Finding focus with Remember the Milk

Couple weeks ago I was listening to a Mikes on Mics podcast episode 43 Routines where both Mikes shared their daily routines. I wholeheartedly recommend subscribing to this weekly show. Omnifocus is the key task management tool in their arsenal and it’s supplemented with 2-3 satellite apps and tools which include Asana, 30/30, Clear, Emergent Task Planner by David Seah. They use these tools to generate focus throughout the day by helping to define the tasks that must and should be done in first place.
This got me thinking about my process of setting Most Important Tasks and focusing on the key items using just a single tool.

In search of focus and building clarity

Everyone has a different approach to building focus in their work day. However the underlying goal is to find a way of defining where do you want to put your attention and making sure that you do accomplish the selected items. Whether you call it daily to-do list or defining MITs, setting few tasks that you consider critical helps make progress. Skipping on this and trying to wing it is a sure fire way to burnout and focus on what’s loudest and most recent. This may work for a while but if you really want to create something either at work or at home with out setting attention your aspirations and goal will never materialize.

I think the process of defining MITs is particularly helpful if you’re following the GTD methodology which helps you capture and organise various action and projects into lists. Overtime these list can grow substantially and present you with dozens or hundred of opportunities to choose from.

How to select MIT?

The process of defining MITs or your small daily to-do list can be painful. You need to say “NO” to all other tasks that sit on your lists and say “YES” to a selected few. I don’t think there is any science in deciding what you should focus on. The key is that whatever you decide to select is in line with your aspirations and these can only be defined by you. Being clear on where you want to go can make things easier. Although it’s nothing concrete I have couple criteria that I use in my own process:

  • you can accomplish it in one sitting i.e. 45-60 minutes of focused work
  • the task will progress a specific project or a goal
  • you will feel good about completing the task
  • I get “reminders” from various sources about the task to do i.e. someone mentions something, I see something related on the news etc.

When reviewing your list allow yourself to add only 4-5 items only. This may sound like a small number but if completed daily for a month or a quarter it can amount to sizable chunk of work and noticeable progress. Going after bigger number of tasks can be tricky and set you up for disappointment if you skip on too many items.

My approach

My personal approach to setting daily tasks and MITs is to stick with a single app. As I mentioned here before, Remember the Milk is my tool of choice and I try to make the most out of it. Usually, on daily basis I will review my context lists and select the tasks that I want to accomplish in a given day. Then for each selected task I assign priority level of 1. Once I’ve done that these actions are automatically added to my @MIT list in Remember the Milk. The list is a so called smart list which is updated dynamically so any time I flag an item as priority 1 it get added to my @MIT list. This is a very efficient way of allocating items and putting them on the right list with out a hassle of dragging thing around.

If you are interested this is the search syntax I’m using to generate this list and make sure it auto updates.

priority:1 and status:incomplete or due:today or dueBefore:today and status:incomplete

You will notice that list also pull up item that have due date set to today. This is intentional so that I can see what I’m already committed and I don’t put too many items on my plate.

 

For added impact, accountability and ease of reference one of the screens on my Android smartphone has a widget which displays all the important tasks that I should be looking at today.

Note on frequency

Although through out this post I’m referring to a daily to-do list and daily review things are not always that simple. Ideally you want to complete this daily to make sure you take time to reassess and refocus. Yet some weeks are busy with pre-scheduled items that leave very little time for any additional work. In those weeks I treat my list as a weekly focus list. Rather that punish myself for missing on items I will try to accomplish them in a given week depending on available time and energy. Making this allowance helps to keep momentum on those important items even if the time is tight.

Personal Kanban. Visualizing tasks

Sometimes having list isn’t enough. The sheer volume of tasks, actions and projects can be overwhelming almost to the point of paralysis.
Personal Kanban is a very interesting concept that seems to help with this problem. At a high level it helps you divide your work into three categories: to-do, doing, done. The important element of this is to use of board to which the tasks are attached to. This way you can have a nice visual representation of what’s on what’s coming and what’s done.

This look like clever way of introducing a focused approach to dealing with tasks and being overwhelmed.

Personally I haven’t tried it but I’m planning to do so at some point this year. A fellow blogger and academic Pascal Venier is a big fan of combining Kanban and GTD.

For now I wanted to share a link to a presentation Personal Kanban 101.

Ingredients of success. Luck and Skill.

What do you need to be successful?
Many think you just need to be luck. They may be right if all you hope to do, is to hit the jackpot in lotto. Yet if you want to go beyond that and create something lasting luck will not be enough and people will quickly discover what you’re really worth.

