I am strong believer in productivity and getting things done.
In my eyes, being able to be highly productive, organised, and most importantly: get things done – finish them, is one of the pillars of success.
So what tools do I use to keep on top of the things:
I go through my inbox and incoming mail several times a day (but I do not have automatic email download, I have to manually request it – more on this in this post). I follow the rules of ZERO inbox, every email is processed in one of these ways:
a) It’s deleted straight away
b) It’s read quickly but because it’s a larger task and I don’t have time for it now, it moves to a folder called Important
c) It’s read, replied to, sorted, moves to archive
d) It’s star marked (or highlighted) – meaning it’s important and I should sort it out as a priority
In this way, my inbox serves as an urgent to do list. The items that are left in my inbox are urgent and important and I process them as a priority. Those that were moved to folder Important get sorted later when I have less energy for creative tasks (in the afternoon, or when i have only 15 mins of time before a meeting, or when I have to wait for something and can’t do anything else, then I sort these smaller tasks).
2) Things app for Mac
Things app supports the methodology of Getting Things Done. It should be used in a certain way but I have to admit that I use it as a storage of ideas and tasks only. Those are usually ideas and tasks that are not urgent (those usually come in an email). Tasks in Things are ideas I had when I read an article or discussed something with a colleague etc.
The reason why I store them in Things is that you can put them in folders (Projects) and tick them off.
3) Reminders for Mac
I use reminders for my private stuff – usually things I have to do at home or outside of work. The reason is that my inbox is merged so I get personal and work emails at once, so I can’t use email as todo list for my personal things (as work stuff takes over) and I use Things app for work related ideas. So Reminders found its place in my life and in fact, combined with the neat feature of reminding me of stuff when I reach destination, eg. home, they do a great job.
4) Calendar reminders
For things that are time-bound such as tasks that have to be done by tomorrow morning, I use calendars because they have an alert feature. I try not to populate my calendar with too many tasks, these are only the highest importance time-sensitive tasks which make me drop everything when I receive an alert. I also use them for tasks that are time-sensitive but are due in future, which are difficult to be managed in my email or Things. For example, ‘Cancel subscription to this app on this day’ – this has to happen for example 3 months from now on and the only place that will give me a timely reminder for that is my calendar. It’s also useful for tasks that repeat, eg. ‘back up my data’ – needs to happen every week/month.
And that’s it. It’s that simple. Only a few apps to store my list of tasks in and apart from Things they are all native applications on my computer.
The key is to find a workflow that will work for you. What tools and techniques do you use to support your work flow?