Keeping Your Head Above Water-Managing Tasks in An Ever-Busy World

I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m a lazy ass. But laziness doesn’t get you anywhere in life, and it wont pay the bills, feed the family, or benefit any relationships. So naturally I had to find ways to combat my natural state of apathy. I first began being interested in productivity methods when I entered college. For the first time I had a workload that was more than I could manage without some sort of organizational tools. Looking into many different tools, I realized I didn’t need anything fancy. That’s where my Productivity rule #1 came into being.

Rule #1-If a productivity tool or method takes an inordinate amount of time to manage, it becomes counterproductive.

So I developed a three part system of managing everyday tasks.

Part 1-The Calendar (Long Term, Not Urgent)

Any online calendar will work for this part. My calendar of choice is built into Windows Live Mail. This program allows me to have all my email in one place along with my calendar, allowing for easy entry of dates and events. Linking my hotmail account with my Facebook also populated my calendar with all my friends birthdays. Anything that I have going on for the long term goes in my calendar.

Part 2-The To-Do (Short Term, Everyday Tasks, Urgency Varies)

The to-do list is perhaps the best known method of getting things done. but by itself it lacks integration with actual life. I use Evernote as my program of choice for my To-Do list. I have dabbled with simple texts files synced through Dropbox, Microsoft One-Note, and a couple other programs, but Evernote works well for me because I already use it to clip articles from blogs I follow. I can easily use my iPhone to access Evernote and enter in a quick task or record some information to put in my calendar.

Part 3-The Whiteboard (Short-Medium Term, Weekly Tasks, Generally Urgent)

I bought a cheap whiteboard/corkboard combination for this section. After finally getting the damn thing to stay stuck to my wall I could use it as a sort of motivational tool. By recording the most important things I have to do each week on the whiteboard, I take the task out of the nebulous realm of “yeah I should get around to that…someday” to the hard reality of “Stop watching Starcraft 2 commentaries and get busy you moron!!” The corkboard portion is also useful for pinning up bank statements, phone bills, etc. This not only gives me easy access to them but keeps my desk clear of crap.

This system works by keeping my tasks separated by both time and priority. I can easily shift a task from one portion of the system to another and ensure that they get done in a timely fashion. But the most important element of this system is simplicity. It takes very little effort to maintain this system, and I don’t get bogged down by the tools I am using.

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