Perhaps all you need is skill, a very specific one, mastered to perfection. This may be ok but it will only take you so far, unlikely you will be able to reach beyond your very small and tight niche.

If however you want to go further you will need both, you need skills to master your “thing”, to be best in it and you also need luck i.e. that rare event when you meet someone that needs your skill and that opens new doors for you. Mastering our skill makes it easy to be noticed and picked up what the time’s right.

By mastering the skill you make your own luck, when it comes you’re ready for it and you can deliver.

Cal Newport in his recent blog post shares his observations on this topic based on the career of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s quite interesting story to follow and one worth reading.

Does Luck Matter More Than Skill?

Windows PC toolkit

Over the last few months I’ve been looking at different tools and applications to make my workflow better, to help me create the things that I wanted. I’ve used a myriad of different applications and programs that have similar feature sets. There was a little to and fro between a one tool for everything approach and find a good tool for a specific purpose. In the end I settled somewhere in the middle finding few applications that serve multiple purposes as wells as added few more that I use for specific tasks. There is a considerable amount of writers that are big fans of Mac platform showing off its capabilities, interesting apps etc. Although I would agree that there are some neat solutions moving to Mac platform comes at a considerable premium that has both advantages and disadvantages both financial and other. In effect what I’m hoping to achieve with this post is to show to any Windows user that may envy those tool that Windows platform also has a good selection of programs. They really can help you be more productive, organised and achieve the things you want.

NOTES REFERENCE AND WRITING

Some will frown upon the number of tools in this category after all if you need to write a Notepad app or something similar should be sufficient. Perhaps this is true and it’s some form of flaw however I find that these tools really help me with the things I want to do.

  • Evernote – this is an example of an application that serves multiple purposes. I use it to take notes, keep lists, capture ideas, store web clips, purchase receipts, pdf documents etc. Almost anything that I want to keep for later I store it Evernote. I’ve experimented with plain text as a main tool earlier this year. In the end I decided that having a tool that allows me to keep all my information in a single place is much better choice.
  • WriteMonkey – is an excellent, distraction free writing tool. The reason I use it is that I separate process of capturing ideas (Evernote) from actual writing, also since I write in plain text and use markdown WriteMonkey is perfect for that. There are many more features that I haven’t really touched here making it fantastic writing tool for short pieces like blog posts.
  • ResophNote – as I mentioned I keep my posts in plain text files using markdown. In order to maintain them and keep them searchable I use ResophNotes. It provides a nice front end to all the files that I store in my notes folder, plus it allows me to quickly find some older content, rename files or start a new blog post and finish it off using WriteMonkey.
  • Scrivener – I use this application for more complicated and longer writing projects. In short Scrivener is described as an application for writers, journalist, screen writers etc. It’s a tool that allows you to capture all the ideas, expand on them and organise and publish a finished product. I’ve seen many people swear by it. As I finish my current project you should see the result of it soon

TASK AND TIME MANAGEMENT

Finding a proper task manager i.e. one the I like to use and use it consistently took some time. As many of you I’ve went through a lengthy discovery process. Once I settled on an app I kept at despite few attempts to change it. In the end I realised that the power of task manager came primarily from the information it contained not necessarily the amount of bells and whistles.

  • Remember the Milk – is my task manager of choice. It contains all of my lists of actions, projects and waiting fors. Every item that I want to to-do ends up there. This is the best application I’ve found to manage my GTD implementation that work both on my Windows PC and Android phone and tablet. It’s very powerful and flexible app that will cater to many needs. I wrote about some of it’s features here before.
  • Google Calendar – my tool of choice for managing so called hard landscape i.e. any appointments, day and time specific events end up there. It’s possibly the most powerful calendar application out there that lets you manage your life plus it works on every platform.
  • GMinder – is a neat system tray tool which alerts you of upcoming meetings and events. It connects to Google Calendar and displays all your calendars in one place. It does work when you’re offline unfortunately you won’t be able to add new items in that mode . Great little app that does reminders well.

IDEA MANAGEMENT

Mind mapping is regular activity of mine. I use it to organise thoughts, concepts and ideas. Very often when I’m starting a new project I create a new mind map to essentially dump everything that comes to my mind in relation to the project. There are three applications that I use depending on what I’m trying to achieve or what will I do with output.

