6 Productivity Blogs You Should Read This Year

6 Productivity Blogs You Should Read This Year

6 Productivity Blogs You Should Read This YearThe truth is, we don’t always have time to read full-length books to improve our productivity. That’s where blogs come in. In just a few minutes, we can have the inspiration we need to get more done. Here are six of my favorite blogs from last year that I recommend (in no particular order).

#1 99U

Offering a mix of productivity content that appeals to a wide audience, 99U is a place I often find myself, usually following a link from Google+ Productivity.

Here’s their best of 2014.

#2 Life of a Steward

I don’t know of a better blog for keeping the faith front and center in discussions of productivity. If you’re a Christian, you don’t want to miss this blog.

I really like his post A Superior Goal Setting Model: Beyond Smart. I think you will, too.

#3 Hugh Culver

I started reading Hugh’s blog this year and look forward to new posts every Sunday. I find so many of his posts compelling, which is impressive given how much I’ve read on the topic.

One of his hallmark posts is How to Get Your To-Do List Out Of Your Head, Organized & Done

#4 Productivityist

Mike Vardy is the man behind Productivityist and a great guy. I love his reviews of apps like this one of ToDoist. He is active and helpful in the ToDoist community on Google+ as well. This is an excellent guest post on a step-by-step system to higher productivity.

#5 Bakadesuyo.com

These epic blog posts are like mini books on specific topics incorporating research, videos, and tips. Very impressive as I know just how long these kinds of posts to write. Therefore, I don’t write them.

This post on how to stop procrastinating is an example. If you watch the videos and read all the enticing link, you will BE procrastinating. Just warning you.

#6 MarkForster.squarespace.com

It’s not the blog that I’m crazy about as much as the forum. I get most of my productivity tips from the great people there.

Here is one of my favorite threads where people talk about how they’re managing tasks now. Feel free to jump in!

If this is one of your favorite productivity blogs, be sure to subscribe to the productivity-only posts for Psychowith6. What are your favorite productivity blogs?

This post is part of a 5-day series on productivity favorites. You may enjoy the other 5 Day Hopscotch posts from iHomeschool Nhindetwork bloggers. Check them out!

5 Days of iHomeschool Network goodness!

 

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Opposite Advice for Getting More Done

Opposite Advice for Getting More Done

Opposite Advice for Getting More Done. Maybe all the productivity advice you've heard is wrong?I was reading a question posed on Mark Forster’s forum about whether doing the opposite of what others generally do is effective when it comes to productivity, and I realized that I have found that it is. Here is the advice I have NOT followed with great results.

#1 Collect all your to-do’s into one trusted system.

The gurus who preach this haven’t met people like me who can produce a potential task a second.

Every time I’ve followed this advice, I’ve become overwhelmed and have shut down. It becomes impossible for me to sort out the things I must do from the things I would like to do. A someday/maybe list within the same trusted system doesn’t work for me either. I need to keep all of my ideas and potential tasks in a separate place, so I don’t become confused. Right now, all of my legitimate tasks go into ToDoist and everything else is added to Evernote. Evernote is a great place for me to put things to cool off. I find there are very few of them that I want to do anything with when I review them later.

While it’s a good idea not to have your tasks in many different places, keeping absolutely everything in one place keeps me from getting things done. 

#2 Get everything done on today’s list.

I’m like so many of David Allen‘s clients who are desperate for a “win.” But defining win as getting everything done on my list for today does not work for me.

Predicting the demands on my time for any given day is as accurate as a weather forecast. Things happen.  People and circumstances can keep me from getting everything done, but so can I. I have no way of knowing when I will run out of gas physically or emotionally. Of course, I do what I can to improve my energy levels, but some days I’m unpredictable. I suddenly need a nap or idle entertainment to recharge.

When I use this principle of completion to evaluate my productivity, I feel like a failure and am less motivated, not more. Instead, I schedule my tasks using Timeful and if I get MOST of my tasks done for the day, I count it as a win.

#3 Don’t procrastinate.

Of course, there are times when procrastination makes more work for us and leads to strained relationships and poor self-esteem. But I’ve learned to be grateful for procrastination.

