Aubrey Portwood

Getting Things Done, An Experience & Tips

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Hanging out around the office (or, home office) can be either productive or very distracting. These are some of the things I’ve used to get things done around the “office.”

Use a task list, I mean really use one!

Using Gqueues

Using Gqueues

A task list has helped me more than ever when it comes to GTD (getting things done). It’s not just about “having” a task list either. Really, it’s about using one well!

Planning tasks ahead of time.

This is the most important rule for using task lists. Do not, and I repeat, do not add an item to your “to-do” list without giving it a prospective date. These items are as good and never done, ever; forever. This allows me to see overdue “things” I expected to get done at such a time. Then, I constantly reschedule them, which reminds me, bugs me and eventually leads to getting it done.

Do it Later

Yeah, most of us do not get things done because we remember a thing we need to do later, and do it immediately. This causes countless hours of work that should have been done on time to get pushed back. Pushing back work leads to stress, stress leads to a lack of interest, a lack of interest leads to another school major change. Save yourself the trouble, just click the quick add and worry about it later.

Don’t check things off!

Using a task list seems simple, right? Find a task, read it, do it, check it off. Uh, nope! That’s not quite the zen way to do it. I have a better, more efficient idea: don’t check off your tasks until the end of the day. Go ahead, load up that task list and just start “doing” and don’t check off a thing. At the end of the day, go through it and start removing items. I promise, it’s rewarding and it keeps you from thinking you’ve “done a lot” just because you’ve checked off two items.

Checking things off one-at-a-time leads to rewarding yourself with countless YouTube hours because you “feel” you’ve done a lot. But really, you haven’t done much at all. Finish the day off by clearing off a ton of items from your to-do, it’s the thing to do.

If you want to get things done using a task list, the sure-fire way to go is Gqueues. Not a plug, I seriously use this to my ultimate benefit.

Start working as fast as possible!

Don’t check your e-mail, don’t check Facebook, don’t even go visit your colleague to “discuss” something. You have your coffee, start working! Every time I fail to do this, it ends up being a distracting day full of not getting things done-ness. I know if feels messy, but that’s just your brain trying to trick you into doing nothing.

I have found that if I start doing that “boring coding” right away, I can spend an hour getting some work done. That way I get into a rhythm, I get a sense of what I need to do, and get excited about finishing something. That’s the way to start a day.

Then, check your e-mail.

Take short breaks, lots of them!

We all know the reason we love to <code> is because, before we know it, five hours have passed. If it’s what you love to do, time will fly. Then, you end up taking that long hour break that you feel you deserve. You grab a coke, watch some YouTube, check e-mail, and Facebook it up. But, the thing is, you’ll get stuck! You’ll end up arriving in the same situation you did when you got there that morning. You forgot what you needed to get done and you lost the desire to finish anything.

Lunch, away from the computer.

Lunch, away from the computer.

Take lots of short 2 minute breaks. Take a walk outside or use the time to do a video blog! Heck, even check your Facebook- but keep them short and often! Find things to do during your breaks, because you need to take them, lots of them.

Take a lunch away from the computer.

Yep, go a head take that lunch break- you have to eat don’t you? It’s the only 30 minute plus break you should get all day! I used to bring a lunch with me and YouTube it up for my hour long break distracting myself with Internet nonsense. We know why this is a bad idea already, so what I’ve done is used my lunch as an opportunity to get unacquainted with my computer and have lunch with a friend instead. When I get back to work, I miss my computer, and I feel refreshed and ready for the other half of my day.

Failure to take this break in front of your computer will result in unwanted slavery to sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia. Guaranteed!

Track yourself.

Toggl Pie

Toggl Pie

Another tactic I’ve been using to GMTD (get more things done) is I’ve been tracking my time. Every second, even that break, and even that lunch. I use Toggl to track every second I make a change of direction. I had originally decided to track myself to help estimate how long it takes me to do a certain task or complete a project. A side-effect that I have noticed, is when I bring up that fancy report of the time I’ve been using, I feel a little guilty that the piece of pie dedicated to 60% of my time is dedicated to wasting it.

When you have bills to pay, or the cash flow is low, now you can look the guilt right in the face! I’ve even become competitive of sorts, trying to get one pie to eat the other that eats dollars.