  • Freeplane– is my primary mind-mapping application. It’s open source and platform independent tool based on Java that started as an offshoot of Freemind which is a very popular tool. As result of its heritage, Freeplane is very powerful and feature rich but its interface is little bit clunky. I use it primarily because of the number of available features and the fact that it’s using the .mm format which is bit of a standard making files readable by other mind mapping applications. One more compelling reason to stick with this app is the upcoming support for .mm files in Scrivener which means I will be able to draft ideas in Freeplane and then drop them into Scrivener to write the full piece.
  • MindMaple – This app is bit of a sidekick to FreePlane. Two elements that I particularly like and use this app as text import and export. I heavily rely on text files for creating my content so ability to export mind maps into text is very important. MindMaple lets me organise my thoughts and then export them into text for further processing. On top of that mind maps created with it are very nice visually which makes it good presentation tool. What usually happens is that I open up Freemind and start working on the map once I’m happy with it I open MindMaple (as it reads .mm files) and use it to export the content to plain text.
  • UV Outliner – this is an fantastic outlining app that lets me create nice looking hierarchical structures for my projects and ideas. Again I mainly use it at the initial stages of planning or organisation of a project or idea. Once I’m clear on the outcome I usually export it to Evernote which serves as primary project support material repository.

MISCELLANY

This category contains a mix of applications that primarily help me make a more effective use of my Windows laptop, remove unnecessary steps, provide security and piece of mind or allow me to work while away from a computer.

  • PhraseExpress – a tool that completely changed the way I write text. Almost anything that gets typed on regular basis is transformed into a template and stored in the app. The next time I need to type my signature, open a website, type my email or respond to someone I simply type relevant key combination and the text I’ve saved appears on the screen. The functionality goes way beyond text expansion, you can use macros, create forms, etc. I’ve personally scratched surface on it and planning to spend this year exploring it in more depth. There are limitless possibilities bar the size of memory allowing me to remember all the combinations.
  • LibreOffice – this is a free office productivity suite that I mainly use for creating presentations and spreadsheets like my training log. It’s a solid alternative to Microsoft’s product although it is not as polished. Beyond the two mentioned above it provides writing, database, sketching tools too.
  • Dropbox – this is almost a default app for any one using more that one device. For me it works as place to store current projects and items I want to share with other people or make available on phone or tablet. It’s key app where I store drafts of may blog post so that I can work on them using my laptop or smartphone. Also any picture I take as saved to it as well which makes it super easy to pick it up at my laptop and process it. No need to connect using cables and all the hassle. I think this app although fairly widely known definitely deserved a bit more detailed look in a future blog post.
  • Crashplan – primary offsite backup solution for all my files. I find it reliable and very flexible. For those conscious of privacy, you can encrypt all your data using your own key before it’s sent to Crashplan servers. On top of the online backup you can use the application to send files to external hard drive of a family or friend if they also use Crashplan.
  • Orzeszek Timer – from time to time I need to apply Pomodoro technique to kick things off. For that purpose I use Orzeszek Timer which is very small app that lets me set a timer for any time I want using human language. I simply type 25min and the time counts down 25 minutes. Great aid for helping we keep the focus on task at hand.
  • CutePDF – is very little app that lets me print anything into pdf file. So anytime I need to save a copy of an online purchase or bill I simply use CutePDF which is set as my default printer and save pdf file to a folder or Evernote. It definitely helps with maintaining a paperless workflow.

 

Photo Flickr: Florianric

 

Emotional intelligence and productivity

Penelope Trunk knows quite a lot about navigating your career.
Below link as an old blog entry about emotional intelligence that caught my eye mainly because of the reference to productivity.

This was surprising connection, after all being productive for many appears to be a robot like, cold, mechanical. The more you’re organised the more likely you’re to work on making things happen again not really related to emotional intelligence.

Yet there is and I think it’s actually quite strong one. I’ll leave you with this quote and let you head over to Penelope’s blog.

The core of productivity advice, though, is self-knowledge, which is emotional intelligence. You have to know what you want most in order to know what to do first. You have to know your goals before you can productively meet them. And you have to have the self-consciousness to exert a sane, focused self-discipline to your life.

The one skill you need for three key areas of career growth

 

Making the information more useful

There is no shortage of information available. Internet, libraries, journals, social networks all these are full of information. The problem now isn’t the lack of it it’s too much of it.
So to benefit from the information you’ve acquired  you should make it as useful as possible. In below liked post J.D. Meier share some tips on making information useful.

10 Ways to Make Information More Useful

 

Dealing with too many projects

If you follow GTD methodology then most likely you have plenty of projects. After all anything that takes more than 2 steps is a project. Over time this can be overwhelming and your project list becomes unmanageable. There are few things you could do with that.

