Tag Archives: productivity

Time Management

One of my struggles over the past few months has been finding a time management system that works. I have tried every system out there over the past year and I have to say I’ve finally determined that time management systems are extremely personal. What works for one person will not work for another and even if it does work for another person it may work in an entirely different way.

So I’ve found what works for me is David Allen’s GTD or Getting Things Done system with pen and paper. Call me old fashioned but I like the feeling of using a pen to cross items off my To Do list.

I use a separate page or pages for projects.

I use a separate page for diffent contexts of tasks: @Computer, @Desk, @Home, etc.

I cross reference projects and tasks using numbers and letters. Letters for projects and numbers for tasks.

Like I said it works for me. But I’d love to hear what works for you?


Seriously behind…

Just a quick note. I am seriously behind as a result of vacation. I’m getting emails that people say they’ve sent for the third time because I have not responded. I’m taking tomorrow to catch up on email, update my task lists, update my calendar. Then I can breathe and start posting again.

In the meantime if you have a time management tool that you like or method, please share via comments.

Are you a procrastinator?

I never thought of myself as a procrastinator until recently. If you want to find out for sure, take this quick test from University of Calgary at Procrastination Central.

I scored 80%. My full results are below. I’ve emboldened some of the text and added some notes and observations in red.

Your score is 80 out of a possible 100

Usually a Procrastinator

You rank in the top 10% in terms of procrastination. That is, when it comes to putting things off, you often do so even though you know you shouldn’t. Likely, you are much more free-spirited, adventurous, and spontaneous than most. Probably, your work doesn’t engage you as much as you would like or perhaps you are surrounded by many easily available and much more pleasant temptations. (This is so true in many ways. It’s hard to be engaged in work when you don’t feel valued or when you are constantly overlooked or ignored. For those of you who know me you might not agree with this but it is how I feel and that is after all what matters. Temptations are everywhere. Like I said in Friday’s post, one small Google search can end up wasting an hour or more in finding more information online.) These temptations may initially seem rewarding, but in the longer-term, you see many of them as time-wasters. Though you are likely incredibly productive just before a deadline, you might not get all your work done and there is a lot of unwanted stress. You may want to reduce what procrastination you do commit. If so, here are three tips that have been shown to work:

Goal Setting

This is one of the most established ways of moving forward on your plans. Take any project you are presently procrastinating and break it down into individual steps. Each of these steps should have the following three aspects. First, they should be somewhat challenging though achievable for you. It is more satisfying to accomplish a challenge. Second, they should be proximal, that is you can achieve them fairly soon, preferable today or over the next few days. Third, they should be specific, that is you know exactly when you have accomplished them. If you can visualize in your mind what you should do, even better.

Stimulus Control

This method has also been well tested and is very successful. What you need is a single place that you do your work and nothing else. Essentially, you need an office, though many students have a favorite desk at a library. For stimulus control to work best, the office or desk should be free of any signs of temptation or easily available distractions that might pull you away (e.g., no games, no chit-chat, no web-surfing). If you need a break, that is fine, but make sure you have it someplace at least a few minutes distant, preferably outside of the building itself. If you are unwilling to take the time to get there, acknowledge that you likely don’t need the break. (I have an office but I really think it is the Internet that distracts me. Along with my RSS feeds, chat windows, Twitter, Meebo. Yep I need to unplug.)


Routines are difficult to get into but in the end, this is often our aim. Things are much easier to do when we get into a habit of them, whether it is work, exercise, or errands. If you schedule some of those tasks you are presently procrastinating upon so that they occur on a regular schedule, they become easier. Start your routine slowly, something to which you can easily commit. Eventually, like brushing your teeth, it will likely become something you just do, not taking much effort at all. At this point, you might add to your routine, again always keeping your overall level of effort at a moderate to low level. Importantly, when you fall off your routine, inevitable with sickness or the unexpected, get back on it as soon as possible. Your routine gets stronger every time your follow it. It also gets weaker every time you don’t.

This just reaffirms some of what I already knew. How about you? Are you a procrastinator?

Getting Things Done

So after my gripe Friday about not getting anything accomplished, I’ve spent this week reviewing the book Getting Things Done and installing the software on my computer. I’ve gone through hundreds of emails deleting most and following up on others. I am trying to only file a few for reference.

I found a few emails that were read but I never replied to. Apologies were sent to those people while I noted to myself that there has to be a better way. I know that there are people who get much more email than me and they keep up, or do they?

Other than that and the usual day to day work, I’m working on a personal mission statement with my mentor.