Productivity?

I’m not usually the most efficient worker, but I try to be the most passionate. This tendency leads to many ideas being touted, expressed or initially developed while few of them actually deliver exactly on time or mistake-free. Not the best qualities in a project manager, but I’m trying. I really hope to hone my managerial and organizational skills this year and so I’m asking for some help.

How do I become more effective? Not just organized. Not just timely. But more effective. Productive, if you will.

My manager highlighted some “best practices” of our group this morning, one of which was digital sticky notes. My first download after the meeting: Sticky Pad. I don’t know how useful this particular app will be since I utilize the web-based, RSS-powered Tadalist for most of my daily “to-do” tasks. Admittedly, I’m not the most religious user, but I do make an effort. Plus, being distributed, I can access my list anywhere and share it with co-workers to judge priority level. I haven’t done these things yet, but it seems to me like a better system.

Tadalist is made by 37signals, the group behind the design of the wildly successful MeetUp and the developers of Basecamp, a Microsoft Project-like project management and task management tool. I’ve never used a tool like this, but our group recently got a license for MS Project and I’m managing a project that will utilize project this week. (Confused? Me too.) Of course, I did sign up for Basecamp a while ago, so perhaps I should be trying it out as well.

Another route for me to go in my personal productivity/effectiveness journey would be “Getting Things Done“. I’m new to the “GTD” world, but I do know that 43 Folders is the blog of choice for GTDers and that this “Hipster PDA” is the first step in my journey. I don’t currently have a regular Palm/Blackberry/PDA that keeps me in line, but I do have 3×5 cards. Maybe this religion is for me. :-)

Lastly, I could always try Tasks Pro: “a powerful web-based task manager (to-do list manager) that allows you to organize your tasks in a hierarchical structure”. It’s developed by King Design which is headed by Alex King who also runs the WordPress 1.5 Theme Competition, where this site’s theme, Curtains Up, is competing.

You see how easily I just veered off topic in the preceding paragraph? I need some help. I need a software or hardware solution to my obvious shortcomings. I need a lifehack, here.

Please help me, Internet. Advise me. Console me. Guide me.

I am supple putty in your firm yet gentle hands. Tell me how I can achieve my goals through judicious use of the tools readily available to me.

Am I on the right track? Will I succeed?

Stay tuned to find out.

2 thoughts on “Productivity?

  1. Dave says:

    I’ve been reading 43 Folders for a while (they also have a wiki up at wiki.43folders.com and it has a ton of time-wasting pages to read with lots of good tips and life hacks). I use a Hipster PDA and I have a sexy moleskine notebook etc… My impressions:

    1 – Nothing will make you more productive until you figure out what you need to be more productive. That sounds all Zen-like, but someone else’s ideas might not work for you. For me, the Hipster PDA works well because I have a really bad short-term memory. One of the key GTD ideas is that you should free your mind – get stuff on paper instead of taking up space in your head.

    I’ve discovered that writing stuff down has two benefits: my head is clear for one, and second – if it’s written down, I feel like I have to do it. If I write down:

    Go to bank.
    Print directions to restaurant for dinner.
    Call mom to talk about dirt.

    I feel like I have to do them instead of thinking to myself “oh yeah, I should call mom. I’ll do it later.” Crossing stuff off of paper (or throwing away the whole list when it’s done) is so rewarding.

    2 – Somewhere on 43Folders (or the wiki) was a flowchart for deciding what to do. One of the blocks said “Can I do it in 2 minutes?” or something similar. If you can, it says “Do it now.” I use that as a personal metric and get a LOT more stuff done.

    Of course your mileage may vary, but there’s a lot of good ideas to try.

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