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Tag Archives: Prioritization

I have tried many, many task tracking methods and to-do list apps.  They all work for a while, but eventually they get too complicated and I stop using them.  I always end up returning to the old tried and true: pen-and-paper.

I can write bigger and smaller, add notes in the margins, highlight things, draw boxes, check things off and cross things out.  It’s all very intuitive.  Whenever the page fills up, I re-writing the list, copying over all the unfinished tasks to a fresh page.  This is a built-in regular review of my tasks.  Things get re-prioritized, unimportant tasks get dropped, and my list never gets too big.

I might spend an extra 5-10 minutes a week re-writing lists, but it’s time well spent.  For me, no method works better.

I’ve been writing a post every day, just a quick note on my work habits and what thought patterns or external conditions are affecting them (you haven’t seen them because they’re marked “Private”).  It’s helping me to recognize what helps me focus (a good night’s sleep) and what throws me off the rails (having to make a tough decision).  I’m finding it helpful.

Here’s today’s nugget of wisdom.  A few minutes of down time really helps me to re-focus.

I often find myself staring at the screen, sleepily wondering what I should be working on.  I semi-consciously scroll through my inbox or gaze at my old to-do list, half the items crossed off, unable to make a decision.  Without a clear sense of priority, I too often just start goofing off instead of working.

Contrast that with today: on my way back from a morning meeting, I turned off the radio and just let my mind wander (that part of my mind which wasn’t engaged in driving!).  Pretty soon I was thinking about what else I wanted to accomplish today when i got back to the office.  I was remembering things that I want to get done, mentally prioritizing them, and even started to work on one of them in my head!  When I got home, I quickly scribbled out a prioritized to-do list and dove into work on it.

I should take some time every day to do nothing.  Not a web-comic break,  but really to do nothing.  A ten-minute walk, or a sit in the back yard to listen to the birds.  Followed by a bit of thought on what else I want to accomplish that day.

“Why am I procrastinating so much, this week?”

It’s easy to end up working on low-priority stuff (ie. procrastinating) when I just plop myself down at the computer and say “what shall I work on next?”

It’s easy to maintain focus on my top priorities if I always pick up my to-do list or daily plan when I ask “what shall I work on next?”

-J

Practice Prioritization, Focus, and
Healthy Breaks instead of Distractions.

I’ve been sick with a nasty cold for the past couple of days.  I say that I’m too sick to work, but I still spend the whole day at the computer: doing all the goof-off things that usualy creep into my work days, only without the work.  I feel like I’ve fallen off the wagon; I’m worried that I’m practicing a bad habit, and that I won’t be able to focus on work when I’m well again.

I could spend all day, every day, signing petitions, writing letters and spamming my friends about important issues.  It’s important, but all things in moderation, right?  Making a living is important too.  So, what will be my strategy when I’m “working” again?

  • Use the timer for everything I do at my desk, starting right at the beginning of the day.
  • Prioritize non-work tasks.  Activism will have to compete for my time with all of life’s other demands.
  • If something really big and important comes up, that’s what evenings are for.

It’s too easy for me to put off work to do other “important” things – because I don’t like working!  If I have to balance those “important” things against other pleasurable pursuits (books, movies, games, getting to bed on time), then I think we’ll see some real prioritization.

-J