Archive for getting things done

Time Tracking & Management

Posted in DIY, Health, Inspiration, Life, Productivity, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2008 by blakejohnson

I’ve been working on managing my time recently, a little, trying to be productive and whatnot while maintaining a healthy lifestyle too.  I recently discovered a number of posts at Lifehacker (duh) that were pretty helpful in pointing in the right direction.  Through them I found both Tick and RescueTime, the latter of which being the most interesting.

Tick is a project-management webapp that basically allows you to list your projects, keep track of individual tasks on each of them and define how many hours each should take, essentially all in an effort to get you to meet your “time budget.”  Tick is unfortunately a trial and only allows you to have one project listed and open (currently being worked on) at a time, with the paid upgrade of somewhere around what I believe was $10.  I currently use Anxiety, though, so I’m probably going to cancel my membership with Tick.

Anxiety is a lightweight, free task management app that is… well… a task manager that integrates beautifully with Apple’s Mail and iCal, giving yo all the benefits of different calendars and events within those calendars, separating your work, personal, bigger ideas.  It hovers over all applications with the option to hide it and each tasks even have handy little check boxes on the side so that once you’re done, you just check it off, and it’s immediately updated as one less to-do in Mail and iCal.  It’s a very useful tool, and its constant visual presence on the screen I find is a reminder of the things I should be doing when I’m doing things like aimless internet surfing or on a YouTube binge.

I really just wanted to post on the blog because of the email verification I got from downloading this app.  There’s a required registration for it, but the email was nice enough of a surprise and the app sounds like it’s going to do a great job, so I’m aiming to keep it.  From the little I found out about it, it tracks what you do while on the computer and send you a weekly report of how you spent your time, as well as offering a range of full-featured graphs and tools to see how distracted you were when you should have been working.  Yup, something I can definitely make use of ;).  Here’s a screenshot of part of the confirmation email:


I thought that was a great change of pace from the typical “Hello, thank you, go to our site, goodbye” messages.  I was glad to receive something like that from what it essentially makes out to be three guys goofing around with their program for the good of others.

So, three programs that can help you (and me) get things done.  The two I use so far work great, though I’ve only had about an hour’s worth of experience with RescueTime running in the background, so really it’s that I love Anxiety.  That mixed with Quicksilver and the built-in Mail and iCal on Mac are a wonderful workflow.  How do you manage your time and your projects?  Let me know!

Review Days 6-7

Posted in DIY, Inspiration, Life, Productivity with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2007 by blakejohnson

What’s the deal?
I’m sure you noticed I didn’t review yesterday and I didn’t post about this morning either.  And this review is also coming much earlier than the other ones, time-wise.  Well, you’re right.  Yep, that’s about all I have to say about that.

Yesterday, however, went fine.  I got things done, I worked very hard for about 7 hours on my PC cleanup project and got it almost completed, though I hit a snag when I couldn’t just reformat the hard drive like I had thought I would be able to.  I’m going to see if I can boot it up from a boot disk and if that doesn’t work, then I guess I’m stuck reinstalling Windows on the machine for a second time.  That would really suck, but if it’s the only option, then I guess that settles the argument.

Alright… today?
Today I woke up on time, but kept lounging around in bed for a while, and had to jump up and get ready for work, rushing in for the morning shift on a Wednesday morning.  Oh yea, we were busy.  No, we really weren’t.  Oh well, it was with a friend and a slow, quiet morning, so we had a decently good time.  I got a tad bit of Christmas shopping done (as in one gift) and did some errands for my mom, so in that mode I was productive.

Come on!  Productivity…?
In my own pursuit, though, I got home and didn’t work on my own projects.  I even was prodded politely by the man I’m working for (not officially, but I’m helping him out on a project he’s working on for a friend of his) asking how my progress was going on the project.  Not so good.  I guess I haven’t been home for a long time, and I can still schedule some work time around food and my nightly entertainment/wind-down session in the basement with some good movie-watchin’.  Tomorrow though I’m going to have to study for my final exam in Sociology – and then it’s finally over!

The whole she-bang!
The productivity project was fun.  It was a great chance to figure out how I work, how I might want to work, and really how I should work and approach my daily life in terms of task-, time- and goal-management.  I still have a lot to learn and a lot of work to do in the area, and I think I’ll keep up the posting on here about each day with a regular, if shorter, installment of the day’s progress.  I’m going to eat dinner, followed by a roto session, followed by my nightly wind-down and fun time.  If anybody’s interested in productivity, definitely keep checking back here, or subscribe to the RSS feed, and check out David Seah’s blog I mentioned a few times throughout this series.  Right now though, I’m off to eat some tasty food.  Yummy!

