It’s hard to share my workflow in complete detail, but here are some broad strokes:

  • I use OmniFocus on my Mac, iPhone, Apple Watch, and HomePod to capture anything I need to remember to do. These end up in my OmniFocus inbox.
  • I spend at least 10 minutes at the end of each day organizing my to do items, assigning them due dates, projects, and work contexts, and deciding what I’ll do tomorrow. I try to ensure that I don’t have more tasks than I have time to complete, so I attend to my calendar while doing this, calculating my available work time.
  • I aim to decompose all to do items into 10–15 minute chunks. For example, rather writing a to do item like “Do taxes” (which might take a few hours), I write a to do item that is “Make a plan for doing my taxes” (which might involve five other to do items like gather my documents, ask my spouse for documents, enter the documents in TurboTax, submit the documents, etc.).
  • When I don’t know how to decompose a task, I find someone who does. I might even make a to do item like “Find someone who knows how to do this task and ask them to teach me”
  • If I don’t make it through all of my tasks in the day, I reassign them to the future.

One of the things that make this work is that I’m very disciplined about checking my to do list, and having it drive the work I do. I’m also sufficiently motivated to do all of the work I do that starting and finishing a 15-minute task is rarely that difficult.

The big downside of these practices is that my days can feel like a fairly mechanical race to check things off my daily list. The upside is that I get a lot done!

(Checking off “Reply to Medium reply”!)

Professor of programming + learning + design + justice at the University of Washington Information School. Trans; she/her. #BlackLivesMatter.

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