What I’m doing to get stuff done at work and in life, in 2019.

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these.

I’ve been inspired by Rands’ post on “a context bucket for everything”. I’m trying not to be too rigid in following a routine every week because that would be rather dull. But I’ve definitely had a routine of sorts for the past few months inspired by some podcasts I’ve been listening to lately as well.

The start of the week

I start the week by defining three key tasks I want to get done during my work week. These should include professional goals - they don’t have to be related to my employer’s immediate goals specifically (though some should given I’m doing them on my employer’s dime) but they’re basically tasks that should be done to further my career, my employer, or my interests.

Having this posturing means that I have a clear mandate to accept or decline tasks as they come up during the week depending on if they’ll align with what I’m doing that week. There are few things more destructive to enjoyable and sustained creative works than context switching.

The start of each day

I aim to get to work, and open up a new page in my notebook. I don’t open email at all when I get in. Rather, I look at my calendar for the day, and using my three key tasks + the meetings I have that day to determine what I want to get done. I’ll then note down 2-4 things (preferably 3 ONLY) that I’m aiming to get done during the day.

Finally, I use the second half of the page roughly divided between “9am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm” and sketch in anything that I know is going to happen in particular time periods. I’ll then work on the most creative / inspiring item that I’ve identified for the morning. That means no email, no administrative tasks.

The end of the week

The last 4 hours of Friday are best served in a quiet room reflecting and doing any little errands you wanted to get done but didn’t make it into your most important things list.

Having said this, I rarely get around to doing it.

During tasks

In Campaign Monitor product teams, we work on tasks moving through a kanban board, with WIP limits driving work and ensuring that things don’t get blocked. Given the basis of a full item of work is a JIRA card, I tend to track things that I need to get done by the JIRA card.

The easiest way to manage all these things that I’ve found is the humble sticky note. Well, that’s not quite accurate. I actually don’t mean the analogue sticky note but the Sticky Notes app found on pretty much every mainstream operating system.

I divide it into two sections: TODO and DONE. If there’s a new thing I need to get done as part of the card, I’ll whack it in the todo section. Even if I find out new information later on that means I don’t need to do it, at least I’ve got it written down. That way, I don’t need to keep everything in my head.

Where do I want to be?

This is a good question; I’m not sure where I want to be going next. I definitely want to start doing my daily planning sessions the day before rather than in the morning.