Procrastinating has kept me from working on projects that I wasn’t committed to. Sure it would have been better if I had said no in the first place, but sometimes I don’t consciously realize that I don’t want to or shouldn’t be doing something. Procrastinating has also lessened my workload. Many times I have put off doing something only to discover that it didn’t need to be done or someone else did it. Procrastinating on purchases has saved me money as well. I buy a tiny fraction of things I add to my wish list on Amazon. I allow the desire of the moment to cool. Mark Forster’s Do It Tomorrow is contrary to the advice not to procrastinate with excellent results.

Procrastinating isn’t always a bad thing and can actually help me get more done.

#4 Delegate anything you’re not good at.

I can appreciate the thought behind this advice and sometimes it really does help you get more done. But most of the time it keeps me from accomplishing what I want.

I’m someone whose energy and achievement are directly tied to being challenged. I would rather delegate many things I AM good at, because they’re boring and tedious. Things I’m not good at inspire me. I want to learn how to do them so I can get more done. A second problem I’ve found with delegating things I’m not good at is I lose control. My productivity slows down on specific projects as I wait for the delegated work to be done. I can also be taken advantage of by people who know more than I do, because they can tell me how long something will take and how much it will cost and I won’t know any better.

While delegating is the right choice in some circumstances, I’ve found that much of the time I shouldn’t delegate what I’m not good at.

#5 Don’t change systems frequently.

The typical advice is to find one approach to managing your tasks and stick with it. Fiddling with your system just wastes time, the gurus say. But as someone who intentionally changed systems nearly every week during A Year of Living Productively, I learned that doing the opposite has been very effective for me.

Looking back at the times I’ve changed approaches to tasks, one thing is clear: I didn’t make changes during times of high productivity. Instead, I made these changes when my productivity and motivation were low. I would read a new book, try a new app, or scour the Internet for a new way of thinking about work and BAM, my productivity would dramatically increase. I got out of bed excited to use my new system and found myself getting twice as much done.

Rather than being a means of wasting time, changing systems has been a consistently effective way for me to get more done.

How about you? Do you do the opposite of the standard advice with good results?

I share more contrarian principles in A Rebel’s Guide to Productivity.

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Can Working Without a To-Do List Help You Get More Done?

Can Working Without a To-Do List Help You Get More Done?

GTD, to do lists, productivityThis is Week 45 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether going without a list for all but the tasks that I would otherwise forget, which were added to Google Calendar, could help me get more done. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for more on the concept.

How Working Without a To-Do List Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Gave me true free time. Because I didn’t even really know what I was supposed to be doing (besides the obvious), I felt free to play games with my kids. Even my oldest asked me to play video games with him and shockingly enough, I said yes. I think they saw me wandering aimlessly and didn’t want to miss an opportunity.
  • Helped me realize how few things are crucial. I didn’t do many of the things I fully intended to do (make homemade gifts and goodies, for example). I’m astonished to report that the world didn’t come to an end.
  • I took care of more things in the moment. There was no option to “do it later,” so much of the time if I thought about doing something, I just did it.

How Working Without a To-Do List Made Me Crazy This Week

  • I felt depressed. I was suffering from burnout last week, but having a discreet list of things to do was helpful in that regard. This week, I noticed I had no interest in recreational activities. Perhaps the feeling was coincidental with the weather, my health, and other circumstances, however.
  • I felt lost. I wasn’t interested in processing my email because I knew I couldn’t add any of them to a task list. When I thought of something I wanted or needed to do, it drove me nuts not to add it to my ToDoist list.
  • I didn’t get much done. Because I wasn’t working from a to-do list, I seemed to shift into vacation mode. I thought it was funny when I caught myself thinking, “I’ll do this next week when I can be done with this silly no-list experiment.” I got the critical things done and spent some enjoyable down time with my kids, but that was really about it.

Did Working Without a To-Do List Help Me Get More Done?

No.  And I’m really surprised. Years ago when I did this, my conclusion was just the opposite. Breaking free of a traditional to-do list then helped me find the want-to in my work.

One of the things that is different this time is I already have the want-to. I can’t wait to get back to my To-Doist Little and Often approach. I really prefer putting most tasks off until tomorrow so I can work them efficiently (similar tasks together). I love having a true deadline of 3 days past due to motivate me to take some action. The problem that I ran into is the approach works TOO WELL at motivating me. I found myself working longer and longer hours to move tasks along so they wouldn’t get deleted. The point of the impending deletion of tasks isn’t to expand work hours, but to eliminate tasks from your list that you either don’t have time for or are putting off. My solution from here on out will be to stop working at 9 p.m. Anything not done by then that is 3 days past due is gone. I’ll regain my evening free time and have a more realistic to-do list.

