Weekly Links for 30th of May

A weekly collection of posts and articles about productivity, time management, tools and technology.

 

  1. Druckversion – SPIEGEL Interview with Umberto Eco: ‘We Like Lists Because We Don’t Want to Die’
  2. Top 10 Characteristics of GREAT Project Managers :: Tips :: The 99 Percent
  3. How To Encrypt Evernote Notes/Files | Password Protect Evernote Notes
  4. Death, taxes, and now, lack of privacy
  5. Daniel H Pink: employees are faster and more creative when solving other people’s problems
  6. Techno Life Skills

If you have any interesting articles please share them in the comments section.

What to do?

Bike lane split
 

Sometimes it’s nice to be told what to do.  Some people prefer that and choose jobs and professions where there is fixed amount of work and it’s clearly what needs to happen when and how.
These type of jobs are becoming less and less available and popular as we choose freedom of and action.

As knowledge work expands there is no longer a simple system to decide what’s next. At any moment you can do a multiple things. All almost equally important and time pressing. Factory module of working you start with 1 the move to 2 and so on is no longer applicable.  It’s your choice to decide what needs to be done, whether it’s task A or B.
You need to know what’s important, what’s more valuable, what are the time limits to get the job done.

There are couple ways of how to decide what to do next.
First you can go with your gut feeling. Look at the items on your list and just pick one that’s most attractive. It’s is your decision to figure out what’s most attractive is, maybe it’s the easiest one, maybe it’s the most mentally challenging etc.

If you want more structured approach you can try GTD 4 criteria model for deciding your work. This model focuses on analysing tasks from four perspectives which  in turn should tell you what is the task you realistically can do.

  • context – defines a place or tools necessary to complete a task. If your are running errands your focus will be on shopping list, if you are sitting next to a phone then you can review your @calls list. Consequently if you are in a plane or commuting there is no point look at your @office list because you’re not there.
  • time – every once days are combination of meetings, conference calls and discretionary time. Deciding on the next action you need to look at the time available before next scheduled event. There is no point in starting a task that will take you a hour to complete if all you have is just a twenty minutes.
  • energy – through out the day we go through a cycle of high and low brain activity, the events of the day will also impact your ability to concentrate and perform. As result there is only so much you can effectively do in one day with out proper re-charge. At times you might be totally drained out of energy after a long day off meetings so you will not be willing to look at anything more than low value, easy tasks just to finish the day.
  • priority – the remaining criterion used when assessing the choice of the next actions is priority. It comes last on the list as it’s depends on the other current context your in and available time and energy. This is very relative and subjective category.  The key question is given all the goals, projects, responsibilities what  is the one thing which accomplished will make you feel good about the day.

There are multiple ways of incorporating these criteria into your productivity system. One way to do it is to define some generic time and energy slots and apply them to your tasks. If you use application like Remember the Milk or similar one you can tag your tasks by adding expected duration like 15min, 30min, required energy high ,low, context and priority etc.

A simpler way is do the assessment just as you go through your list.

Next time when you’re stuck and not sure what to do check how much time do you have what’s your context and energy level and pick a task that you can complete.

Do you have any system helping you decide your next action? I would love to hear about it.

Photo by: Jason McHuff

Weekly Links for 23rd of May

A weekly collection of posts and articles about productivity, time management, tools and technology.

If you have any interesting articles please share them in the comments section.

Key Lists

Here's my new Behance stickers in action - freeform notes on the tight, tasks on the left.

 

If you’re into productivity you most likely have a list, probably there is more than one list. You may have action lists, things to do at some point, lists of ideas for holidays, books, movies, music. But with setting up dozens and dozens of list it comes a cost of maintaining them, keeping up to date and relevant.

At some point you realise that there is only a handful of list that you use always.

For me there are three lists like that:

  • @projects – to keep a record of my open projects.
  • @actions – to stay on top of my task and to-do.
  • @waiting – to keep track of things I should receive or people to get back to me.

There are times when I consider dividing these lists and expanding in subset but that never works out very well.

Focusing on keeping these lists in check provides me with biggest payoff so making any changes is like fixing something that’s not broken.

Do you have any key list? Are there any that you can’t live with out?

 

photo Flickr by Al Abut

Weekly links for 16th of May

A collection of posts and articles about productivity, time management, tools and technology.

  1. Organize Your Business – chrisbrogan.com 
  2. 40 Excellent Web Apps Every Freelance Designer Should Use
  3. Rules for SuperFocus – Blog – Get Everything Done
  4. The Elusive Inventory of Your Projects – James Fallows – Business – The Atlantic
  5. Let the empty heads lead « Leadership Freak

If you have any interesting articles please share them in the comments section.

Guest Post: How to accomplish any project

Note: This is a guest post by Ivan Hernadez

 

Everything you do in life is a project. Everything!

Taking care of your bills? … project
Going on holidays? … project
Any deal with your Clients? … project
All the work-related stuff you do at the office? … project
Your career? … project

E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G

So … I suggest you to get (very) good at managing and accomplishing projects.

Here below is a brief and simple explanation of what I have learned from people such as Seth Godin, Tom Peters, Scott Belsky and others.

How to accomplish any project

  1. Set the deadline, or in other words the “D-Day”.

    "How to accomplish any project"

  2. Once you have the deadline established, identify all the important things that must be done in order to be able to accomplish the big/scary/challenging project on “D-Day”. Then break-down the big/scary/challenging project into smaller chunks containing all those critical actions that must be done and set milestones.

