This is Week 10 of a Year of Living Productively
This week I tested several of the principles outlined in the Time Warrior by Steve Chandler. Specifically, I focused my thoughts on the present task and used action to prevent procrastination. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for details.
How the Time Warrior Saved My Sanity This Week
- Reinforced the power of action. There were a number of times I found myself sitting and stewing about something. My usual m.o. when I have a problem is to think about it, Google it, and talk about it. You can imagine how low my productivity is when I’m in this mode. There’s nothing wrong with problem-solving, but taking action is much better for my mood and certainly better for my productivity. I wish I could say I was batting a thousand in this area this week, but I can at least say I spent less time mulling things over and more time doing things.
- Helped me recognize the role of thinking in productivity. I had a challenging week physically and emotionally, but I got to experience the huge impact my thinking has on my ability to get things done. The less I do, the worse I feel. The more I think about my problems, the less I do. I’ve known this truth for a long time, but this week reinforced the lesson.
How the Time Warrior Made Me Crazy This Week
- Not a fun new technique. The nine previous weeks, I had something new to do. This week I just had something new to think. While I think this cognitive strategy has more potential to improve my productivity than anything else I will try, it’s not the most motivating initially.
- Not well physically. I’ve been battling fatigue, making this a very difficult week to work on my productivity. However, it’s probably the ideal test for me.
Did the Time Warrior Help Me Get More Done?
Yes. Did I have one of my most productive weeks yet? No. But I got more done this week by far than if I had not been focusing on taking action and adopting a present focus. I believe that with time, this attitude has great potential to improve my productivity.
While I honestly never think of the Time Warrior book per se, the truth of accomplishment being the best cure for malaise has become entrenched in my thinking.
The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 11
This week I’ll be using the principle of scheduling my tasks. I’ll be using the SmartPad and SmartDayPro apps to implement it.
The concept. Research is convincing that deciding when you’ll do something dramatically increases the likelihood that you’ll do it. However, the problem with the studies is usually they’re examining the likelihood of subjects doing a task or two. People like you and I would be scheduling multiple tasks. So does the benefit of allocating a time for them disappear? We’ll see.
There’s another potential benefit of scheduling multiple tasks, however. Scheduling requires an estimate of time needed that is used to determine how many tasks can be completed on a given day. The pie-in-the-sky productivity hopes of people like yours truly disappear when confronted with the cold, hard truth of a schedule. Difficult decisions about what won’t be done today can be made with the added inspiration of realizing that not even the scheduled tasks can be completed if you indulge in an extended web vacation. I know I’m not the only one who takes them! The iOS apps from Left Coast Logic automatically squeeze your tasks into your schedule (though you can easily rearrange them). The red line that moves through your agenda along with the clock, eliminating potential tasks when others aren’t completed on time, is very motivating.
If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Determine a method of scheduling each day’s tasks. You could use a paper or digital calendar or an app like SmartTimePro. Scheduling should be done daily to accommodate changes that come up. Estimate how much time each task will take. I like to over-estimate, doubling estimates that are less than an hour. Be sure your appointments and breaks are on the calendar (keeping your working hours in mind), then add your tasks to the schedule. Refer to the schedule throughout the day as you work.
Click here to see how my week of scheduling with SmartPad went.
If you’ve tried Time Warrior principles to increase your productivity, please vote in the poll below.
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
One of my hobbies is trying new applications to make life easier, more productive, or just more fun. These ten applications have been added to by productivity arsenal in recent weeks.
- ActiveInbox You may recall my love affair with Goodtodo. The Goodtodo website and accompanying iPhone app helped me get to inbox zero and stay there. There was only one thing I didn’t like about it and that is that it isn’t fully integrated with Gmail, my email client of choice. In other words, while I could forward emails into Goodtodo (and that’s the point), I often had to go back into Gmail to access emails with lots of links, as these aren’t clickable in Goodtodo. I had heard of ActiveInbox before, but was put off by the Getting Things Done moniker. I don’t use every aspect of the GTD approach. What I didn’t realize is that ActiveInbox does everything that Goodtodo does and more. While it’s not meant to be your primary task manager, that’s exactly how I’m using it and I love it. I have the paid version and feel it’s worth every penny.
2. Springpad Everyone knows Evernote and lots of people love it. I liked it, too, but had a particular frustration. I didn’t like that I couldn’t make a checklist that I could easily rearrange or easily make a note that was a task to complete. Springpad does that and more. The user interface is much more appealing to me as well.
3. SmartPad Even though I have my tasks neatly organized in ActiveInbox, I have days when I don’t know how I’m going to fit it all in. One app I love to use in that situation is SmartPad. This iPad app tells you how much you can get done given your schedule and time you have to work. If you dawdle, you can watch the tasks you hoped to accomplish fade from possibility. SmartPad will soon integrate with a SmartDay website which will make the app even more user friendly.
4. Final Version – Wunderlist The man pictured above is not an app, but Mark Forster, who comes up with a new productivity approach every few months. As long as you don’t think of the “Final Version” as the be-all-end-all, but rather as a fun way to gamify your task list, you might enjoy it. I like to use it when I am feeling unmotivated and then Wunderlist is the iPhone app I use. As you tap the stars to indicate that this is a task you prefer to do before the last starred task, the items are put in order at the top of the list for you to begin working on.
5. Clear This is another iPhone app that works for doing the Final Version or just as a great list app. The beauty of it is its simple, clean interface. To make an item a priority, move it up on the list and it’s in the red zone. To add an item between items, simply spread your fingers apart to make room for the new one. If you just want a simple means of organizing tasks in terms or priority, Clear is a great option.
6. Schedule Planner Pro Research shows that we accomplish more of the tasks we schedule. This iPhone app not only allows you to schedule your tasks, but compare what you actually did with what you planned. It’s not perfect, but I love the concept and will use the app when I am working on schedule discipline.
7. Task Current I think of the Task Current iPhone app as a Fun To Do list that I can use to inspire me or even as a reward for doing less-than-fun to do’s.
8. Fitocracy Fitocracy is a seriously addictive website/iPhone app for people like me who thrive on compliments. This diverse community will make you feel like a million bucks for completing your workout, whether you’re a seasoned exerciser or just getting started. There are groups for Christians, but I’ve found the whole community to be very supportive. I was doing squat thrusts at 11:00 p.m. just to finish a “quest” and earn the approval of my fellow fitocrats. What on earth?
9. Daily Feats In case you were wishing there was a pat-on-the-back app for things like housework and parenting, I have good news. Daily Feats gives you points, social approval, and even tangible rewards for doing tasks related to your goals. While company reps are often giving out what are called “props” and sharing links to their products, I’ve found it to be welcome as the products are appropriate to my goals.
10. 750 words Are you a writer who wishes there was a social gaming app to help you get writing done? There is! Earn points for logging 750 words into this writers’ website and compare yourself to others with writing muscle.
What new apps have you found for getting things done?