**UPDATE**

Although there was a time in my life when working without a to-do list worked beautifully for me, it no longer does. I suspect that is because so many of my to-do’s are related to email now. I could just leave them in my inbox and work with them by memory, but I have more peace of mind when I process my emails using ToDoist for Gmail.

delegating, productivity, GTD, organized

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 46 & What to Expect

This week I’ll be testing delegating. I will finish a month-long test of delegating work by training my children to do more and asking my husband to share some of the responsibilities he is open to sharing.

The concept. You don’t have to be into traditional productivity stuff to understand the need to delegate. The importance of delegating is preached to the office worker and homeschool mom alike. I read Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Work Week years ago. Moms NEVER work 4-hour weeks. Sorry, Tim. I will admit to fantasizing about having a virtual assistant though. Having someone order my groceries that would be delivered to my door? Divine. Someone to research material for my latest book project? Fab. More recently, the idea of having a social media person is even more appealing!

But I have  never breathed a word of my fantasy to my practical husband who would have a very good laugh over it. Considering how much money I do NOT make from my extra-familial pursuits, I couldn’t justify hiring anyone. But the older my children have gotten, the more I’ve come to understand that I have a whole staff of people I can “hire” to help me. Don’t get me wrong. My children already do chores. It’s just that I don’t often think of them as an extra resource for getting things done. Why? It’s time-consuming. And that’s what makes training kids very similar to delegating work in a traditional work environment. All delegating takes time and when you’re already in a rush, it’s easy to procrastinate on delegating.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Decide who you could delegate to. It could be a paid helper, family member, or colleague. Get your helper to buy in. What advantages are there to your family for pitching in? Discuss those. Could you trade jobs with someone? Then every time you start doing something that you know you should delegate, either start training them or plan to train them as soon as possible. You’re unlikely to have results after just a week, so this may be a longer term proposition.

To find out how delegating worked for me, click here.

What can you expect from Psychowith6 in the coming weeks?

I will report on my results with delegating next week. I will also announce a multi-week test of something I’m very excited about. In the Christmas spirit, I won’t tell you what it is until then. 🙂 While I am devoting time to that test, I will continue to rely on delegation by having some superb bloggers guest post on some productivity topics I haven’t been able to address in this series. Thank you for making this such a rewarding process for me. You’re the best!

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s

7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

Week 32: The 12 Week Year

Week 33: David Seah’s Ten for Ten

Week 34: David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner

Week 35: Steve Kamb’s Do It Now

Week 36: Rising Early

Week 37: Computer Shortcuts

Week 38: Interrupter’s Log

Week 39: Project Management

Week 40: Little and Often

Week 41: Problem Solving Approach

Week 42: Inbox Zero

Week 43: Resistance List

Week 44: Time Tracking

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Can Time Tracking Help You Get More Done?

Can Time Tracking Help You Get More Done?

time tracking, get organized, productivityThis is Week 44 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether time tracking could help me get more done, although I did more routine tracking than true time. Scroll to the end of last week’s post for an explanation.

How Time Tracking Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Helped me recognize I am trying to do too much. In my excitement about becoming more and more efficient, I started trying to structure more and more of my time. I wasn’t actually doing most of my planned routine, so it was too much.
  • Demonstrated how variable my days are. One of the frustrations in creating a schedule or routine is the interruptions to the usual. The past two weeks have been very unusual. If I am going to expect to “stay on schedule,” I will be nothing but frustrated. Good to know so I won’t be perfectionistic about my routine.

How Time Tracking Made Me Crazy This Week

  • I resisted it. As I deleted more and more of my routine because I wasn’t actually using it, I resisted even tracking my routine. I knew it would be more of the same the second week: funerals, holiday events, and weather-related schedule changes that wouldn’t be the case next week. I wondered why I should even waste my time writing it down.
  • I rebelled. I not only resisted tracking my schedule after a while, but I stopped doing routine things that actually work for me. I think I’ve reached my limit on maximizing my time. I just want to have time to do whatever I feel like doing even if it’s not “moving me forward” or making me more “productive.”

Did Time Tracking Help Me Get More Done?

