Let's Get Productive!

It's Wednesday, it's the end of the work day, what worse way to celebrate than to write about how I spend my day working.

So I am someone who, if left unattended, will obsessively work on something until it is detrimental to my health. I love projects too much. As any IT worker will know this leads to eye strain, weight gain, back aches, so on and so forth! Thus I aim to break my work load up as much as possible.

I do this in three ways:

  1. Getting Things Done - There's so much here, but what helps me most is beginning and ending each work week with a reflection of the work completed/needed, and adjusting my routine to fit those goals.
  2. The Pomodoro Technique - Having 5 minutes breaks every 25 minutes of work, to prevent burn-out and keep the mind fresh.
  3. The Seinfeld Strategy - Tracking streaks of daily/weekly tasks and aiming to not break those streaks.

Unsurprisingly, all of those links lead to lifehacker.com. It may sound like productivity mumbo-jumbo, and there's some truth to that. What works for me, however, is always knowing what I'm working on, where it's going, and what I've recently completed, all in a system that doesn't stop my workflow much. The following apps help tremendously:

  • Todoist (for Getting Things Done) - Probably the best To Do list app out there (apart from Omnifocus, but I don't have a Mac). This is where everything I do or want to do during the day goes. Each task is given a discipline (is this task for Uni or for personal?, for example), as well as a number of pomodoros (see link). This allows me to really easily tell how much work I can fit into each day. I even put in tasks for breakfast and lunch, so I can take those into consideration, which really helps, working from home and all.
  • Pomodone (for The Pomodoro Technique) - The only desktop pomodoro app I've used that works exactly how I want it to. It syncs with Todoist, so whilst working I'll just pick the task I want to focus on, and then I can work solidly knowing that breaks will come regularly. Plus, at the end of the day I can see how much time I've actually spent working, and make changes from there.
  • Rewire (for The Seinfeld Strategy) - Android only, and this is mostly for personal goals. With exercising, for example, it really helps me to have a long term goal. Plus, with this inconsistent Uni schedule, I can focus on doing a task a certain number of times per week, instead of on concrete dates.
  • Can't Wake Up! (for kickstarting my mornings) - I don't usually have problems becoming active in the mornings, but on the days where your energy just isn't there, it really helps the routine to force yourself to go through a couple of steps on auto-pilot. I have this app set up so that my morning alarm isn't silenced until it scans the barcode on my cereal. At that stage I might as well make myself breakfast, skipping the slow lethargic waking struggle.

In conclusion, ever since adopting this routine, my daily work load has gone through the roof, and I feel a hell of a lot healthier! If you're struggling to keep motivated or are just constantly hitting a wall with work, then by all means give these apps and techniques a try. What's to lose?

Feel free to contact me, I love discussing this stuff. Doubly so if you have a better idea of how I should be planning my day! Good luck being productive, folks.