Now that I’m starting the New Year, I’ve settled into an organization system that works pretty well for me. I thought I’d at least record it here if anyone’s interested, including my future self who may look back on this system as an unmitigated disaster and wonder what I was thinking.

WEEKLY PLANNER

The first part is a weekly planner I carry around – yes, a hard-copy. It’s a little booklet folded down to 3.5 x 6, which I’ve found is a good size to fit in my pockets. It has 2 pages for notes, then a list of long-term goals I have (with weekly milestones), and upcoming events. The main point is a daily planner section in the middle (I make a new one each week). On the left page is all of my daily tasks, and the right side is a daily schedule. I update it diligently, and record my hourly usage (if i have time, I’ll upload a sample page).

The last page is a review section, where I total up how many hours I spent each day on tasks, and then write a review of the week, noting room for improvement, and so on. It also faces my 6 month goals, “this month” goals, and weekly goals (which also appear at the top of each daily task list, so I make sure my daily tasks align).

KANBANFLOW

I use the Pomodoro technique to stay productive. Last year, I was only using my planner, but was not NEARLY as productive as I would have liked. The pomodoro technique keeps me accountable, and assuages my guilt over doing things for fun (I’m a little obsessive about productivity). I work for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. Every fourth break is 15 minutes.
I also use the kanban system, with each column being a day of the week (though the first is “today”, followed by “done”, and the last 2 columns are “next week” and “later”). I sort the cards by the order I need to do them and get started. The cards match tasks on the daily agenda in my weekly planner.
Kanban flow combines a pomodoro timer with a Kanban board, so it’s great. I’m still working on totaling numbers, but my average productivity has probably increased 8-10x so far this year!

OpenProject

Finally, to track work for software projects, I use OpenProject. It’s open source, ¬†enjoy it, have contributed to it (okay, I fixed a grammar mistake…), and it’s been very useful. I put a lot of detail in the user stories and tasks, and then reference the work package # in my planner and Kanban board.

That’s my org technique. Time will tell (or has already told, future self) how it works. I imagine I’ll continue refining it, though – every week so far since mid-May 2014 I’ve made some minor tweak or another.

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