    "How to accomplish any project"

  3. Now that you have your milestones established, you don’t need to worry about having to deal with a big/scary/challenging project. You just have to focus on putting all your energy and effort into accomplishing the next milestone.

    "How to accomplish any project"

  4. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    "How to accomplish any project"

  5. On D-Day, regardless of what is the actual status of your progress …. you ship. No last minute extensions, no excuses. You deliver.

    "How to accomplish any project"

  6. Feel good. You are officially an achiever. Now go and get another cool / challenging / scary project.

    "How to accomplish any project"

 

About Ivan: Ivan Hernandez is an entrepreneur, educator, keynote speaker and business consultant. He’s a passionate social media evangelist. You can read his writing on his personal site Ivan Hernadez or follow on twitter @IvanHernandez_.

Weekly links 9th of May

A collection of posts and articles about productivity, time management, tools and technology.

  1. Five Best Time-Tracking via Lifehacker
  2. 10 Awesome Videos On Idea Execution & The Creative Process via The99percent
  3. Being More Productive  via Harvard Business Review
  4. 10 Ways to Stop Multitasking & Be More Effective  via PickTheBrain
  5. Why the 80/20 Rule Could Make You Less Productive via DragosRoua.com

If you have any interesting articles please share them in the comments section.

GTD Jargon Buster

IMG_1119

Getting started with implementing GTD may be a complex thing. There are many phrases and terms to understand and to wrap your head around.

I’ve collected a list of most important GTD terms and included a little description. Hope you will find it useful in your GTD journey.

4 criteria model of work – in order to decide what to do next, GTD proposes a four criteria which should assist in making the most appropriate decision. These include following elements: context- your location, time – available/required to complete the action, energy – required/available to complete the item, priority – importance of the item.

5 stages of workflow – this is a core of the GTD system. To deal with any work, ideas, projects which you have to do Allen proposes a series of steps which will help you get more organized. There are five stages of this process starting with, collecting, processing, followed by organising, review and finished with doing. Each step is a discrete element which assist in maintaining better focus and clarity.

Areas of focus – include some key personal and professional areas for which are responsible for on on-going basis. These areas form a core of your duties. This is designed as reminder to make sure that you’ve captured necessary actions and projects so you can stay on top of your responsibilities.

Context – generally refers to a place where the action can be completed. This could include actual locations like: at shop, at library, at office or an area like at desk, at online, at couch. The number of contexts will vary from person to person and generally should strike a balance between granularity and ease of reference.

Mental RAM – it’s the short term memory of your brain. Your brain has a limited capacity to store information in that space. The more incomplete items you keep in your RAM the more difficult it’s to maintain focus and concentration.

Mind sweep – is a simple exercise which allows you to clear your head. Anytime you can’t focus and you seem to be bombarded with countless of things take piece of paper and jot down all the things you want to deal with.

Natural planning model – designed to help bring more control and clarity into projects. It’s based on the a five stage process which aims at clarifying the purpose and principles, visioning how would the wild success look like, jotting all ideas about the project through brainstorming, organizing those ideas into sequences and slots and finally identifying next actions.

Next action – is a next physical activity that can be completed as part of a project or a stand alone task.  The key element is that it starts with a verb like read, write, call etc.

Project – is any endeavour that takes more than one step to complete. Category of projects can encapsulate things from buying new printer to creating a new division in a company. The main premise for such wide interpretation of project is that this way you will track any item that needs to be finished.

Project support materials – a category of documents which have been collected as part of a project. This can incorporate things like project notes, system documentation, drawings, results of brainstorming sessions, budget calculations, presentations, correspondence, magazines etc.

Ubiquitous capture – an ability to capture ideas, information, thoughts in any place you’re. The aim is to limit the time between the occurrence of the idea and writing it down so that one can continue with the task at hand and keep the head clear.

Someday/maybe – this list is parking lot for any ideas, projects, actions that are not active but you don’t want to loose a track of those. There will be things you’re not sure about or things you would like to do at some later date. Perhaps you have some ideas for gifts for next Christmas. Someday/Maybe list is for all those items.

Trigger list – a list which should assist you in completing a thorough mind sweep. It includes reminders of different areas of your life that you may need to look. Rather than posing specific questions it’s simply a list of phases and words that could spark a thought about something you should look at. It most useful when you’re head is full of chaos and it’s difficult to find a starting point and start clearing it.

Tickler file – it’s a set of 43 folders where you store items which you need to look at or retrieve at some point in the future. It’s a place for all the items you don’t need know but will require later. 12 folders represent each month and 31 folders refer to each day in the current month. The usual content of ticker file includes tickets for upcoming events, bills to pay, leaflets etc.

Weekly review – one of the crucial elements of successful GTD system. Weekly review aims at re-evaluating your situation, it’s a time designed to make sure your system is current and up to date. Weekly review focuses on empting your head, checking your priorities for next week, looking at projects and actions, considering some of the someday items. 

Waiting for – a list designed to track all the items where you’re expecting something to be done by someone else. It can be a letter from insurance company, a response to an email you’ve sent, an item to be returned by a friend.

Weekly Links 2nd May

A collection of posts and articles about productivity, time management, tools and technology.

  1. Guest Post – Managing Content w/ a Dashboard Pt. 1
  2. The Two Types of Procrastination
  3. If It Won’t Fit On A Post-It, It Won’t Fit In Your Day
  4. What Are Your High Value Activities?
  5. How to Harness the Power of Momentum

If you have any interesting articles please share them in the comments section.