Heavens no!  I finished some big, time-consuming projects, but otherwise did less than ever this week. I don’t think that means time tracking is useless. I do wonder if I really need to formally track my time. It might have worked much better to just observe when I tend to do certain activities and give myself permission to do them then. Scheduling them gave my inner rebel fits: too many rules. The other problem I have had is burnout. I have been working really hard lately. I don’t want to be told what to do constantly, even by myself. I’ve recognized for a long time that the best reward for me is a day that I am free to use as I wish. I am very structured for school because it works. But apart from that, I’d like less structure, thank you.

**UPDATE**

I still don’t like time tracking. It’s too legalistic and gets my resistance going. I know when I’m slacking. It works better for me to schedule lots of free time into my day and week.

Can working without a to-do list make you more productive?

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 45

This week I’ll be testing No List. I will only refer to a list of tasks that are urgent that I would otherwise forget to do. All other lists will be abandoned this week.

The concept. Those of you who have known me from Mark Forster’s forum or have read my productivity posts for a while will remember that I have used this approach in the past. I had just come off a very difficult time in my life and I needed the peace of having no list. For list lovers, it sounds like anything BUT peaceful. It was what I needed at the time, however, and I’m surprised to say I feel I need it again.

I’m always pursuing excellence. That’s a good thing if at the same time I recognize that I’m excellent just as I am. Practically speaking, I tend to think more is always better. If I write a blog post that does well, I need to write more of them. If I’m doing well on Pinterest, I need to pick it up on Google+. These things can become–not just nice goals to aim for–but must-do’s. Whereas some people find themselves constantly putting out fires and never pursuing the bigger dreams, I tend to label multiple goals and the day-to-day must do’s “fires.” Thus, I experience burnout.

I want to get a balanced perspective by only looking at the true must-do’s and trusting my instincts about everything else that should be done. If you are wondering if I’ve given up on Little and Often, I haven’t at all. I’ve discovered a problem with it that I will address with you at a later date, however.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read this post where I describe my use of my no list. Decide on a way of keeping track of your must-do, must-list-or-you’ll-forget tasks. I’m going to add mine to Google Calendar. Simple, simple. If you’re interested in knowing my plans for A Year of Living Productively for the end of year, be sure to read next week!

To see how working without a to-do list worked for me, click here.

Does the idea of going list-free freak you out?

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s

7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

Week 32: The 12 Week Year

Week 33: David Seah’s Ten for Ten

Week 34: David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner

Week 35: Steve Kamb’s Do It Now

Week 36: Rising Early

Week 37: Computer Shortcuts

Week 38: Interrupter’s Log

Week 39: Project Management

Week 40: Little and Often

Week 41: Problem Solving Approach

Week 42: Inbox Zero

Week 43: Resistance List

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Can Little and Often Help You Get More Done?

Can Little and Often Help You Get More Done?

GTD, Mark Forster, DITThis is Week 40 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether Mark Forster’s concept of Little and Often could help me get more done. I used this concept in conjunction with Do it Tomorrow and Routines, deleting tasks more than 3 days past due.

How Little & Often Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Enabled me to finish projects I’d put off . I cleared my backlog of a project I’ve felt guilty about not doing for over a year. Where the Guilt Hour failed, Little and Often succeeded. There’s something about having to do the smallest thing to move a project forward that works like magic on my procrastination.
  • Prevented future overwhelm. I’m amazed by how many things I finished well ahead of time that normally came down to the wire. As I keep moving projects forward little by little, well before they are due, I know my stress level will remain low into the future.
  • Helped me establish new habits. I learned I was avoiding some of my routine tasks (especially in the evening), because I felt they had to be done completely or perfectly to count. This week, I gave myself a gold star on my HomeRoutines app if I did anything at all toward that task. The great thing is, of course, that once I started, I usually did more than one little thing. The big surprise for me is that all of these benefits made me feel better about my time usage and put me in a great mood.

