Just attended an open session about personal productivity and it has helped me to think about how I organize (or not) myself. I’ve tried a lot of tools and ways and I still haven’t found a perfect way to know which tasks to do next.
There are some things that I love from GTD like having one single source of truth, only one medium to store the tasks to do.
I’m using rememberthemilk but everything would work here. If I receive emails that I can’t solve immediately I try to extract the underlying task and store it in a list with a reference to the mail if needed. And then I archive the email.
I try to have the mail inbox at 0. That’s my personal OCD but also I want to look only at one place to know which tasks I have to do, instead of having to navigate several email accounts and lists.
Another thing I like is using the calendar to reflect only date appointments and things that you have to do on a specific date, like attending a meeting but not artificial ones as we usually do when we set imaginary deadlines.
The calendar only reflects what has to be done on that specific date. Usually, we have to do something ASAP and we reflect that commitment with an imaginary deadline. In my humble opinion that clutters real date commitments.
And the last thing I love from GTD is the idea of capture everything. When I identify a task to do I immediately write it down to process it later instead of trying to remember it. The idea behind is trying to clear your mind of tasks to do and using your lists as an information store. I don’t want to worry about forgetting a task to do, everything is stored in rememberthemilk. Vanesa’s post explains it nicely.
I also use the idea of next action to mark which tasks I want to do right away. I review the task list daily to identify objectives for the day and I clean the list weekly. Instead of having a today list, I work with a next actions list because tasks usually don’t have to be done on a specific date (ASAP). Those tasks are the ones that receive all my focus and I try to close right away if possible.
I have several “projects”: cylicon, agilespain, liferay, compromises to others… and I flag the next priority actions trying to identify real priorities (urgent vs important) and avoid having 5+ tasks at the same time.
I have a process tightly bound to rtm, I use repeating tasks (usually each 3 days) to help me to work on projects outside my comfort zone.
Velleity is my favorite word: “a desire to see something done, but not enough desire to make it happen”. I like to see things happening in cylicon valley or agile spain or to write in the blog but those tasks are usually forgotten against work or urgent tasks.
To avoid that I create a repeating task that launches every X days (depending on the importance of the project) that forces me to mark it as next action and to spend at least 2 pomodoros on it (my OCD works great here, if I see a task marked with next action I have to complete it someway).
There are some things I struggle with:
- Stop starting, Start finishing: I deal badly with many tasks, I don’t like seeing so many things to be done but at the same time I love starting new projects. I have to force myself (would be great leveraging my OCD) to close and end, completely, long tasks.
- Focus!: There are some things that should be projects but, because I don’t like having many tasks, are reflected in rtm as long/never-ending tasks (or even worse, subtasks). Really bad idea I can’t live with. I find it really hard to start working on those tasks (because they are very big) and I always postpone them and work in another task.
- Tasks not in rtm: again, with my hate to having too many tasks (it seems my brain doesn’t like to see all the pending tasks), I try to cheat myself reflecting tasks in other mediums (like the invoices I’m currently carrying to digitalise) or some fake deadlines on Google Calendar.
Nothing else for now, I know I haven’t talked about the nitty-gritty details. Any suggestions are welcomed, though :)