1.Accept the limits.

You can’t do everything so you need to be careful what you allow into your space. We want to achieve a lot and we certainly can but not all at once. Overtime we will accomplish a lot but in given week we can only do this much. Limit the number of projects you work on only to those you can actually manage. Learn to say no, ask for guidance on priorities, make a good use of someday list and revisit things later.

2.Clean up

Dirt, clutter and overwhelm are result of inertia and leaving things unkept and stale. When your project list looks like that it’s time for a clean up. Remove completed or dead projects. If something has been finished mark it as done. Things have been cancelled, postponed for later. This means you no longer need to look at them. Make sure your project list reflects that. Delete those items. Your list MUST show only those items you’re actually working on this week or month.

3.Re-assess the purpose and end result

Has a project been stuck for weeks and you’ve avoided it like a plaque? Perhaps it’s time to go back to basics. Move away from the tactical level to take a look at the bigger picture. What is the purpose of the project? What do you want to achieve? Spend some time thinking about each and define where you want to get. Make it clear so there is no doubt about the end result.

4.Define the steps

Each project requires few steps to complete. If you haven’t done much about it, think of the necessary elements. Start from the end and work backwards until you get to first step. Then make a list the all the items and add at least one to your next action list. If this got you really excited book some time in your calendar and spend an hour or so working on the project.

5.Look at your priorities

If a project is your priority then why it’s not done? Re-define your priorities or look at them, giving yourself a fresh start. Once you’re clear, pick the first item and put the right amount of focus onto it. Schedule specific time to work on it. Add to your calendar and work on it daily until it’s completed.

6.Leverage reviews

Although, possibly most difficult aspect of GTD, review is one that helps to keep system up to date and working. Don’t skip it and make sure you do one as often as necessary. Once a week or every ten day will generally do but if you find that you constantly lose control do them more often. While doing the review make sure you review your project list. Add, drop or completely delete projects based on your current priorities and obligation. This will help you make sure you are only looking at things that have you focus.

Do you have a way of dealing with too many projects? What’s your best approach.

Big THINGS

Quite often we get caught up in chasing the small things. Ticking off those next actions that don’t lead us very far.  This can be frustrating and disheartening. After all for many people the reason to be more productive, to seek the productivity advice, to adjust their workflows is precisely that to get important things done.
Michael Schechter from Bettermess.com has an excellent series of guest post about that very topic. His guest which include people like David Sparks, Gini DietrichDave Caolo, Sven Fechner, share their failures, experiences, frustrations and advice on making sure that these big things actually get done. This is an excellent series that is continuously updated and absolutely worth reading.

Big Things

23 tips for a Remember the Milk user

Few weeks ago Remember the Milk (RTM) has celebrated 7th year anniversary. I’ve used this web app for almost three years both as free and paid user. I think it’s a good time to look at it again and get a reminder of all the different features available to RTM users that can take the app to the next level. I hope you will find some useful ideas.

