You don’t need a fancy organizer or special labels to help your productivity. In fact, some of my favorite productivity tools are probably severely underrated by most “experts” but will still have a big impact on your day! (all items are linked under the “Resources” section at the bottom of the post.
Top 5 Underrated Productivity Tools Transcript
Okay, so I’m not gonna lie, I have recorded the beginning of this so many times, but my passion for these things is just coming through. Today we’re talking about the five most undervalued productivity products out there…and these are not what you would think.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably can guess a couple of them, but man, do I love these items. And you know, just in time for the holiday season, if you need to put some things on a wish list for your family to fulfill, I have got you. I’m going to link all of the things that I talk about in the description for the episode, but just trust me, they’re going to change your life.
I would never make you, or ask you, or suggest that you buy anything if I was not 1,000% sure that it would make something simpler or more productive and efficient for you.
So let’s get going because I cannot spend 10 minutes talking about each of them. I mean, I can, and that’s the problem. I don’t need this to be a 15 minute long episode. So, I’m gonna get all my energy out.
#1 Productivity Tools- Wet Erase Marker
Let’s talk about number one. It is seriously the most underrated productivity tools of our generation, the wet erase marker. I know you’re like what is that? Do you remember overhead projectors? When you were in school, the markers that your teachers wrote on the overhead projectors with wet erase markers because you know, then they had to take their little washcloth and wipe it down. Or, you always had that one math teacher (in my case, precalc), who would lick the cloth so that she could erase things on the sheet.
Wet erase markers are like this hidden gem that I feel like so many people have forgotten about. But what it is essentially, it’s like a semi permanent marker. So with a dry erase, you could just rub it and it would come off. A Sharpie, you need whatever little concoction it takes to get out of the fabric or walls of your home, whatever it is. And in this instance, it will stay on until you get it wet. So it’s like the perfect, mostly permanent, but temporary label you can make.
So I’m going to tell you how I use it in the three different aspects that we always talk about.
So at home, I label everything with a wet erase marker. Especially as my girls are getting older and they’re very intentional on what is theirs and what is not theirs. I will put a wet erase like C or E on the cover of it and then I can wipe it off later. I labeled toy bins because as our toys change, as their ages grow and preferences change, organization systems have to keep up with them. I labeled any plastic bin that I have with a wet erase marker because I can change it as soon as I need to.
Also a fun little tip, I love using it on my calendar…my little dry erase calendar for the month. I know that we will always, rain or shine, year round, we have gymnastics on Mondays. Why would I need to rewrite that every single month when I can just write that on every single Monday once, and then erase around it when that month is over. I mean seriously, it just saves me so much ridiculous random time with my family and my kids at home. Anyway, moving on.
At school, wet erase is another great way to label things. Not only on things like my whiteboards if I need to write something up there and leave it there for a while, but I don’t want somebody to accidentally get rid of it.
I can write on the window from my door where we’re at if we’re out of the classroom.
I can also label things on my desk. I assigned my freshman classes these spooky, scary atom projects, and so each of them needed an element assigned to them (I’m trying to make sure that they work for ionic bonding. It’s a whole nerd thing). Anyway, so I labeled the desks with wet erase, because the first thing that they do is they go try to erase it with their finger and I just looked at them and said, “Not today.”
I also love love, love, love, love love grading with wet erase. And not like on the paper, but my roster that I laminate for each class. I grade with a wet erase marker, and I put their grade on that roster…because I can travel with it. I can take it almost anywhere. Nothing is going to happen to that grade. It will not accidentally get scratched off. It will not accidentally get wiped off. It is there, and then as soon as I put it in the gradebook, I go to one of the eight sinks in my science classroom, and I just run some water over it and it’s done. It’s amazing.
Okay, I could talk about wet erase markers and their uses forever, so let’s just move on to a personal situation. I do try to keep a wet erase marker in my purse at all times. And that feels weird until you think about all the times that you’re in a social gathering, and you have to figure out which cup is yours. Or maybe your kids won a prize at a booth, and you don’t really want to carry a Sharpie with you at all times, because if the Sharpie leaks, it is going to destroy whatever bag you carry it in. But if it’s wet erase, it comes out with water. I freaking love these things, and I have them in all the colors and then color coordinate, and you will never get me to stop. I would buy stock in this if I thought that was a wise investment.
#2 Productivity Tools- Laminator
Okay, anyway, moving on to number two. It goes along with what I was saying with the wet erase where I use a laminated sheet and a wet erase marker to grade. I think that everybody on this planet needs to have a laminator. I feel like laminators have taken a hit in the last couple of years. People don’t like them because they feel like it’s wasteful to laminate stuff, but I think the exact opposite. If we are working on our templates, if we are working on a checklist at home, or we’re working on a schedule or a packing list, and you put all that time and effort into it, do you want to print that out every single time you need it? No, you definitely don’t. Instead, you laminate it once, and then you can use it forever.
I love laminating things at home if I want my kids to practice the alphabet. You could go buy those special wipe erase boards, you could go get them the whiteboards that have the cute little dots and lines on them, or you can print them out a piece of paper, laminate it, and have them practice words over and over again. You can have them practice math over and over again. You can get them little coloring pages and give them different packs of dry erase markers, and they can color the page over and over again. It’s amazing.
