I am a lifehacks junkie, which means I am semi-obsessed (ok, actually pretty obsessed) with optimizing daily productivity.
And while I haven’t figured out how to achieve superhuman output all the time, I have accumulated some interesting tips and tricks over the last few years that have helped me avoid panic attacks and meltdowns due to disorganized to-do lists and poor project management. I talk about them in detail below.
Keep a time tracker
Technology used: Evernote
I was heavily inspired by Sebastian Marshall to start keeping a time tracking sheet. The template I use is a modified version of Sebastian’s time tracker sheet. I keep it in a folder on Evernote and copy and paste the template into a new note every morning.
This time tracker lists my daily goals and things to do every morning, during the day, and every evening before I head to bed. It also allows me to list time spent on various activities throughout the day broken down by categories of productive, semi-productive, and non-productive tasks.
To be honest, I rarely use the time tracker to actually track my time. Instead, I use it as a clear blueprint for my daily schedule. This really helps me stick to a routine throughout the day.
Adapt to-do lists to your workflow
Technology used: Evernote and Remember the Milk
The to-do list is the holy grail of productivity, but it is rarely used effectively. Find a way to organize them that really fits your specific workflow. It took me a while to figure out a system that really worked for me, but I finally settled (happily) on a project-based to-do list because I organize everything by projects.
What that means is I hold all my to-do lists in a folder on Evernote, with one note acting as my main to do list and the rest of the notes acting as project-specific to-do lists. My main to-do list contains my main goals, today’s tasks, short-term tasks, long-term tasks, and projects. Most of these categories are self-explanatory except for projects.
For projects, I list all the different projects I am occupied with at the time to measure how spread out I am. Anymore than 8 or 9 projects, and my focus seriously deteriorates. Know your personal limitations.
Whenever I create a task associated with a project, I dump it into the project-specific to-do list. Then when I want to act on a task, I move it into my main note where I do all my execution.
For all errands and non-critical miscellaneous tasks, I add them on to Remember the Milk which I will check occassionally to complete some items.
This system works very well for me because I always work on multiple projects and can’t keep all my project to-do lists in one file without getting overwhelmed.
Get a good night’s sleep
Technology used: None
I learn this lesson the hard way but it is absolutely essential to get your night’s rest to stay fresh. Self-management is key here. It may feel more productive to work a lot all the time, but if you are constantly sleep deprived, your productivity is definitely a lot lower than you think it is.
Start setting hard deadlines in the evening for you to finish your work by, and if you don’t get it done, sleep anyways and do it in the morning. I guarantee you will perform better anyways.
That wraps up my tips and tricks that help me organize my life. How do you organize yours?
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