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Let us be productive this year!

January 9, 2011

Art by Tsurui

Eventually, life will force you to become very organized because things just keep compounding every year it seems. I tried various software over the years, but it is hard to beat pencil and paper – this year I might need something more though. I conducted a brief research and found a few web-based tools that I really liked.

Plan

Chiyo-chan is an A-student, a genius, but she can forget things sometimes. Don’t let this happen to you! Clearly define specific tasks that need to be done, organize, prioritize, and schedule them. Getting Things Done (GTD) is, probably, the most well-known organizational method, and there are many applications for it, but the one I really like is Nirvana (Invite code: LIFEHACK, review on Lifehacker). Another very popular tool is Remember the Milk, but I prefer Nirvana’s interface.


Track

Chiyo-chan is also a good cook, but sometimes she produces not what she intended, and the evidence that she cooked something might be quickly consumed😛 Another important part is keeping track of your daily activities and things you accomplish daily. How much time you spend studying? How many miles did you run? Of course you can do all these things in a spreadsheet of your choice, but it is nice to have a web-based free service with good interface and summary statistics: 42 Goals. A similar, but simpler version is Joe’s Goals and another service with more advanced graphing options is Track-n-Graph


Do

My name is Fox, and I am a procrastinator😛 Actually doing the tasks you planned can be the most difficult part. Remember that the perfect is the enemy of the good. Also the key is to split your task into small easy fragments, reduce distractions, and set a time limit. This article summarizes these steps well, and you can check out other posts on the topic.

The Pomodoro Technique

1. decide on the task to be done
2. set the pomodoro (timer) to 25 minutes (like this or that)
3. work on the task until the timer rings; record with an x
4. take a short break (5 minutes)
5. every four “pomodoros” take a longer break (15–20 minutes)

Good luck!😀

Further Reading: 21 Excellent Tips For an Amazing & Productive New Year

10 comments

  1. Thanks for the post. Some useful stuff there, such as the pomodoro. Will definitely start doing that and try and get things done lol..
    (this reminded me that I need to go and buy myself a diary/planner for this year…)

    =)


    • You are welcome🙂 Glad you found something useful🙂


  2. You know, I have no use for planners or diaries, even electronic ones so I can forget about keeping track of daily activities. I do however have a useful almanac where I circle important dates and jot down a simple phrase or two of what I need to do on those dates or one line reminders. I keep past ones for records in case I need to recall certain things that happened at a certain date. I do procrastinate on doing certain tasks but who doesn’t? Having said that I don’t let it become a habit because by nature, I don’t like backlogs of anything. So, whatever I put off doing in the beginning will eventually be settled, just in a time frame I choose.😀


    • Yes, as I mentioned, I used to do the same thing as you: I just had a pencil and paper set-up, and it was fine. However, the times have changes. There are so many things in my life right now, and so many things keep changing because they depend on other people as well – the paper becomes messy very quickly. That’s why I switched to a digital system, and I love it so far! Still have to improve on my procrastination and improve some of the habits though, but the tracking thing is helping to make some progress🙂


  3. I read your post and realized that I have been using wi-fi-free coffee shop as the mean to eliminate distraction. That works really well. Actually, I just did exactly that last Saturday and finally finished my research proposal.🙂


    • Ah, that’s a good way to prevent distraction🙂

      Yay! Congratulations! You’ve been working on it for some time now – glad that you finished it🙂 I also finished and sent my major project! We are awesome!😀


  4. Hmmm.. I am testing this out at the moment. http://www.workflowy.com/


    • Yes, I heard about that one, and it looks good. It seems to be a very flexible and simple list editor. I might try it too, but Nirvana works really well for me so far.


  5. I am very late ne? It was my first time to hear that Pomodoro technique, I doubt there such a thing “timer” here at home.

    I always try to write what I should do, but the problem is, I always have this calculating habit of what’s the minimum time I could finish it — which is sometimes underestimated😄, thus leading to cramming.


    • Never too late🙂

      You can use an online timer or buy a simple kitchen timer – they are very inexpensive.

      One way to do it is double the time of your estimate to make it more realistic😛



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