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Becoming a Boss

The quiz quickly identified that I'm in danger. I lack focus and rely on looming deadlines to spark my work. I want to get out of this maddening cycle of being distracted and unfocused in my work. 

PHASE 1 UPDATE:

I was SHOCKED at the number of tasks that came out of my head. No wonder I'm so frazzled. I was initially skeptical at the 200-600 number that Tiago suggested but then I read through his triggers and things just kept coming.... I now have a healthy list of 200+ after only working on the exercise for 30 minutes and I'm sure more will come to my head as I keep reflecting on it. More things are coming to my mind as I write this update... 

PHASE 2 UPDATE: 

It took me an hour but I just chugged through it. Creating buckets for projects and areas of responsibility is quite a task. I made the decision to assign everything a timeline (that had one) because I was concerned about things falling through the cracks. I feel relieved that I know that everything is accounted for and I don't have to constantly remind myself internally that I have to pick up a lightbulb for the fridge or write an agenda for a meeting because it's on the list and if necessary, it has a date. Since I'm using Reminders for now, this date does not show up on my calendar and clutter my mind. For things that need a reminder or are date specific, I add it on the relevant date to my calendar. 

I was so inspired, I changed my photo because I suddenly felt like a boss. 

PHASE 3 UPDATE: 

I'm not exactly sure why to divide everything by Project and Area rather than by Area, with the projects underneath. So far, I have my notebook stacks by area of responsibility but that's probably because I only have 6 very broad areas. I like the way it sits right now but I'm considering trying the Project/Area method that Tiago outlined but I'm not sure what the pros are of using that method as opposed to my own, beyond the fact that I'm clearly not the authority in productivity in this relationship. LOL. 

PHASE 4 UPDATE: 

So I bit the bullet and decided to try the project/areas method suggested and I have a pretty streamlined evernote: 

I put the area topic in front of each project name so that I could easily find all projects related to one area in the same place. I already bucket my life in my mind so this made the most sense to me. 

CHOICES MADE 

1. Task management - Todoist seems like a winner to me. I stepped over the hurdle of writing everything down in Phase 1 but since Reminders didn't have tagging options, I thought it would be a good time to skip to the last unit and give some thought to what I want to use as my task management app. 

2. Note-taking - Evernote - I've used it for a long time and I love it. I just applied the principle and streamlined my notebook stacks to mirror the GTD system and it was an easy integration into what I'm already doing. 

3. Calendar - I'm keeping my iphone calendar as my main calendar and requested for syncing of my work calendar to my iphone calendar (from my job's IT department) so that I only manage one calendar when I'm away from my desk. Hopefully that will be done by tomorrow. 

4. Time-tracking software. This seemed overwhelming since I'm also trying to keep a food diary so I tabled this for now and once I've tried the above for a week or so, I'll consider if I want to track time also. I'll probably go for rescue time when I decide to make the jump. 

5. Other - I downloaded Pocket, decided to use Reminders for things like grocery lists and already use Dark Room when I need to zone out and get my thoughts on paper clearly. I made a conscious decision not to get too many fancy tools and ultimately only downloaded two apps (todoist and pocket) to help me streamline. The more things to figure out how to use and the less likely I'll be able to make them a habit. Also, I decided to keep the mini notebook in my purse because although all of this is great, nothing beats pen and paper for me when I want to brainstorm or sketch out a plan. 

I saved some of the suggested readings for when I have some downtime and the curated resources are a gold mine of suggestions and options. Thanks Tiago! 

PHASE 5 UPDATE: 

So after I watched the video, the tagging seemed to be a bit overwhelming so I decided to sleep on it. When I gave it more thought today, it seemed like a great idea for two of my productivity pain points - in between meetings and during car rides (when I'm not driving). These are often times that become productivity time sucks - unintentionally. I decided that the most important tags for me were context, time, and priority. 

After transferring my tasks to todoist (which i love by the way), I added tags. 

For priority, todoist comes with three flags: light blue, dark blue, and red. These were perfect for high, medium, and low priority. It also enables me to sort lists by priority so that I tackle the most important stuff first. 

Next for time, I gave myself three categories: 10, 30, and 60 minutes. 

Finally, I added contexts that made sense to me and even though I have more than three categories, they came naturally: work, home, phone, web, store, and anywhere. It was important for me to have an anywhere category because there are several times where I have breaks in the day and I need to know the tasks that I can take care of when I'm on the run. 

Here's a quick view of how some of my tasks look for the day: 

I already feel my productivity improving. I have focus and a sense of what to accomplish each day. Now I'm able to filter and sort my tasks wherever I am and make the best use of my time so that I can be calm and work like a boss. 

POST CLASS UPDATE 

So I decided to use the strategies I've learned for a week and see what happens: 

1.) I'm MUCH more organized and my mind is clear. I immediately try to process loops by adding them to my inbox and even if I don't have time to tag them appropriately right then, I process them in my daily update and stuff is getting DONE. 

2.) I do two daily reviews. I find this really helpful for me. I do an overall review of all of my tasks the night before so that I can prep whatever I need to have with me for the day. I find it easier to look at my list the night before and put anything that I need to carry with me by the front door and it doesn't interfere with my morning routine which was already pretty well established. My evening review looks like this (all done on my iphone in 5 minutes or less):

  • Collect open loops in todoist 
  • Check calendar for tomorrow's schedule 
  • Put any necessary physical items near the door

I do this before putting out my workout clothes and packing my lunch. 

I also do a daily review of strictly work tasks when I arrive at my desk in the morning. This enables me to focus purely on work tasks]. I've scheduled 30 minutes for each morning although I find that it usually takes me about 5 minutes to take care of the following list (because it's daily): 

  • Collect open loops
  • Clear physical desk/inbox/evernote
  • Clear computer desktop
  • Clear downloads folder
  • Clear email inbox (personal and work)
  • Process inbox
  • Review “Next Actions” and decide on today’s tasks
  • Write to do list 

It might seem strange that I physically write my todo list but it works for me. I like having a physical list in front of me as I get work done and it helps me avoid going online and getting distracted. Also, I take technology breaks and I'm able to take my list wherever I am. It takes me about 2 minutes to quickly scribble my list for the day and it keeps me focused. Unless I have something pressing or urgent to do after my daily review, I also give myself the remaining time to knock out any urgent 10 minute tasks from my task management system, work or personal. This enables me to get things like scheduling a doctor appointment or sending out important emails before I start tackling major projects that require my undivided attention. 

I'm also not worried about upcoming projects because I've scheduled them and I'll tackle them when I get there. 

Anyhow, my 10 minutes is up so I'm done with this task. I look forward to checking in again at some point regarding my weekly and monthly review. Thanks!  

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