Update (December, 2016): I now use ToDoist to organize my day in much the same fashion. I find the interface is a bit more modern, syncing across devices is faster, and the ability to collaborate with others quite handy!
Inspired by workflows of many Omnifocus gurus, I developed a routine to track and prioritize how I spend my day.
The workflow is based on life goals—ideally 4-5. For me these include:
Each goal is a Folder containing projects. Projects are steps towards a goal. To become a better programmer, I may create a project to study algorithms. Not so hard!
A project requires several tasks: read chapter 1, complete exercises 2.3, watch a tutorial on sorting. Each task is specific: something I can accomplish in an hour or two.
Throughout the Day
Inevitably tasks come up throughout a day. Rather than juggling priorities or todos in my mind, I dump tasks into the Inbox:
When I’m not sitting at my computer, there’s a handy iPhone app to capture anything I want to do.
Email is large source of tasks. I try to check email only a handful of times per day. Ideally, I touch each email once: I turn an email into a task, mark it as done, or defer it until it’s relevant. I find Google Inbox is a nice interface for accomplishing this.
To decide how to spend a day, I dedicate about a half an hour every morning to populate and process the Inbox:
- Turn any communication from Slack, email, or platforms into tasks in my Inbox.
Categorize each task into a project
- add a due date if I need to deliver a task by a certain date
- defer until a later date (when task is relevant)
Next, I go through each goal, prioritize the projects under each:
- Flag tasks I want to take on today
- Assign each a one of three Contexts: priority, next, and dreamy
Priority is the first task or two I’d like to take on for the day (typically the most important); Dreamy are is for tasks that would be nice to accomplish, but not necessary; and Next for the rest.
As I begin working on a task I move it from next to priority. On some days, I find it helpful to block-off times on my calendar for a particular task or use the Pomodoro technique—I use an app called Pomodoro One for this. The order of tasks, projects, and goals helps me visually prioritize what I should be working on. Et voila!
In case you’ve been wondering, I did create a task for this post.