At school, laminating, yes, is like one of my favorite productivity tools. Not just for things that my students need to see and observe, or decorations that I want to be upheld over time, but again, my templates. I will use this for a seating chart once I get a seating chart organized, like the basic layout before I put names on it. I’m gonna laminate it, so that I can either use sticky notes or I can move people around. I laminate rosters. I laminated colored dividers for my pages, so as students turn in papers to my one turn in tray, I have a colored divider page that is between all of them. I can then leave notes on those colored divider pages like, first hour, red, Claire wasn’t there today (I do not have a student named Claire, by the way, so I’m not giving up any personal information). But I can use a laminated sheet over and over and over again for my own personal use and my own personal templates that I have. I think that that is where it is so valuable, saving us time from having to reprint, reuse, recreate something. If you’ve created a template, laminate it, laminate it.
#3 Productivity Tools- Block Schedule
Let’s go on to number three. The third most undervalued of the productivity tools is a block schedule. Not just creating a block schedule, but a block schedule planner. I don’t use a regular planner on a daily basis very often during the school year, but on longer breaks, and over the summer, you best believe I’m breaking out my productivity planner. I have talked about it and shared it over and over again. It is a blank, undated block schedule planner, and I will use that thing every single time because it is structuring my days.
Going along with number one and number two, I print out a generic block schedule template (I’ll link one in the episode show notes). It is a free block schedule planner that I created that you can use at home, and also during the school day to help you focus your time. And focusing our time is the key instance here. Right?
You will probably need to get things done at any point in your day, especially if you’re a teacher. And if you’re an overwhelmed teacher, and if you are a teacher who runs a business, has three small kids, and just signed up for a master’s program…yep, that would be me…then you definitely need to schedule your time. And this is just a simple way that’s flexible enough for any part of your day.
I don’t even know how to go into instances where you could use these in all three situations besides going back to episode three, and learn about our block schedules and why we love them so much. But writing it down is a key without writing it down without being able to cross it off without laminating it and being able to use it over and over again, it is not going to be as helpful as it could.
#4 Productivity Tools- Visual Timer
Number four is a visual timer. Now this could mean different things to different people. However, I’m gonna say a visual timer. I think it’s called the Tiny Timer, where it shows you basically like a block of red in a timer that is getting smaller and smaller. As that red gets smaller and smaller, you can see how much time you have left. Or if you have an easy way to show, or see, an amount of time that has either elapsed, or an amount of time that you have left. That is productivity secret number four.
I will use a microwave timer for almost anything I need to get done. I will set a visual timer for my kids who cannot read time, and I say, “Okay, you need to clean up for five minutes before we can go have a snack.” Well, five minutes means nothing to them. They do not understand that. So if I just say you have until this clock goes off, and there’s no more red left, you have to clean up as much as you can…go, they’re way more motivated by time.
I will sometimes just set my phone onto a big timer and put it out of my reach, so that I can either time how long something is going to take, (which is actually gonna be an upcoming episode. I’ll get all into the psychology of that later), or how long I have to finish a task. Because if you raise a clock, you will do it faster.
At home, this is really great for small children. It’s also really great for you, if you just need to get something done and you have a minimum amount of time. Without something visual, you’re probably either going to give up too early or you are going to spend too long on it.
At school, this is just great for students, because we all know they cannot read the clocks that the school provides us anymore, so having a countdown timer even up on the slide or around the room is such a great visual for them.
In your personal life, sometimes you just need to say I need 10 minutes. And sometimes your spouse may need to say I need 10 minutes, and if you put a timer on them, then it’ll help you feel better and only make sure that they’re spending 10 minutes doing whatever they need to calm down.
#5 Productivity Tools- Wireless Headphones
And lastly, I do feel like most people have already jumped on this bandwagon, but if you haven’t, I’m here to convince you that you should, because wireless headphones are probably my number one utilized tech productivity tools. I consider it productivity because I can listen to any podcast, I can put on a YouTube video without disturbing anybody else that’s around me, I can put them in if I need to mow the yard and feel like I’m listening to my audiobook, and yet, achieving something, getting something done.
I can also use them to catch up on videos with Marco Polos with friends. I can use these wireless headphones when I am on my lunch break, so that I can ignore anybody walking by the window and feel like I’m focused on the task at hand…which is sometimes just focusing on you and not feeling like you have to do two things at once. I use wireless headphones in the grocery store.
These are just a little tool that I don’t know if anyone else considers them productivity, but if you think about it, every time you use them, you are being more efficient with your time or more productive with your time.
I would start small if you don’t have any already. But I think that just utilizing that, and being able to have a connection to your phone while moving your phone off to the side, because again, we’re trying to distract the distraction for every single task we’re doing. And the easiest way to feel connected, but also have your distraction distracted, is to be able to use your phone for good while it is doing other things. While you are time lapsing. While you are charging it in another room. You can still benefit from the use of your phone without physically holding on to it because of wireless headphones. I don’t know, there’s just something about them. It is probably the one thing I’m sad I didn’t jump on sooner. But I do consider them a productivity investment.
So if you are looking to upgrade this Christmas, you can always tell somebody that you have the perfect productivity gift in mind. And you hope that some real nice headphones end up under your tree, in your stocking,or just arriving through an Amazon package… whatever it is.
Okay, I could still go on about these for a while, but I hope that you got some ideas on how to use the common things that we have in a slightly different way to make your productivity fly off the charts. And if you haven’t tried wet erase markers, please go buy them. Thank me later. Until next time.
Episode 3: Block Schedule Party!
Wet Erase Multi Pack
Block Schedule Freebie Here
Raycon Wireless Earbuds
5 Steps to Simplify Your To Do List
Productivity Planner – use code ENGDOESEDU for 10% off
Unit Planning Kit
How to Find Me
And visit my Etsy shop HERE
Keywords: wet erase marker, laminate, productivity, label, wireless headphones, schedule, visual timer, block schedule, templates, productivity tools