right now, I’m giving away three free printables you can use to help boost your productivity.
Here is a breakdown of how to use them:
I. Free Goal Setting Printable
Goal-setting is beneficial to us in at least two ways:
- To improve ourselves and reach our potential.
- To generate a higher level of contribution to our families, to our surroundings, and to society.
These may seem pretty lofty statements but at its core, the ability to set and accomplish goals is arguably what sets successful and productive people apart.
With that in mind, the first free printable is for goal-setting.
Use this printable to list down three main goals you wish to reach or make progress with in one month.
Fill out the checklist on the right as you make sure each goal is S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound).
+ Related post: How to Set and Accomplish Goals the SMARTER Way
Underneath the goal, determine a timeframe you will give yourself to reach this goal given your capabilities and resources. Remember, a goal needs a deadline otherwise, it will most likely never materialize.
Lastly, identify what you are willing to do and need to do as concrete actionable steps to reach your goals.
Make sure to go back to this free goal-setting printable throughout the month to keep track of where you stand in reaching your goals.
II. Free Habit Tracker Printable
Goal-setting is infinitely easier with the help of habits and systems that work for you, instead of against you.
If, for example, your goal is to exercise regularly, many people find that starting this practice is the hardest part. It's usually the time we have the strongest and most number of excuses.
How do you make time for it?
How do you know what time of the day is best for you?
What type of exercises should you be doing?
What if I can't do it?
But by identifying and keeping track of habits that we want to develop, we are motivated and gain accountability for ourselves to keep going and get past that initial hump.
+ Related: The Habit-10 Challenge
This is where the second free printable comes in: a habit tracker to list down habits you want to develop or re-shape.
For each day that you do it, put a check or color-in the box under the corresponding date. As the days pass and the boxes get filled up, you’ll see which habits you’re gaining control of and which ones you need to improve on.
It’ll be helpful to also display this tracker somewhere you pass by often such as taped to a mirror or stuck to your fridge.
At the end of the month, make sure to reward yourself for all your hard work and for being that much closer to reaching your goals.
III. Free Weekly Planner Printable
Now that you've identified the goals you wish to reach and the habits you want to develop or change, it's time to list down and plan your weekly activities.
Ideally, your activities should help move you further along or at the very least, 'make sense'. Oftentimes you meet someone who never reaches their goal because of the simple fact that what he or she does doesn't help them reach it.
Continuing our earlier example of someone whose goal is to exercise regularly, he or she should then have some sort of weekly exercise regimen — going to the gym thrice a week, a weekend hiking trip, Yoga every Tuesday and Thursday, and so on.
I highly suggest doing these three steps (and printables) in order so that you can get really clear about what you want and what you do to get it. If you notice that you have activities that don't relate to your goals or worse, actually prevents you from reaching them, then it's time to evaluate.
Using these printables is not just for those trying to be productive either, but it's also for those pursuing their passions.
Looking to learn how to play the guitar?
How about practice calligraphy?
Or want to start a blog?
It isn't impossible. All you have to do is make time for it and I truly hope these printables can help you with that. Again, the key is to optimize them by making them part of a reliable and strategic productivity system, and not toss them away like scratch paper.
After all, this blog is named Productive and Free and my goal is to provide you with actionable tips, resources, and inspiration to live a full and creative life.
Sign up to download the 3 free printables:
Share in the comments below: Do you use printables? How have they helped you become productive and free so far?