Make 2020 Your Most Productive Year Yet

by Monette Anderson | Feb 07, 2020

Are you accomplishing tasks at the level your busy schedule demands? When was the last time you examined your productivity methods to determine if they’re really working for you? Perhaps there is a new method you can incorporate to up your game.

Below, I’ve collected a handful of the productivity tips that have served me best over the years. I hope that at least one of them is new to you and that you’ll be able to implement it immediately to up your game!

Ivy Lee Method

The Ivy Lee Method is very simple, and legend has it that Charles M Schwab, a steel production magnate, implemented it in 1918 at his company. Start by pulling out a pen and writing down only six things you need to do the following day. I recommend doing this at the end of the workday or in the evening, but you can make this assessment first thing in the morning if that works best for you. Make sure you prioritize your six items in order of their importance.

The next day, get to work on your first item. Work until you’ve completed it before moving on to the second task and continue. At the end of the day, take stock of what you accomplished and move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the next day.

Pro Tip: To be truly productive, it’s best to focus in increments or time-blocking (more below). That means email is closed and phone notifications are off or silenced to avoid distraction. Instead, make it a habit to check these resources once hourly. Over time, you can try to lengthen the time between checks.

The Pomodoro Technique (aka Time Blocking)

If you’re familiar with the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but not the equally-life-changing magic of the Pomodoro Technique, then we are overdue for a chat. Here’s how it works: Set a timer for 25 minutes. Until that timer goes off, focus on the task at hand. Don’t open Instagram, email, or that article with the interesting headline. Then, once 25 minutes are up, take a five-minute break to grab a snack or check in on what’s trending.

I’ve been a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique (named for Pomodoro tomato kitchen timers) for years and actually have my Pomodoro Time Pro Chrome extension running in the background as I write this blog post. Until my 25-minute focus session is complete, it is saving me from the temptation to visit productivity-sucking social media sites and will let me know when it’s time to take a break and fill my coffee mug. While 25-minute focus sessions are considered ideal for the average individual’s attention span, you can customize the session length for your task’s estimated completion time.

In an open office working environment? Make this a team effort by implementing choreographed Pomodoro sessions. Try getting everyone to agree to keep your heads down working for 25 minutes before catching up on what everyone did this weekend. You’ll all get more done!

Pro Tip: Many people utilize their digital calendar of choice to block off time to work on projects. This helps you avoid meeting conflicts, and if you schedule these working blocks for the times you have the most energy and focus (maybe not right after lunch) you can gain even more of an edge.

Touch It Once Email Method

Most productivity experts and consultants will tell you that answering email, phone calls or texts throughout the day is NOT productive. It gets even more complicated when you have 3,200 unfiled items in your inbox. If you’re relying on the search bar to sift through a mountain of past emails to refer back to something, it may seem like you’re wasting just a few seconds, but these add up quickly. With the touch it once method, you take care of an email as soon as you finish reading it. Make checking and dealing with your email items a time-block activity so you can stay on top of your inbox without letting it dampen your productivity overall.

Pro Tip: Adopt Productivity Pro Laura Stack’s email method to make it easier than ever to tidy your inbox. Going forward, when you finish reading an email you will immediately decide on one of the following courses of action: Delete it, forward it, reply, move it, or unsubscribe.

The Bullet Journal

Track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future. Those are the tenets of bullet journaling. My bullet journal (aka my Bujo) would make the top of any “What’s in Your Bag?” or “What Can’t You Live Without” list. The key to bullet journaling is rapid logging. With rapid logging, you aren’t worrying about where to put pieces of information, you just get the info on paper as efficiently as possible. You note your tasks, events, appointments, ideas or inspiration as they bubble up throughout the day in one daily log. Write each item in a condensed manner with a corresponding notation or key code for easy identification. Then, make it a morning or evening ritual to sift through your daily log and migrate items to a monthly log or special collection/project, mark tasks complete, decide what may not be a priority that you can cross off, etc. I have been enjoying an evening ritual of reviewing and reflecting on my daily log.

Pro Tip: I pair my bullet journaling with my new favorite notebook, The Rocketbook. It integrates scanning technology through an app that keeps your notes for easy keyword searches, and shoots digital copies of your notes out to multiple locations for filing (OneNote, EverNote, email, text, etc). Now I don’t have to carry around multiple planners/notepads for my to-do list, weekly agenda, shopping list, and meeting notes. I just jot what I need in my Rocketbook, scan, and start again.

Giveaway Time!

We want to help you become your most productive self in 2020. That’s why the WSCPA will be giving away one Rocketbook and Frixion Pen to one lucky WSCPA student member! You don’t need to do anything to enter. The winner will be randomly drawn and notified via email. Keep an eye on your inbox; we’ll be in touch.

Action Item #1: WA CPA Foundation Scholarship Application

Submitting a Washington CPA Foundation Accounting Scholarship application should be at the top of your to-do list! The February 17 deadline is quickly approaching. Last year, 200 students finished an application, and 83 walked away with a $5,000-$8,000 scholarship, a free WSCPA membership, a great résumé bullet, and a growing connection of peer and professional network contacts. Get all the details here.

Once you start an application, you’ll automatically receive emails with our top reviewer-approved tips and tricks to make your application shine. We look forward to reviewing your application!

Monette Anderson headshotMonette Anderson is the WSCPA Director of Membership and liaison to the Washington CPA Foundation. You can contact her at

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