How Little & Often Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Uncertainty about deleting tasks. I wasn’t completely sure how I would handle deleting (and reinstating) routine tasks when I hadn’t done them in 3 days. I didn’t know if I missed a daily chore if I had to spend three times as much time on it or if doing it once out of the three days counted. Not knowing made me anxious. I ended up failing to do any of the special chores I have assigned to Saturdays before they were more than three days overdue. I deleted them. But then I wondered what to do with them? I decided that as long as I have done a daily chore at least once within that 3 day overdue time frame, it can stay on my list. Special chores assigned to a certain day can be reassigned to the day you actually move them forward. This rule will apply to tasks deleted from my ToDoist list. If a task gets deleted, I can add it to tomorrow’s list if I do at least something on it today (which I will have to do just by remembering to do it). If I work on my deleted Saturday tasks on Sunday, I can add them to that days’ list. My rationale is that this will add tasks to the list on days when they are most likely to be done. Further, taking action should be rewarded by allowing a project to be added back to the list.
  • Can feel scattered. A little and often approach means I am juggling lots and lots of balls. Sometimes that felt a little scary. I kept waiting for something to fall. It didn’t. While I didn’t get to spend as much time focused on singular pursuits, for my lifestyle, this is a benefit. I don’t have just one hobby with a very defined job. Little and often in that situation could be quite crazy-making. But if that were my lifestyle, I wouldn’t be doing this series!

Did Little and Often Help Me Get More Done?

YES! Of all the approaches I’ve tested so far, this one has made the most significant impact on my productivity. What’s more, I love it. Applying little and often to my routine tasks has helped me get control of that aspect of my life, too. When I start to expect too much of myself, deleting tasks seems capable of keeping my life in balance. I get up every day excited to see what I need to do to move things forward and keep projects from the chopping block.

problem solving approach, GTDThe Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 41

This week I’ll be testing a problem-solving approach. I’ll primarily use Scott Young’s idea of writing to solve personal problems. If that doesn’t work, I’ll work through Mind Tools’ productive thinking model.

The concept. We all have unique problems to solve with respect to our productivity. Unless those specific issues are addressed, changing apps or to-do lists are unlikely to succeed in improving your time management. In fact, much of our time is wasted pondering these problems, which may have little to do with work itself. If we have a relationship problem, we may keep rereading the same paragraphs over and over as we fixate on what so-and-so said. If unrealistic demands are being made of you, using Google Calendar won’t fix things right up.

Using a problem-solving approach takes it out of the realm of the personal and the emotional. When I was in practice, I often had my clients write down everything that was bothering them. Adjacent to each problem, I would have them write down a potential action to take. Even if no action was taken, the process of writing out the problems often freed my clients up from related anxiety. My approach was similar to Scott Young’s, except he advises us to write until we feel like we have a solution. MindTools, on the other hand, would have us treat problems in a very objective way. One of the most helpful steps in their process is to get input from others. Problems that seem impossible to solve because of our connection to them, may offer easy solutions to others.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Keep track of personal and professional problems you are having. Take Scott Young’s approach and write about them until you feel like you have an answer. As a Christian, I prefer to combine this process with prayer. If you are still struggling, work through Mind Tools’ steps, taking advantage of many of the helps they offer. If you’d like a fresh perspective on the area where you’re struggling, feel free to comment here, on the Facebook Page, or on Google+, referencing me with +Melanie Wilson. I’ll be looking for advice for areas I feel stuck  in as well.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

Week 32: The 12 Week Year

Week 33: David Seah’s Ten for Ten

Week 34: David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner

Week 35: Steve Kamb’s Do It Now

Week 36: Rising Early

Week 37: Computer Shortcuts

Week 38: Interrupter’s Log

Week 39: Project Management

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Can Project Management Help You Get More Done?

Can Project Management Help You Get More Done?

Enjoy a Saner Christmas This YearThis is Week 39 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether a project management approach, specifically the Christmas Countdown Planner, could help me get more done. For details, scroll to the bottom of last week’s post.

How a Project Management Approach Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Helped me feel in control. Just getting started on my Christmas planning relieved stress. I even enjoying talking with the kids about what they’d like to eat over the holidays. In the past, it was a rushed process with little input from them.
  • Will save time. I haven’t had a chance to put it into practice yet, but I do a lot of online shopping on Black Friday (beginning Thanksgiving night). I realized I can use one of the forms in the planner to plan my online shopping. I will make note of the must-visit websites, the items I want (with prices in case I find a better deal) and discount codes. I’m surprised I’ve never done this before, but again, I didn’t approach Christmas as a project before now.
  • Excellent memory aid. One of the reasons I haven’t used a project approach for Christmas is because I think I can remember everything. Well, I can’t! I’m really looking forward to next Christmas with these forms because I’ll remember what gifts I gave, how many strands of lights I need, and what activities we want to be sure and include.

How a Project Management Approach Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Focusing on the forms. When I focused on the details of the planner that I would change, it kept me from enjoying its benefits. No planner is perfect for you, but most can be modified to serve you. The great thing about a digital planner is you can leave off pages you don’t need and print extras of those you need more of. If you realize you need a form that isn’t there, make one!

