About a year ago, I took a Skillshare course called Get Stuff Done Like A Boss: Design Your Workflow and Double Your Productivity in 21 Days. It’s completely changed the way I track, manage, and complete tasks on a daily basis and has helped me get more organized than I’ve ever been in my whole life.
The basic idea is that you have a system where every single one of your TO-DOs (or “open loops” as the course refers to them) is entered into your task manager, relieving you of the stress you might encounter trying to keep track of everything in your head. After you’ve entered the task into your system, you rely on your process to determine what there is to do and what you should focus on next. It’s a great way to make sure you don’t miss anything important (relieving stress) and to be more focused (increasing productivity).
Without going into too much detail (I’ll let the course do that), here are a few of the tools/processes I rely on most in my Getting Things Done (GTD) workflow:
This is the bread and butter of my productivity workflow. It integrates seamlessly with GTD and has a lot of features that other task management apps don’t have. Some of my favorite features include:
- Separate areas for Projects and Areas of Responsibility. This is important for GTD.
- Cloud syncing across Mac and iOS apps
- Mac “Quick Entry” feature that allows you to immediately enter a task and can even (optionally) attach the URL of the website you are currently viewing. I use this every day.
- Reminders integration on iOS. This means I can tell Siri to “remind me to submit my timesheet”, and it will automatically be added to things. Awesome.
The one drawback to Things is the price. The Mac app can be yours for a cool $50, and the iOS will run you another $10. To me, it’s money well spent. You get what you pay for.
I have become an Evernote power user over the past year. Creating notebooks for all of my Projects, Areas of Responsibility, and other Resources has helped me get to a level of organization that I never thought possible for myself. I’m sure most have heard of Evernote, so I won’t go into too much detail about what it does. I will, however, mention a few of my favorite features:
- Cloud syncing. I switch between my computers (work and home), iPhone, and iPad constantly, and it’s super important to always have everything up to date.
- Document scanning. All of those random pieces of paper that you don’t know what to do with can be scanned into Evernote using your phone’s camera. With a digital copy in Evernote, the physical copy can go to the paper shredder. Filing cabinets be damned. And for Evernote premium subscribers, any text on scanned in documents will be indexed and searchable. I use this all the time.
- Business card scanning. This is also a premium feature. I can scan in business cards and automatically add them to my contacts or add them on LinkedIn. No more having to save the stupid card.
- Everything is searchable and easy to find. I used to have to scan through physical notebook pages to find a particular note or rifle through a filing cabinet in search of certain documents. No more. (I will note here that I still do own a filing cabinet for certain documents, but I keep it to an absolute minimum.)
Inbox Zero (Gmail/Mailbox)
Inbox Zero isn’t a product like the above. It’s an approach to email and can be done with any service or email client. I happen to use the Gmail web app and Mailbox iOS app.
The basic idea is that you completely clear your inbox (to zero items) every single day. This doesn’t mean that you need to immediately reply to every single message or drop everything you’re doing to complete any tasks that a given email may have created for you. When you clear your inbox every day, you can do one of four things with each message:
- Delete it forever – This is for messages that you do not require action on your part and won’t need to be references later (marketing emails, for example).
- Archive it – This is for messages that might need to be referenced later but don’t require action on your part.
- Archive it and add any required actions to your task manager – This is especially useful when the required action may take a substantial amount of time. By adding it to your task manager, you’re ensuring that you won’t forget about it, and it won’t get lost in the shuffle with other emails.
- Just respond to it – If it’s going to take only a minute or two to respond to the email or complete the required action, just do it.
As I mentioned above, this is only a high-level overview of some of the tools and processes I use in my productivity workflow. If you are looking to implement a similar process into your daily life, I highly recommend Get Stuff Done Like A Boss: Design Your Workflow and Double Your Productivity in 21 Days.
Questions? Comments? Reply below or find me on Twitter – @zkuzmic