  • use a bit better RTM – this browser extension adds three nice features to the web client. First you can drag and drop items between lists, second you can create new static lists straight from the main view, third see the number of tasks in each list – handy for getting a better picture of where you are. I covered this on my blog before.
  • use smart add – is one of the best features of RTM, not only you can add new tasks but you can specify all the necessary meta information like the list it should go to, tags, location, duration, due date etc. If you already know where the tasks goes, smart add greatly reduces time required to manage them. Learning the few special characters is easy and if you use mobile client you can even see handy tip with each character explained. RTM site has a good overview of this.
  • use smart list – are you familiar with smart playlist in you iTunes or other media player? This is the same but done for tasks. Rather than painstakingly move tasks between lists make sure you put relevant attributes to them and then setup a list based on those elements. You want to see all your @home tasks simply type @home into search and then save it as your list. This functionality goes beyond that. If you spend some time understanding the syntax you can create a much more powerful lists based on multiple criteria e.g showing tasks due today and those overdue, showing items with specific context and priority. The number of different combinations is astounding and would fit everyone’s needs. I will be posting bit more about this in near future but you can start on the basics here.
  • use smartphone client – having access to your tasks on the go is an important aspect of staying productive and effective. throughout every week there are unexpected moments of downtime, meetings are cancelled at last-minute, trains are missed etc. These are perfect opportunities to pick up your list and review what’s there. RTM has excellent smartphone apps for both iPhone and Android. They provide offline access to all of your current tasks and lists. Plus if you use location feature they we alert you if you are near the store or other place you have assigned your tasks to.
  • use email to add tasks – when you setup your RTM account you are given two email address where you can send your tasks to. One for adding individual items and one for bulk import. Add them to your contact list so they are handy. If you receive an email that you need to do something about simply send it to RTM and put the task name and corresponding meta information in the subject line. RTM will add it to your task list. To import multiple tasks via email put the list name into subject line and list all your tasks in the message content. Don’t forget to add any tags, due dates and location as they can be added too. Frankly thins is what I did when I use Evernote to manage my project support material. Once my project was ready I would email the note to RTM and have all of my task there.
  • pin in browser – Remember the Milk does not have a native Windows client which I find lacking.  In order to keep easy access to your tasks make sure that the RTM page is always there when you open your browser. One way to do that is to simply pin the RTM tab in your browser so every time you open your laptop and go online the RTM will be one of the default tabs that are launched.
  • learn keyboard shortcuts – using mouse is the default way of pointing object on the screen yet it isn’t most effective. A much better and faster way is to use keyboard shortcuts. Many people know CTRL+C or CTRL+A ect but rarely go beyond that if you learn few additional shortcuts to make respective actions easier it will appear almost magical. Thing will and people will be stunned. Every time you find yourself navigating through menus and icons more than few times check if there is a keyboard for it or create one using Keyboard Maestro or PhraseExpress. Over the course of months you will save hours of menial mouse navigation. A handy list of keyboard shortcuts is here.
  • print weekly plan – this very neat feature lets you see how many tasks you have planned for a week. Although as primary I check the website or rely on mobile reminders to keep on top of my tasks a printed list adds visual representation to my commitments. Often it’s easier and quicker to see what are the commitments and where is the focus. Print the weekly plan, put it somewhere where you can see it and look at it regularly.
  • use locations to power the reminders – unless you have a good habit of referring to your lists you can forget to check that hardware store list that you’ve just left. Remember the Milk mobile client offers you a location-based reminders so once you set a location of your tasks RTM will give you a prompt once you’re in that place. You can set the triggers to act when you’re exactly on the spot or with in few miles making it easy for you to decide if you want to detour to that place. It’s yet another example how technology can help offload remembering things and free up that space for more important items.
  • share or publish your list (only for a fixed list) – we rarely live is social vacuum and more often than not we work with other people whether they are co-workers or wife  husband, kids etc. If you have items that you want them to-do you can easily share the list or sent it via email then simply track the completion. Sharing works best if both people use RTM but if they don’t you can’t provide email them tasks or provide a link for reference. This feature is perfect for maintaining agenda lists with family and co-workers so they know what are you expecting them to do.
  • add to your Google calendar – in GTD methodology calendar is primary tool to track time and day fixed commitments like meeting, flights, dinners etc. It’s the so called hard landscape. Each day comprises of those fixed commitments but there are times when you have and opening and can focus on anything. This is a perfect opportunity to look at you some of your task. Integrating Remember the Milk you not only can see on your calendar tasks that you planned for but also jump to your master list and pick something else to do.
  • sync with Outlook – Microsoft Outlook is a corporate standard yet if you’re allowed to use RTM for task management you can use MilkSync to merge the two together and access your home task at work and your work tasks at home. You can also use Outlook as a front end for your RTM account to keep both cloud and local copies of your tasks.
  • use twitter to interact with tasks – a tweet that you just read reminded you of something to do? Great you can add a task to your RTM task list simply by typing a tweet. Link your twiter account, then send a direct message to “@rtm” and press sent. Remember to include smart tags like @ # or !. New item will appear shortly on you list together with relevant details.
  • use RSS feed – to make something more with your tasks, leverage Yahoo Pipes or IFTTT to create additional interactions and automation. Not sure what that means have a look at the RTM forums for ideas and inspiration.
  • use a desktop app – if you don’t like to work in the web interface and use Mac or Linux you can try one of the few available desktop apps. These provide offline access as well as local backup of you tasks. You can take a look at list of apps. Unfortunately Windows users are out of luck at this point.
  • use notes to store extra info – for best results task should start with a verb and include necessary detail like “call Bob 12345678”. This way you can see the action and relevant information necessary to complete it i.e. the phone number. Sometimes however putting this extra details is not feasible  in such case you can rely on notes section of your tasks. You can put there any information that is relevant to the action that you need to accomplish. Once you add the extra info the task will have a little text file icon indicating there is a note associated with it. Although I don’t use this feature extensively it does come handy on regular basis.
  • use lists and tags – you can keep one long list of all your task but then you don’t really need RTM. If you however follow GTD methodology or like to keep your task nicely organised RTM will cater to almost all of your needs. You can assign tasks to lists which help creating silos that can divide work tasks from home, someday maybe from next actions etc. You can also apply tags which means items can be grouped based on a tag regardless of the list they are assigned to. This way you can collate all your @computer @call @person x actions in a single view with out a need of looking through all the different lists. It’s one of the more powerful elements of RTM and the reason it’s so flexible to-do manager.
  • link RTM and Evernote – for me Remember the Milk is for tasks and Evernote is for notes. My project list sits in RTM but all reference Material is in Evernote so the best way to gel the two is copy link note from Evernote and paste it into Remember the Milk. When I comes to reviewing my project list or adding new tasks I simply clik on that link and Evernote pops up with all my project notes. Then it’s just a matter of establishing where I’m and defining next set of action points and adding to RTM.
  • Add RTM tasks to Gmail – email client is one of those applications where we spend a ton of time. It’s also a major source of work and updates that come in our way. Adding RTM widget to Gmail makes it easy to see your tasks as well as to add new items quickly based on the incoming emails.
  • add tasks from Launchy – if you’re keyboard ninja and rely on applications like Launch to open programs, documents and websites you will want to do the same with your task manager. Launchy and FARR (it’s competitor) both have plugins allowing you to add tasks straight to RTM. When the inspiration strikes or you simply want be reminded of something you can open your launcher window and type relevant command and the task will be added to your master list. You will have to refer to web client to review those items.
  • use browser bookmarklet to add tasks – capture is one of the most basic habits that help you stay organised and effective. The easier it’s to capture things the better. If you live in your browser you can take advantage of RTM bookmklet which allows you to add tasks simply by clicking the icon on your bookmarks bar. Then populate necessary info and press ok. Your task will be added to your master list.
  • visit the forums – once you catch the RTM bug and decide to use it on regular basis you will inevitably look for ways to enhance the application and make it even more useful. User forums is great place for that. There are plenty of people sharing their experiences, tips and trick. Visit it regularly to see what’s new was posted.
  • buy a subscription (extra features + support your app) – by default Remember the Milk is free which may be sufficient if you are happy to use the web version only. However if you would like to take the full advantage of the mobile clients, instant sync and other features it’s worth becoming a premium user. You not only get those extra option but you also support the service so it can continue to exist.

