One of my hobbies is studying how to be more productive. I have read David Allen’s GTD books, listen to 43 Folders podcast, thirst after Inbox Zero and talk to people about how they manage their time.
Below are some things I’ve learned.
Plan your year in context
I learned this from Brad Feld who calls this “The Rhythms of his Life“. Think of your time in segments: Year, Quarter, Month, Week, Day. Create a routine for each of these segments that you follow such as taking a vacation each quarter, wake up at the same time each day, etc.
Understand how your spend your time each day
I am using a utility called RescueTime that runs in the background and analyzes the applications you have open. When you are away from your computer RescueTime asks you “What have you been doing?”. You can view reports of “Time Wasted” and “Producive Time”. I don’t run RescueTime everyday, just every once in a while to help me stay on track. It’s amazing how much time I waste everyday!
This is a graph showing my day today. I woke up at 5am for my Morning Think time but my daughter woke up as well so I spent my morning with her. As you can see I took a break around lunchtime and mid-day is when I am interrupted the most with random questions and water cooler conversation.
Trust your System
I learned this from David Allen’s GTD books. I use Things as my ToDo list. Anytime anyone says anything that I need to follow up on I dump it into my Inbox on Things. Each week I have my “Weekly Review” to organize this list. The amount of stuff that I procrastinate on or drop has been reduced dramatically by using Things.
The above shows the Inbox view in my Things app. Every task, usually life stuff but some work stuff, I dump into the Inbox for “processing” later.
I have written about my Morning Think Time on this blog previously. A few days a week I try and wakeup at 5am. For about 2 hours I sip coffee and do whatever I want, usually read or research on my laptop sitting in my robe. This time is extremely productive and helps me think about the big picture, read or just knock off small tasks.
2009 has been a transformative year for me as I’ve become extremly productive following the above tactics. My goals in 2010 are to be more productive on the bigger things in my life now that I have the day to day figured out.