Two useful methods for personal productivity

When I’m feeling the pressure of competing obligations, or not sure if I should work on something, or if something I am working on feels like it’s just not right, I turn to Think, Organize, Do. These are the three modes of work that everyone needs in order to function with purpose. These modes inform and feed each other, and when I’m in a rut, burned out, or overwhelmed, it’s usually because I haven’t spent enough time in one or more of these modes.”

Think, Organize, Do (Gina Trapani, Postlight)

I’m wearing a bunch of hats at work. I’m a platform administrator, overseeing tools and processes; I’m a content marketer, working on project management & asset creation; and I’m a community manager, working on program development & implementation.

Somewhere around all that I’m also working on my personal stuff — this blog, a few others, WP Durham, certifications, upping my coding skills. Then there’s my family and home and health, other hobbies, and all that gaps in between.

There’s a lot going on.

80% of the time I feel in control, like everything just flows from one task to another, like all the things are a latticework. But then there’s the 15% of the time where I feel out of alignment. And the 5% where I feel straight up overwhelmed.

Gina’s article over on the Postlight blog is a helpful model for working through the onslaught. It’s worth reading the whole thing, but my takeaways are this:

  • “Thinking time” is when you step back and zoom out. Big picture stuff. It’s setting the goals and milestones, the to-do items for a backlog.
  • “Organizing time” is when you sort through everything you thought of and start chunking it out. I did this in December as I started consolidating my aspirations into projects. I do it every week as I drop blocks of time onto my calendar.
  • “Doing time” is when you buckle down and get the work done. The mornings are when I work on personal and professional development. My afternoons are for meetings, collaboration, admin tasks, and communication-heavy duties.

+ I think Gina’s approach pairs nicely with Getting Things Done from David Allen, another methodology for personal task management. My first manager out of college introduced me to the GTD method early on, and I’ve used it (and endorsed it!) ever since.

Nowadays most of my to-do items are captured and labeled in Microsoft Planner. Personal stuff gets dropped in Todoist. Emails I need to follow up on are flagged in Outlook or starred in Gmail. Articles go into my Pocket reading list for later.

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