Posted on Mon 21 October 2013

How I manage my daily tasks

I recently changed the way I manage my daily tasks, and I'm finding it a much better way to stay on track. I tend to be one of those people who likes experimenting with productivity apps and task management methods, but this time I've actually just stumbled across something that happens to work. I designed it myself over time, based on how I already work, which is how I think most successful productivity methods are probably developed, since we all work differently.

Using a done list

Since joining Buffer I've been using iDoneThis, along with the rest of the Buffer team, to document what I get done each day. Although I'd heard of the idea of a done list before, I had never been drawn to try it myself. Now that I have, I can definitely see the merit in it.

As well as tracking what you get done each day, iDoneThis sends you a daily digest of what everyone else in your team has completed. This is a great way to stay up-to-date with other team members, particularly in a distributed team like we have at Buffer. We try to limit our 'dones' to around five, in order to make the digest a manageable read as our team grows.

I've gotten two good things out of this:

  • focusing on just a few important tasks
  • and taking note of what I got done each day.

It's something I'd like to implement for Hello Code as well, so that I can easily report on what I've done at our weekly catch-up meetings.

MITs and reviews

As I was researching a recent Buffer post about daily routines, I came across an idea I've heard many times before: choosing three Most Important Tasks (MITs) each day, that you must get done. Anything else you complete is just icing on the cake. But this idea never gelled with meā€”until now.

With the idea of reporting back only five tasks to the Buffer team at the end of each day, it suddenly seemed to make sense that I would choose those five things to work on ahead of time.

To make sure I'm staying on track and choosing the right tasks, I start by reviewing my task manager and picking one or two big projects to work on. These will usually be blog posts or other content-related projects. Then I add smaller tasks like reviewing blog comments and responding to emails to fill out my day.

I keep my Buffer list to a maximum of five tasks, with the idea that these are what I'll add to iDoneThis at the end of the day. This helps me to stay focused and get done what's important without going off on tangents.

Planning ahead

I've never been big on planning, as I like to go with the flow whenever possible, but I've realised recently that flexible planning can be really beneficial. I've started writing out my daily task list at night, ready for tomorrow, so that I don't waste time doing it first thing in the morning. This helps me to jump right into important work the next day, and to be able to get a good idea of how my day will play out before breakfast.

I add tasks for Hello Code and personal tasks to my list, as well as any appointments or events I have on. This helps me to get a kind of bird's-eye view of my day and keep track of how much time I have to fit everything in.

So far this is working well for me, and I'm enjoying the daily ritual of planning for tomorrow.

No doubt my approach will change in the future, but this is what's working for me right now.

P.S. I make some stuff you might like: Exist, a personal analytics app to help you understand your life, and Larder, a bookmarking app for developers.

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