Productivity Day #3

Posted in DIY, Inspiration, Life, Productivity with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2007 by blakejohnson

Here we go
Well, here I go on number 3.  Good ol’ number 3.  You know what they say, 3 time’s a charm.  I certainly hope so.  Yesterday went well and all, but midnight car problems in the dark on the highway with freezing wind weren’t my favorite pastime of the night.  However, I did decide today that I’m making a list of all the things I have to do, all the tasks and projects, and then writing down things I have to do for those projects, especially tasks that involve the cooperation of other people, so I can be sure to get those done first and then either wait for their responses and do what I can, or work on something else until I hear back.

Very quickly
I’m going to have a short day today, because I have to get to work at about 2, which means the recap post won’t be up until around 10:30-11, but I think you readers can manage.  I’ve planned out the day, but as of right now, it’s not quite going as far as I planned.  I might be able to get it back on schedule, but I’ll find out.  The internet sucked me in a bit, and I discovered that the forms by David Seah that I downloaded to use for today weren’t exactly what I wanted.  So I’m going to have to come up with my own.  But that’s ok, this whole thing’s an experiment anyway.

Next Update
I should postagain about the day around 11, since that’s when I’m sure to be back at home and hopefully settled downstairs with ym computer and some kind of visual entertainment for the background.  Other than that, I’ll explain how I did the task organization idea and how it worked by the end of the day.

Review Day #1

Posted in Inspiration, Life, Productivity with tags , , , , , , on December 14, 2007 by blakejohnson

So, how did it go?
Well, I went ahead and planned everything out as I said in the last post, I got up in the morning and didn’t quite feel like that walk, since there’s snow outside, and I’m thinking I’ll have to adjust that part of my plan to be something else, so it’s not just a constant source of a bad beginning to the day.  Today seemed like the worst day of all to try to begin a productivity schedule.  So many things jumped into the path that changed the plans around that by the evening I just gave in and changed the whole plan.  Overall, though, I still got most things done I’d planned on working on.  I didn’t exercise, and I didn’t do any cleaning up of an old PC I’m trying to empty out before I leave for college in Vancouver, but I worked on everything else.

Organizational Skills?Productivity Day 1 list
I definitely need a better way to organize my list of to-dos and to easily change the schedule without completely messing it up and making it unreadable.  Writing in pencil would be a good start, so I’ll try that.  I’m also trying to come up with a nice, readable form or list styled piece that I can use to plan out each day’s workload.  I’ve gone through the Printable CEO series but I couldn’t find one that looked simple but efficient enough to work for me.  They looked pretty involved, and had a lot of symbols or areas on them that, without reading, were unclear.  That sounds obvious, I know, but I’m thinking something I design on my own might work better for me anyway.  Plus, his designs, though they are pretty sweet, are more about keeping track of all the different things he’s got going at once.  That’s in a way what I’m doing as well, but I’m aiming more to list and schedule each day according to the tasks I have to complete each day.  I’m thinking as time goes on about what my own design will look like.

And how do you feel?
How do I feel?  Awkward question… but since you asked (ok, ok, I asked), it was kind of weird.  They day just felt different.  It wasn’t bad, or good, just different.  I can’t really think of a way to explain it, but it was good to get up and have things to do, planned out, ready for me to just jump on them and execute on after the other.  It wasn’t like a nagging feeling, but it wasn’t a relaxed feeling exactly either.  I suppose I’ll have to explore that a little further over the next few days.  Maybe it was just being a bit lost in this new attempted lifestyle, trying to get things done in a very scheduled manner.  I’ll try being a bit more flexible for tomorrow.

Final Notes
My dad’s coming home from the hospital (knee replacement last week) so that may well take up some extra time, and I’ve got work for most of the day anyway.  However, I’ll do my best to plan and update with another intro segment and review segment here on the blog to track and measure my success day-to-day.  I’ve got the closing shift tomorrow, on a Friday night, which isn’t really much fun.  But hey, maybe it will be, you never know.  Well… sometimes you do.  But let’s hope for the best, shall we?  Yea.