Goals.To set or not to set.

Interesting debate between Leo Babauta and Tim Ferris about goals. Althogh the main premise indicates that this is discussion about not having goals versus having them.  The discussion goes much deeper into the whole concept of goal setting, enjoying the process, accepting failure etc.
It’s definitely worth listening to and ponder how you feel about goals and could you make them better for yourself.

Tim Ferriss vs. Leo Babauta Showdown: On Whether Goals Suck

Debunked productivity myths

Internet, books, magazines are full of productivity advice. Very often these media announce THE best productivity methodology, tip or hack. Very often these suggestions contradicts one versus the other making event more difficult to figure out what to do and who to follow and listen to.
Lifehacker debunks seven popular productivity myths and explains why they don’t work.

 

Seven Productivity Myths Debunked

Each or us is different and we respond in different ways to tips, suggestions and methods that we come across. The best productivity system is one that helps you achieve what you are decided to do regardless of its origin, complexity and coherence. Building successful workflow takes time necessary to test things and see what really works for you.

 

 

Planning 2013

As we’ve entered year 2013 is few days ago I wanted to share two ways of planning you might consider when thinking of this year.
First one by Chris Guillebeau  is a fairly extensive process of completing a yearly review along with planning new goals, defining actions and steps necessary to achieve them. Important part of this approach is to specify clear outcomes you want to achieve whether it’s the amount of money you want to earn, number of blog posts to publish or clients to reach out to. The second important element of this is to detail some steps necessary to achieve it.

How to conduct your own annual review

Second approach by Kaihan Krippendorff focuses more on the high level aspects of yearly resolutions. Rather than specify goals you define areas of focus that you want to focus on or projects you wish to accomplish. Once that done define what you want to be true for each element at the end of the year and work backwards setting up milestones for each quarter. Each day spend some time looking at these items and feel how it is to have these items done.

Strategy tracking tool

This year I will be using the second approach when defining my areas of focus for this year.

One more important element to remember is to keep things flexible. Idea, goals, plans that are true today may not be valid in 3 or 4 months. Keep your mind open for new opportunities never know when they might show up.

Happy Planning!