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Like most people, I generally feel like I am just trying to do too much. My day is filled with far too many things that I have to do, along with a full list of things that I should do. I don't have as much time as I would like for the tasks that I want to do, but even these extra tasks that are really meant only for myself also add weight to my day. The cost of all of this is less time with family, less time for pursuing our own hobbies, and less time taking care of ourselves.
The issue is that we don't just feel like we are too busy -- we actually are. One way to combat this is to make sure that I am as productive as possible when I need to be, which hopefully allows for more time that I can use to relax and recharge. This post is about how I structure my day to ensure that I stay on task and finish what I can to make myself feel productive, which actually plays a large part in being more productive. Being productive leads to a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction which tends to feed off itself and leads to more productivity gains.
Being productive is a heavily influenced by creating a habit and sticking to a system. There are many strategies for productivity out there, which we'll cover in future posts, but I wanted to first show how I personally use Ctitch to stay on organized, on task, and as productive as possible.
At the heart of my productivity strategy is a daily list of tasks. When opening Ctitch, it will take you to the current day. From there adding a list for the day is as simple as clicking on the list icon in the add post bar. This will add a new list, and title it with the current day's date. You can then easily just add any tasks you want to accomplish. There are, however several additional, and less obvious ways to add tasks to your daily list.
My day usually actually starts with the previous day. In an ideal world, I finish all of the tasks that I assign myself each day, but in reality, there are generally several unfinished items at the end of the day. I like to review the list I created yesterday to see which items I didn't finish, and make sure my current day's list includes those. With Ctitch, it's pretty easy to just move those items to the current day, by clicking on the down arrow for the list item. This will add it to the current day's list.
I usually have several projects that I'm working on, and I create folders within Ctitch for each project. This is where I drop notes, bookmarks, and other relevant items for each project. I also add a task list for each project. After I review any unfinished items from the previous day, I usually look through the list items for each project, and using that same down arrow, I add those tasks to my current day's list. The great thing about using that simple little down arrow, is that tasks added to my daily list is synced directly with the project task list. Once I cross the item off on my daily list, it automatically gets crossed off on the project list.
I have quite a few tasks that aren't really related to projects, so I keep a running list of tasks that always gets added to. These are things like doing my taxes or writing a letter to my grandmother (that's been on my list for a little too long). Once I created my general list, I made it a "daily sticky", so it appears every day. To make a daily sticky, just click on the list's title bar, or the pencil icon in the lower right corner of the list, and look for the checkbox labeled "daily sticky". Adding items to your daily list from this list works in exactly the same way as syncing from any other list. You can also move items between lists by dragging a list item from one list to another.
I try to build healthy habits for myself, and one way I do this is to utilize recurring tasks. There are several things that I strive to complete every day, or selected days throughout the week. Things like writing a journal entry daily, or making sure I go for a run on Mondays and Wednesdays are important personal goals. I also should do things related to business, like contacting a client every day, or making sure I do some business tasks that always get put off. Adding these things to my to do list on a daily basis helps to ensure that I actually accomplish those goals. In Ctitch, you can make any task recur at set intervals, just click on the 'repeat item' icon for the list item you would like to schedule. You can then select which days of the week, or which days of the month you would like to schedule the task for.
I like to see what I've done. In Ctitch, there are a couple ways to do this. It's simple to click the 'Show Completed' checkbox, which will include all of your finished items for that list (with a nice, satisfying line through them). You can also click the history icon, which will bring up a list of completed tasks broken down by day. The history shows a simple listing of everything you've completed for your previous three weeks, so you can get a good sense of how much you've been accomplishing.
Since I keep my daily to-do list and notes in Ctitch, it makes sense to keep my schedule in the same place. In one view, I can see the tasks I want to complete, the time I will devote to those tasks, and any other notes that I decide to write down throughout the day. To add a schedule, make sure you are viewing a day, then click on the 'Daily Schedule' link on the extreme right-side of your browser window. This will bring up an hourly grid, where you can click-and-drag on the hourly grid to add new events. You can also click the 'Add event' button at the top of the schedule.
I always have Ctitch visible. I always find myself needing to quickly write something down -- I usually use the 'Quick Note' box at the bottom of the Ctitch window for these quick notes or thoughts. I sometimes just add a note at the beginning of the day, and just add random thoughts and notes to it throughout the day.
I listen to a lot of music throughout the day, and at least several times per week, I find myself writing down new songs and artists so I can check them out later. Again, that quick note box is great for this. I usually write something like "#music - Modest Mouse - Missed the Boat". Adding the music hashtag helps me to search for all of my personal music recommendations later.
I read articles throughout the course of the day. Some of these are related to whatever I'm working on, and some are just nice little distractions. Whenever I read something interesting, I usually use Ctitch to bookmark it and save it for later. Often times, I just bookmark it on that daily view and move it to a folder that's more relevant at a later time.
Usually I find myself starting long articles when I should really be working on something else. Ctitch is great for this since I can just quickly bookmark it and read it later. Since everything in Ctitch can be organized by day, I run back through my previous week during the weekend and read all of those articles I started, but never finished.
I also use Ctitch to congratulate myself, and to track my workouts and other accomplishments. If I have a particularly awesome day, I click on the badge icon in the add bar and I give myself a 'crown badge' for the day. It's admittedly a little silly, but I like giving myself a little prize if I had a good day. I also use badges to add my runs to the daily view. I add a badge for the run, and then once it's added, I can click on the badge to add my mileage. Ctitch even creates a little graph of how much I've run during the past several weeks. With Ctitch, you can add data to any of your badges, whether it's miles run, the level of happiness for the day, or how many pushups you did that morning.
I have big plans with Ctitch to make it an even better tool for planning my days, weeks, months, and life in general. I have my own ideas on what improvements to make (full daily scheduling, embedded pomodoro timer!), but if you have thoughts on what you would like to see added, definitely send me a note using the comment form below!
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