Six Things

Over the years I’ve worked on my workflow and personal way of managing tasks, and for the past few years I’ve been using my own methodology almost daily. I’ve toyed with the idea of turning it into a business/app of some kind, but after literally years of reflection, I’ve settled on publishing this post as an outline of the methodology.

And maybe if folks find this useful I can build out some template or an app of some kind!

The Todo List Never Ends

You’ll always fill out your day with tasks 🙂 As a lead at Automattic, I’ve got a seemingly never ending list of tasks I could be working on, and I could fill many days with todo items. Ultimately it comes down to prioritization, and what I should be working on for a given day.

But how do I know what the best thing is to do? And what if everything is important?!!

In my early career I was influenced by Getting Things Done by David Allen, and I also had a system in my diary (I wish I had photos of this!!) where I had to get my most important task done first. Then when I moved on to WooThemes, Matty Cohen was a big proponent of plugins doing 1 thing really well. We had many many conversations about this 🙂 And this also influenced me heavily.

Another component I’ve draw inspiration from is leaders I’ve worked under; from my White Wall Web days where the managing director Peter Flynn used Index Cards for projects – telling me if I couldn’t distill the primary goals of the project down onto 1 side of an index card, it was too complex – to Jeff Bezo’s talking about making 3 high quality decisions every day;

What if I’m not a Leader/Manager?

So, the immediate criticism of this approach is where you’re working on clearing a backlog or triaging incoming requests. For that approach, your tasks aren’t going to be issue 1, issue 2, issue 3, etc….it’s going to be a higher level tasks such as “clear the queue” or “solve 10 issues” – the point of my system is not to be restrictive. It can be as granular as you want it to be.

The point is prioritization and completing the tasks in order to build momentum.

Let’s Get Practical

To make this work, I needed motivation, and a way to measure how successful I was being. So I gamified it. And gave myself rewards 🙂 Here’s how I break it down;

I’m aiming to complete my primary tasks every day, and an overall completion rate of 75% – if I’m less than that per week, I’m not on track and can dig in to where I’m failing, either my tasks are too granular or too wide in scope – or they are clearly not the right priority.

In this example, I did not hit my targets for the week – you’ll see on Tuesday and Friday I didn’t complete my primary task. Friday I wasn’t as focused and wanted to work on some “fun” tasks, but this came at the expense of the main thing – which is not good! I would’ve felt ok about this if I hit the 75% goal, but still…I should be hitting 75% for primary tasks every week.

Also, I made a point of rewarding myself if I hit my 75% goal, whether that was a super nice high quality cup of coffee, or a book, or something reasonably nice that I wanted to do – I made sure to reward myself 🙂

A Video Walkthrough

A Bit of History

I’ve spec’d this out as an app over the years, and there’s a gallery below of what it could look like. I have pages and pages in multiple notebooks about this…and I’d love to build this in WordPress for sure as a hosted app, probably on multisite, but I’d also like to build this out as either templates or instructions how to do this in each of the major todo apps like “Things”, “Super list”, “Google tasks”, “Todoist”, “” etc – people have their own preference for todo apps. I don’t know if we really need another one!

And I like to use my index cards and stay offline as much as possible 🙂

Anyway, that’s my ramble, I hope this inspires some folks, and maybe my method will help you too. I’m gonna work on the app/templates as I get time, and I hope this is the kickstart/accountability I need for me to actually build this thing that I’ve sat on for years!

Hit me up on Twitter/X, LinkedIn if you have questions or feedback for me on this!

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