Just One Task a Day

More Energy Project #26

A few days ago I started to do just one task a day instead of trying to manage a long todo list. I usually never get the things done on the list anyway.

Now I have made a list on my iPhone of tasks that I can choose from, and every morning I pick the task of the day. It works well and these days I have accomplished more than ever.

Read my article about todo lists.

I made a quick search on Google; it turns out that I’m not the only one who realized that todo lists not always works. “Just One Task a Day” gave 23.500 results.

The great thing about this strategy is that I  feel energized about getting things done and I do more that is not on todays list. In the end I actually get more things done than I would have with a long list of todos.

15 Productivity Tools to Get Things Done

Productivity Books © Erik Back 2012

I see all these great systems that can enhance my productivity, but which one should I choose? I found this great article on Lifehack: [Why You Should Learn a Productivity System] that explains how important it is to stick one system and learn that system.

In this article Dustin Wax points out how difficult it is to make at choice when there are more than two options. It would be so easy to choose a productivity system if there were only two of them.

While making a brainstorm I realised that I could easily name 5-6 six systems, but how many systems are there?

What system would best serve my purpose? Celestine Chua doesn’t think that you can find one system that fits all your needs [The Best Productivity System There Is]

What characterise productivity tools? E.g. is Appreciative Inquiry considered a productivity system?

Why would I want a productivity system at all?

There are a bunch of questions about productivity systems that I would like to explore further and today I will start a list of productivity tools and philosophies that support productivity systems.

Productivity Tools and Systems

  1. Zen To Done (ZTD) by Leo Babauta – Technique
  2. Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen – Technique
  3. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey – lessons in personal change
  4. Todoodlist by Nick Cernis – Technique
  5. Open Space Technology (OST) by Harrison Owen – self-organisation
  6. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) by David Cooperrider – organisational development
  7. Productive Points by Jason Clegg – Application to motivate; not really a system
  8. Just In Time (JIT) by Toyota – Technique
  9. Kaizen – Japanese improvement philosophy
  10. Six Sigma by Motorola – a manufacturing process with focus on quality
  11. LEAN by Toyota – production management
  12. Action Learning by Reginald Ewans – learning to increase productivity
  13. Do it Tomorrow by Mark Forster – technique
  14. Autofocus System by Mark forster – technique
  15. Mind Mapping by Tony Buzan – technique for keeping perspective

This list is far from complete, but it’ll have to do for now. Searching the Internet can be quite exhausting and I still have a to-do list to attend to.

Which tool is your favourite to get things done?

Do you know other tools that should be on my list?

Kitchen Catastrophe Went Smooth With To-do

Shelf © Erik Back 2012

What do you want most of all after a long day at work? I think most people would like to get something to eat and get their feet up.

Apparently one of our shelves in the kitchen had other plans, so it decided to jump of the wall and thrust its residing jars all over the kitchen floor.

The jars were shocked and popped open as soon as they hit the floor. In seconds the floor was covered with almonds, seeds, beans and pieces of glass.

No one got hurt except from the dishwasher that got a couple of bruises and some bent ribs; the door was hit and is now crooked. Furthermore, the dishwasher was filled by the contents of the jars.

I cleaned up the mess and took pictures for the insurance company. Then I made my to-do list of the tasks that followed the incident.

Usually an episode like this would stress me, but now I feel calm and I have a good sense of perspective. Everything I have to do is on the to-do list and the tasks are small and easy to do.

On Top of Catastrophes

Small accidents will always happen in my life, and they will be much more frequent when our son is born in September.

The trick is to stay on top of the accidents and catastrophes and turn them into insignificant incidents that will happen eventually.

I have learned that I can do that by simplifying my life and work on my productivity habits.

Keep a Sense of Perspective With ZTD

Nice path © Erik Back 2011

I have started to implement ZTD to become more productive. Being productive has some advantages: Less stress, peace of mind and it keeps me motivated.

ZTD is short for Zen To Done and it is a simplification of the GTD concept (Getting Things Done). ZTD is a work and life management system based on habits.

Day 2 with ZTD

Habits take time to make and I have decided to spend one month on each of the 10 steps in ZTD.

I have set up my iPhone to handle my captures and at the end of the day I transfer my captures to a to-do list. I use the simple Notes app for iPhone and the All-Done app.

I like to keep things simple and I immediately felt the effect of this exercise. While transferring my notes I could see a simple to-do list form in groups, each with a sub-list of to-dos.

All-Done neatly organised my to-dos and I got an instant sense of perspective. I felt motivated and wanted to start doing some of the tasks right away.

Today I have more peace of mind.

The Habits of Productivity

List © Erik Back 2012

Do you know the concept called Getting Things Done (GTD)? I have just discovered it and it sounds great.

GTD is developed by David Allen and it is a work-life management system.

I like to keep things simple and I like to get things done. But sometimes there are too many things I want to do and everything ends in a mess.

I stumbled upon GTD while I was searching the Internet for more energy. At first the concept seemed overwhelming to me, but then I found a bunch of articles about GTD at Zen Habits.

Leo Babauta, who runs Zen Habits, has studied GTD closely and he too found that it was very complex. Leo decided to combine GTD with his own habit management system and the result was Zen To Done (ZTD) – the ultimate simple productivity system.

He wrote a series of articles with 10 steps on how to implement this system.

Get the habit

After discovering this ZTD I started to think about how I could implement this system in my life. I would love to become more productive because I have a million projects at work and my wife is an inexhaustible source to projects at home.

My first task was to find a way to take notes and capture them. For this purpose I searched for apps for my iPhone. It was difficult to find some simple apps to do the job but I settled on iPhone’s own app ‘Notes’ for taking notes.

I have downloaded a million different todo-lists but none of them are simple enough. After a while I found an app called ‘All-Done’. It is a very simple list you can manage online as well.

Now I just have to work on my new habit: Capture things on Notes and transform them to a todo-list.

I will do this for about one month and I will keep you posted on the project.


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