Happy new year everyone. Here’s hoping 2021 is year when humankind goes back to a world vaguely resembling what we called “normal”.
As a New year goal to pursue, I decided to pick up writing again. Last time I wrote a “blog” was a brief stint in 2011 with me in my mid-20s, in the initial stages of my career, trying to find answers to life, universe and everything. Now in my mid-30s, I thought to revisit some of my old blog posts with a more mature mindset 10 years on.
This series will be a few parts long (not decided how many yet but more than 3 definitely!), starting with revisiting a post titled “Getting things done”.
Original Post from 2011:
A new year, a new set of tasks. One of the things I want to really try out properly this year is an organised workflow method. In the past I have tried and had some success with following the getting things done methodology. I have tried using a number of apps with various types of sync options across all my gadgets with varying degree of success. In the end, I settled with a program called Things which provided enough functionality as I required coupled with a very nice user interface across all my gadgets.
However, after a while, my use of this rather efficient workflow became less and less and I could not quite understand why. After having a proper think on the matter over the holidays I think the reason for this was my implementation of the workflow. Instead of using task management to achieve goals, I used task management much like a shopping checklist. Everyday I would put all the tasks that I have to get done and just list them one after the other in my apps without any type of organisation.
While this did the job of reminding me of what needs to be done very well; it took away the holistic view of how that task fit into the big picture. As I lost sight of how completing these tasks was making a difference (or not) I also lost the motivation of using such a task management system.
I want to change this. I think what needs to be done is to divide all the things I want/need to do in a series of small projects and have these tasks attached to a particular project with an end date attached to them. This solves both the issues of giving me the big picture of how completing tasks is helping my ‘projects’ and also how I prioritise these plethora of tasks. I think the best way of doing this is to first have a mind map to identify chunks of mini projects under which the related tasks can be bundled. And this map is then reviewed periodically to take out completed projects and add new ones. This, I am hoping, should give me an efficient workflow which is also sustainable as it keeps things organised and also keeps me aware of the big picture.
So now the thing to do is to design this concept workflow to suit me. Maybe in a couple of posts I can post how the new workflow is holding up. In the meantime, please leave a comment on what you think of my workflow idea and your thoughts on how you would improve it.
Happy new year to you all again.
10 years is a long time! But some things didn’t change … too much at least. They matured more than changed.
I still use Things as my main GTD tool. But overtime, my productivity workflow has refined to included some other amazing tools, workflows and productivity philosophies that enable me to be more effective (Rather than just efficient, which is an important distinction). They are:
- ToDo lists — Things with things cloud syncing across all my devices
- Notes, brainstorming, research and capture all app — Evernote
- Capture kindle notes — Readwise
- Organization philosophy — Based on Second Brain system by Tiago Forte (Just to be clear, I haven’t formally joined the Second Brain course yet! But I have read a fair few articles and youtube videos, especially by Ali Abdaal, to get an idea on how I can implement the philosophy in my workflow). This methodology/philosophy enabled me to figure out a way to effectively organise the information I gather into a structure that converts that information into knowledge.
Maybe I would like a mind mapping tool in there as well … something to explore. But I digress! Maybe that will be a subject for another post.
So I still use Things app. Over the years, the interface has matured both for Things and iOS as an OS. With widgets, Siri and other features, it has become (almost) friction-less to capture tasks. Now my workflow focuses on reliably capturing tasks through the day on various devices without worrying (too much) about things like structure, duplication etc. The objective is to get it out of my brain and onto a list ASAP. Then every evening after dinner (while watching TV with family) I spend a few minutes classifying my tasks on my iPhone and putting them in appropriate groups and projects ready for the new day at the office in the morning. There are tasks that take a little more work/concentration than just something on the side while watching TV, which I mark with notes, leave it in the ‘inbox’ and deal with it first thing in the morning before starting work.
While I may not be a productivity purist in multi-tasking i.e. reviewing a TODO list while watching TV but this works well for me. Using this I finally managed to get rid of that feeling of “forgetting something” while ensuring I can look at my entire workload and use my time efficiently and effectively. Sure I can make it better and refine it further. But one thing is for sure, over the years my responsibilities have significantly increased both at work and at home; and I don’t think I would be able to handle them all without the aid of these tools and methodologies.
So concluding the reflection on my post from 10 years ago. Some things are the same, others refined and some others changed, but overall the heading feels right. Here’s to the next 10 years!!
P.S. — I may not be the sharpest writer yet, especially after not writing a blog in years. So please bear with me, hopefully the prose style and the writing will improve with future posts. Do let me know if you found it useful.