Did a Project Management Approach Help Me Get More Done?

Yes, though the real benefits of it have yet to be realized. Planning ahead and keeping necessary information and materials together has been helping me get more done with blogging, too.

**UPDATE**

I do use project management for curriculum writing and blogging and I like it. However, I do most of my work using one system –ToDoist and Skedpal.

can little and often help you get more done?, time management, organized, productivityThe Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 40

This week I’ll be testing little and often, as espoused by Mark Forster. I’ll be combining little and often with another of Mark Forster’s approaches I’ve tested previously: Do it Tomorrow. Every incoming task (that doesn’t already have an assigned day for completion) will be given a due date of “tomorrow.” When I do anything to move a task along, but it isn’t completed, it will be redated for the following day. Furthermore, I’ll be applying little and often to my routine tasks, too.

The concept. I was first exposed to little and often when Mark created the rules for Autofocus (AF). The idea was to write down everything you wanted to do, including recreational tasks. Scanning the list, you worked on the first task that stood out to you for as long as you wanted and kept working on a page until nothing stood out. Tasks that were worked on, even a little, were crossed off and re-entered at the end of the list. Pages had to be worked on in order. When you came to a page where nothing stood out, the whole thing was “dismissed.” The problem I had with the system (though I really enjoyed it) is my list became enormous. It was taking me many days to get through the whole list to the recent tasks that really needed to be addressed. (Note that several iterations of Autofocus were created to deal with this issue).

Little and often, regardless of implementation, has the potential to overcome the fear and perfectionism that create procrastination. Example: For some reason, I hate snail mailing things. If all I have to do is get an envelope, look up an address, find a stamp, or put something in my car to go to the post office, I can get myself to do it. Often, I will do more, but even if I don’t, the next time I come to this task, it’s easier to do because I’ve already started.

Little and often is also designed to help you get projects done early. That being the case, even projects which aren’t due for a few months should be added to the list to start on tomorrow. If you have a task or project that doesn’t make sense to begin immediately or that you aren’t sure you want or need to do, this can be added to a Someday/Maybe list that can be reviewed weekly. Alternately, a tickler or future review due date could be added to these items. I am currently using SmartPad for this purpose.

Explanation of the DIT/AF Approach (Scroll down if you just want to get to this week’s assignment)

My approach, which is very much a hybrid of DIT and AF, has the advantage of not letting the list become too big. Current items (typically being those that were entered yesterday) can be worked on at any time during the day. The pressure to get things worked on before they are more than 3 days overdue gives enough grace time to allow for “busy days,” with a consequence for not working on them that is entirely appropriate: tasks that you haven’t touched at all in that period of time get deleted from the list. I don’t allow myself to add these tasks back to the list, so that I have to rely on memory only. If I have a planned absence, it’s my responsibility to make sure I will have no tasks more than 3 days overdue on that day. If I were ill or unexpectedly detained for a day or two, I would put off deleting tasks for that period of time.

I have already been using this approach for a number of weeks and want to apply little and often to one of the problems with it that has cropped up. My DIT / AF approach focuses my attention on the tasks appearing on my ToDoist list, leaving routine tasks that I keep in my HomeRoutines app (mostly cleaning tasks) neglected. I have determined some reasons for this. First, there is no “do or delete” deadline for routine tasks and there should be. Going three days without completing my routine means that I need to delete something from it, because I obviously can’t keep up with it. Second, I need to apply the same little and often principle to routine tasks. Rather than having to clean my whole bathroom on Monday to mark it complete, I just need to do something.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read Mark Forster’s explanation of Little and Often. You could choose to complete his assignment which is to choose the project with the furthest deadline and begin working on it little and often every day. Or, you could try my approach of giving everything a deadline of tomorrow and working on each task or project to completion or using little and often as desired. If you try this approach and also deleting items more than 3 days overdue, I’d love to hear how you get on with it.

To see if little and often worked for me, click here.

Are you on Google+? Circle me here. I also participate in Mark Forster’s General Forum.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

Week 32: The 12 Week Year

Week 33: David Seah’s Ten for Ten

Week 34: David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner

Week 35: Steve Kamb’s Do It Now

Week 36: Rising Early

Week 37: Computer Shortcuts

Week 38: Interrupter’s Log

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