Over the years, I have built up a slew of tools, that help me stay on top of what I am working on now, and the direction I am heading in over the long term. Much of this is inspired by Getting Things Done by David Allen, and numerous, long conversations with friends that are into this. I was always curious about others’ workflows, so I thought I’d share mine too. Without further ado, here’s how I work:
The Inbox: Every thought flows into Things3
If someone mentions a book, I am in conversation with a friend, and we come up with an idea, or I am in a meeting and need to remember something, it all flows into Things3.
The Personal: All personal projects are managed on Things3
Every few days, I make sure the Inbox is processed. For personal things, this often means these turn into action items and projects on Things3. Here’s how it looks right now:
Oranged out some more personal projects. I took a lot of pride in selecting these area titles :}
I try to keep most projects under some sort of theme, which resembles, but does not often 1:1 correlated with the “responsibilities and spheres” in my life.
In each project, tasks are often assigned one tag. I use these tags:
“snack” means quick and easy
The Timely: All action items that need to be done at certain time goes to Fantastical
If an action item needs to be done at a certain time, it goes on the calendar. I used to add duplicates to these Things, but as I am pretty religious about the calendar, and in the end decided there was no need for this. I can often correlate these action items back to projects during a weekly review.
The Professional: I use a Paper doc to manage my professional work.
I found that my work fits into linear, long time blocks, that require a lot of rampup (engineering work). I found the GTD flow doesn’t work too well for this, because it makes it harder to stay focused and ramp up quickly on a long cycle of work. I moved to using Paper doc, with the goal of making it as easy as possible to jump in and start coding. Here’s how that looks:
Had to orange out most of that :p
I have a scratchpad, which makes it easy to ramp back up on the main project. At any given point, I know that the highest priority is deep work, so if I can do I just look at that and pick the next task. Otherwise, if I am blocked I can focus on Make or Manage.
The Weekly: I review the system by a Paper template every week
At the end of every week, I go over the tools above, to make sure projects are on track and running smoothly. Here’s how that template looks:
The Mid Term: I track my areas and year-level goals in one small document.
The majority of my time is oriented at the ground level. However, it’s replenished and energized every few months, from a quick document I maintain called Mid-Term. here’s how that looks:
The Mid-Term quickly lists the open loops and sphere in life, and year-level goals in area
The Long Term: The long term goals are inspired by an essay
Once every few years, I end up using a long plane ride to write an essay about how life will look 5 years from now. I refine it little by little as time goes on, and it serves as a constant source of inspiration.
The Principles: As life goes on, I update a Principles list
The final in my system document called Principles. As time goes on, I jot down the lessons learned, big or small, on this list. it can go from “Don’t take 30 minute layovers” to the criteria you should use to decide what to work on.
Well, this is pretty much it! If you have systems or thoughts, please share them with me :)