How I Work – An analog notebook

Over the last half decade I’ve developed and refined a few methods of approaching the work day and getting things done.

As a front end web developer and office administrator my workflow doesn’t fit a static routine. Coding, working with vendors, setting up and attending meetings, event and project planning. Over the last few years I’ve done a lot of “delegated to me” work. This is how I organize what I can and how I deal with everything else.

Don’t predict the workday but identify patterns and plan for chaos

I used to plan everything on a daily calendar right down to the hour only to become frustrated when I’d have to extend or reschedule.  Over a year I planned everything and It was working better than using my inbox as an disorganized to do list. 

Patterns started to emerge. Monday and Tuesday mornings are filled with emergencies or prioritized and re-prioritized goals and Thursdays suffered from last minute “delegated to” email dumps or procrastinated replies. Three days of the week were almost always in some sort of flux, Wednesday and Friday emerged as the two days where chaos didn’t routinely occur.

Consolidate the inboxes to a single to-do list

Digital to do lists email, hangouts, slack in person chats, meetings, post-its, phone conversations all compete against each other for your time.

The fastest method to I’ve found is to organize every thought, meeting, to-do, random task, and unplanned item into a to-do list using Bullet Journal’s Rapid Logging method into a notebook. I can then close every distraction that competes for my time and focus on a single task with fewer distractions for some time.

Left: The entire month with first letter of the day of week at a glance. Right: A daily rapid logged bullet journal. Everything I note or have to do is collected in real time.

My lists look roughly like this.

a “bullet” • is a basic to-do item
a “dash” – is a note
an “open circle 0 is an appointment or event

If an item below is related to an item above I indent it a bit.

05.07.17 Sunday

  • • Add Owen’s video to webinar page
  • • Build Brenda’s web form
    • •Fix jquery issue with forms
  • – Vice President left for 2 hour meeting at President’s office
    • – Will return at 3:30
  • O 2:00 p.m. governance meeting

That’s pretty much it, there are a few extra tools for calendaring long term projects and colleting reference information but I’ll save that for a later post.

My Hardware

      Pencil or pen, doesn’t matter (It’s a plus if it can stay in my pocket without stabbing me)An A4 notebook

Leuchtturm1917 notebook

    or similar with enough pages to last several months. (Small enough for travel or to keep at the desk)

  • A Field Notes  or Word. memo notebook for actual travel as it will fit in just about any pocket.

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