Like probably a lot of you, I keep looking for tips and systems on how to increase my productivity. Some of them help, some are too complicated to be operational in a just mildly changing environment and others are downright foolish.
I have successfully incorporated a few, which helped me get more of the important things done. Tips like write the most important task of the day on a piece of paper, the one task that at the end of the day, will make you feel like you have accomplished a good days work – and then give this your full attention until it is finished. And as a lot of you know, these are often characterized by being the tasks we feel the most uncomfortable about.
But what I personally found missing from a lot of these systems, was the ever changing environment of running a start-up. If I kept the notes and looked at them by the end of the week, I would always end of thinking – was that all I accomplished during the week? How could I have spent so many hours on those?
Of course I hadn’t spent all my time on those tasks that were written down. I had been programming/writing/preparing something, that at the time was the most important task, but while doing so; something more important had come up; I had figured that this new feature led to a re-think and re-design of some existing components; or something of the like. I hadn’t been procrastinating or unproductive, the things I had on my to-do list at the start of the week just did not cover all the work they had brought me during the execution.
What I needed was a way to track not only what I wanted or needed to do, but also what I actually ended up doing.
The reason why this is important – at least for my part – is that when working on something like a start-up, writing a book or anything where the gratification(launch, release, etc.) is quite far into the horizon, you won’t receive any pads on the back or acknowledgements during everyday work. This means that your biggest critic – yourself – has to have a way of seeing results along the way, for it to get of your back and praise you for whatever small improvements you have made.
This is where TO-DO’s and DID-DO’s come into play. They are actually quite simple, as most of you probably already figured out, the basic premise, but I will nevertheless share my way of organizing them.
I personally use Evernote to store these and therefore the following screenshots will be from there. I have basically created a note which I call “Week template” – this is almost static. Almost in the sense, that if I have long-running tasks that are not top-priority, they can make their way to this template. This template is then each week copied and used to fill out the week. And example could be as follows:
What I then do is each week, I make a rough sketch of what I want to accomplish, add those tasks to that week and I am ready to go. Then each day I can add things that spawned from doing other tasks, so that everything I do ends up being on that list as seen below:
This enables me to keep track of not only what I have to do, but also what I DID do, which for me makes work much more satisfying. The level of detail in these are totally up to you – just keep in mind that it should be operational and keep your productivity high – if you end up breaking each tasks into to small pieces, just to get more items checked, then you are certainly doing it wrong.
If you lack motivation and don’t feel like you are getting anything done, then try this system. The self rewarding effect of seeing how much you accomplished should not be underestimated!