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We (a group of university students) generally meet for tea every week and discuss various topics, and my friends ask me to give a talk on productivity and time management in one of our next meetings. I'm not an expert on topic but they insisted so much that I thought it was a good idea to ask to the experienced people here before I let them them know my answer.

I know it is not possible to go into details but I just want to mention some key-points and give them references so that my friends can read further details there and apply the ones appropriate to them.

For now, I plan to mention about

Besides, I want to send links to them such as

and I will mention tools that they can use for improving their productivity such as Pomodoro timers, Nirvanahq, Tiddle Wiki, Toodledo, Evernote, Google Docs, etc.

Actually, my aim is to give some key ideas and I want to continue by discussions. On the other hand, I do not want to make their mind overrun by many ideas!

Do you have any recommendations? Is there any summary material that I can use?

Some further notes:

  • It seems that my friends don't know anything about GTD, Pomodoro or any other productivity techniques and they are unaware of software tools to help them to get organized.
  • The talk and discussion will be at most one hour in total.
  • My friends are mostly students in areas varying from engineering to education and linguistics. Their main concern is to get better grades while continuing their extra-curricular activities.
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thanks for the Pmarca guide link, he does a nice job of summarizing and integrating awesome techniques! – Vic Goldfeld Nov 21 '11 at 16:40
I think that this question is too broad - it is more of a discussion question – Casebash Mar 22 '12 at 2:09
What about turning it into a community-wiki? – petrichor Mar 22 '12 at 9:37

Important for me is that you tell that there is not one single solution that fits for everyone. It is good to know a lot of techniques to choose the right mixture that is the best match for every person.

It's like having a toolbox with lots of tools and being able to choose the right tool for the task you are doing.

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Talking about tools and techniques is important and may show the importance of at least think about productivity. However, this talks can become a bit abstract, and people may not find ways to use that in their daily life.

More than talking about techniques and tools you should show by example how you can be more productive or stress-free applying some of those tools and techniques in your personal and professional life.

For me, that is the most important, because it shows how people can merge several bits of each technique to create what works best for themselves.

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Get a better goal. "Giving a talk on productivity" is a meaningless goal. "Giving a talk that helps the audience to become more productive" is much better.

Present solutions that worked for you and encourage them to implement them into their own lives.

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+1 Here you go. I've changed my title with the new aim. – petrichor Nov 24 '11 at 20:02

Great idea. I think that this should be enough. You wrote that they do not have any idea. Important is to create an awareness that it is possible to be more productive and that it will be a continual process in which you get better with practice.

The technique used should not be so important, but the main principles used, e.g. note taking and why this is important.

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My best advice, especially for the first "conversation", is to keep it simple. There is a lot of variety of methodologies, and a lot of detail in each of those methodologies, and it's easy for folks who are casually interested in the subject to feel completely overwhelmed.

I give a twice-yearly, GTD-based presentation on personal task management to our trainees at work and have boiled the main part of it down to three key points:

  • Write it down.
  • Decide on the next action.
  • Review.

I elaborate on each point verbally, of course, but these points are all that show up on the relevant slide. It gets across the core of the GTD system without causing anyone's eyes to glaze over and it's immediately useful.

At the end, if there's time, I touch lightly on some of the different systems available and after the presentation, I email everyone a PDF listing resources (books, programs, websites, my email address!). My goal is that by the time they get the PDF, they no longer feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the idea of exploring the options available.

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+1 Thanks. Your answer reminded me the tool I recently met. I added the link to Nirvanahq as an example tool for applying GTD. – petrichor Mar 21 '12 at 14:48

I think it would be good to mention positive effects of different time management techniques or particular technique : less stress, more control, less time on organization and work, more precise estimates and results prediction, more trust , etc ....

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