Friday, February 16, 2018

Productivity Boost with To-Do Lists

Last week I started experimenting with to-do lists. I started writing all the tasks that I have to finish until the end of the day and check them once they were done. However, it's not only about prioritizing the tasks in hand. I started tracking the time spent for each of these tasks and distractions in between.

My to-do lists look like this:

I used to write them down on my laptop, but now I prefer real notepads as they make you less distracted with what I call "anti-productive productivity" and except that, they look great on paper.

I use Microsoft Windows 10 "Stopwatch" app, which is quite simple and minimalistic. That's kind of what I like.

After writing down the time spend, the title of the tasks done, I also categorize them by productivity levels.

Some insights


What I love about my new tracking and to-do list system is that it makes me more productive and focused. I write my list down, see what has to be done first, open my stopwatch app, start the stopwatch, start doing the work and as soon as I'm done, I stop the stopwatch. Then I write the time I spent for each task on WriteMonkey (my favorite text editor these days). There's no specific reason for that, except I think I could use it later on to analyze my task performing habits.

Another key beauty of this system is that suddenly I found out I have more time than I thought. Randomly performing tasks, multitasking, checking inbox every second or responding messages once I saw them hovering in my facebook tab, made me spent hours on something that should have taken some minutes. I also found out that some of the non-priority stuff takes quite a long time. For instance, checking flights on Momondo and planning the trip to St. Louis, MO took me 31 minutes. Still, I didn't finish that yet! Reading finance slides took me less time.

In general, I would recommend everyone to try experimenting with  to-do lists, while using stopwatch to track the time spent for each task. It's very useful for focusing on the tasks at hand and having more time left to spend the rest of the day.

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