One of the main topics I will write about here is my attempt to be more productive.
Here is an earthy summary of my thoughts on productivity. I have a lot of shit to do and it’s taken about 15 adult years of not getting as much of the shit done as I would like to reach the following “you don’t say?” realization. There is no gadget (love you iPad, but sorry not even you) or tool (even the fabulous Good Todo online to do list that I use) that can substitute for good old-fashioned time management skills. My key issues seem to be getting my head out of my ass about estimating how long tasks will take to complete, and then actually scheduling my days with a reasonable number of tasks. Shall I even mention the difficulty of staying focused on tasks that aren’t very intellectually stimulating in the era of instant entertainment gratification?
I wish I could say that some gadget or tool has totally revolutionized my life and drastically increased my productivity, but I can’t. In my case, too many tasks clog up my to do list to the point of distraction. Here is a screenshot of my to do list for today (my review of Good Todo is forthcoming). You don’t have to be familiar with Good Todo or my specific tasks to know there’s no way I’m going to get all that stuff done today. This isn’t even today’s original list, which contained 41 tasks when I woke up. Since only about 30 tasks fit on the screen without having to scroll to view them all, I postponed some tasks before making the screenshot.
I’m having some difficulty deciding what the appropriate scope of individual tasks should be. Some tasks are pretty simple like making a grooming appointment for my dog, but others are multi-faceted tasks that are quite time-consuming to complete. The “clean house” task makes me laugh every time it pops up, which is every Saturday because I keep moving it from one weekend to the next. Tasks that involved usually aren’t going to get crossed off my list in one day, so they just keep moving forward again and again. Breaking up larger tasks into smaller pieces is somewhat helpful, but also adds to my list’s clutter.
My next step for increasing productivity is to be more critical in my assessment of how long tasks will take me to complete and then to limit each day’s tasks to a set I can reasonably complete that day. I also need to schedule my time more explicitly (assign tasks to specific days and times). A few years ago, I was surprised to receive a package from my mother-in-law. She had seen Julie Morgenstern on Oprah and was impressed enough to order her time management book for me. At the time I remember my thoughts included WTF?, but now my main thought is hopefully there are some words of wisdom in this book that will resonate with me. We’ll see…