50. What rules do you impose on yourself at work? #LifeWideLearning16@bhwilkoff
— Zac Chase (@MrChase) February 19, 2016
I have tried the pomodoro technique and timeboxing. I have tried Kanban and Wunderlist. I have tried Basecamp and Pivotal Tracker. I tried each of these products and ideas all in an effort to be more organized and focused at work. Each of them has failed spectacularly to have their desired effect.
I blame their inherent complexity for this. Even Wunderlist, which is an incredibly simple tool, adds a layer of complexity to a rather simple process of working on one task and then moving to the next one. The multiple lists and different scopes of work, while helpful, ultimately prove daunting and are abandoned for simplicity and focused attention to a given task at hand.
And so, I do not have rules set up for task management. Instead, I have rules for attention management. After all, tasks are infinite and my attention is not. The following are the rules that focus my attention while doing work:
Note: Each of these assumes working primarily from a Macbook Pro.
- Any application that can be made full screen (and thus separated from the other applications), should be. Mission Control and trackpad gestures should be used extensively to switch between applications. Applications that should remain in the dock and open at all times are as follows:
- Twitter should always be available via a single column of Tweetbot in a side-by-side full screen app with the primary browser window (creating a streaming sidebar of tweets). Live tweeting should be done often during meetings and as ideas arise.
- No notifications for email shall ever be used, as they distract so completely. Email shall only be checked after a task has been completed. Email shall never be the thing that stops creation from happening.
- Browser tabs will all be managed and cleaned up by utilizing the Tab Suspender extension (ensuring any tab not used for the last 15 minutes does not eat up CPU resources).
- Multiple times a day, OneTab will be used to clear out unnecessary clutter in each browser window. This should be done on each Chrome Persona/Person that are open.
- Pocket should be used whenever there is a webpage or blog post that requires extra time to read.
- Notes should be used whenever there is a PDF that requires more time to read. (This will then sync to mobile and then can be used with VoiceDream on my commute.)
- Reminders should be used whenever there is a website that requires additional time to digest, research, or understand as well as for informal task compilation.
- Bit.ly should be used for whenever a resource, website, or link must be shared (creating both an archive and a way to tweet directly from the browser).
- IFTTT should be used to capture each favorited/liked tweet, bit.ly bookmark, and important link within a hashtag in a Google Sheet.
Because of these rules, I am able to focus my attention and make the most of my time. It may seem obsessive or idiosyncratic, but it helps me keep sane.
Do you have these kinds of rules for your work, or do you approach your workflow differently?