Productivity, Recap, and Accountability

This is partially part of the series Recap, but only loosely so. It will not have the structured Notes then Response sections. Instead, it will harken unto my previous post on productivity and what I learned and am implementing from two recorded Praxis Group Sessions with Amanda Grimmett.

[I do have one note. I avoid swearing, but in this case it was in the name of the workshop.]

Maximizing Your Output:

Have a plan for the day to have more focus and structure. At the end of the day write down what you did and what the next step is to decrease ramp-up time.

Have a list of priorities to return to when you get pulled in different directions so you know what to do when you get back.

Dedicate blocks of time to projects.

Ask bosses when they need a requested task done so you can prioritize it.

Getting Shit Done:

Dump, sort, work. List everything that needs done. Then sort tasks into categories and prioritize them. Then get to work.

Recommended online tools: Wunderlist, Trello, Asana, Monday, Swipe

Implementation:

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I have a large notebook I bought at Walmart for $4 or $5 bucks. I write the date and day of the week, today’s time-specific obligations, and tomorrow’s time-specific obligations. Then I draw a line and write my to-do list. Everything after the to-do list is notes on what I’ve done, notes on live calls for Praxis, or sometimes notes on recorded Group Sessions as well.

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Additionally, inspired by the GSD workshop, I reached out to my cohort, the participants who started Praxis at the same time as I did, to start an accountability group. We’ll push each other to meet our Praxis goals, both short term weekly goals and the long term whole bootcamp goals. We’ll also keep each other accountable to other goals we set for ourselves.

Recently I’ve had a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed at almost the same time every night and getting up at almost the same time.

I don’t always approach my work in an orderly fashion, doing a lot of task switching. Not in the middle of a task, unless I get stuck or otherwise need a break. Once I get into a groove, I can bust out most of my to-do list before I head to Walmart in the early afternoon. By switching tasks I can continue working without getting burnt out or bored by continuing to focus on one thing.

For example, I’ll work on blog posts for a while. Sometimes this is as simple as editing the notes and response I wrote for some content I consumed, as for Recap, or it’s more complicated, like My Birthday: A Reflection. Then I might switch to check in with the Over the Invisible Wall team to remind them of work that needs done so we stay on track and taking care of anything that they need me to do. Then I’ll switch to working on my Praxis deliverables or giving feedback on my cohorts’ deliverables.

My Trip to Millstadt

Last week I used my day off to take a trip to Millstadt, IL. If you didn’t know, I’m writing for the Millstadt News magazine once a month. This month I was researching the old drug store. The problem: I couldn’t find the information I needed online. So I drove about forty minutes one way to go to the Millstadt Library and interview two of the pharmacy’s former owner’s children.

I learned a few things:

  1. Know ahead of time if a certain library has the necessary resources available by calling them or looking it up online. I wasted a good deal of my day sitting in the Millstadt Library, unable to get any further in my research. A different library had the old newspapers I wanted to look at, but I didn’t have time to go there.
  2. Plan for an interview by having questions you think you want to ask. Some of these may not need asking during the interview, depending on what you learn and what you already know about who you’re interviewing or the topic you’re trying to learn about. Going into my interview, I had questions based on misinformation because my research didn’t give me a clear picture of things. This is okay. Ask new questions that you think of based on what you learn.
  3. Be sure to ask if you can record the interview so you can double check details and will not miss anything. I forgot to ask about recording my interview. I know I lost some interesting details that were shared because I was in the middle of writing down the previous thought.

It was a good trip, worthwhile overall. For the amount of time I spent, though, I would have liked it to be a bit more productive. If I take writing-related trips in the future, to Millstadt or elsewhere, I will be better prepared as best I can. As this was my first, I went in rather blind.