Personal Productivity

As part of this month’s Ideaca Blogging Challenge, we were asked to discuss personal productivity tools.

As a Project Manager, I’m sure you are often asked to, or just do, take care of planning and managing multiple things – not just official work projects. It could be helping coordinate meals with friends, working on home renovations, ensuring that your family make it to various activities, or developing a training plan to achieve a fitness goal.

While some may be quick to lean on Eisenhower’s priority matrix, you know that you should never drop the ball you’ve been handed – even if something is not urgent or important.

So here’s how I get stuff done – think in lists and be deliberate.

Think in Lists

Reboot, work, recharge, work, walk home, recharge, shutdown, reboot, repeat – Optimus Rhyme

It’s really easy to get overwhelmed with having sticky notes, e-mail reminders, tasks, text messages, and all the other myriad of ways to collect what needs to be done.  As a result, I break things down into lists of things that need to be done.   Specifically, I keep a centralized and rolling list of everything that I need to get done for home and work (yes, I am a High D).

Be Deliberate
One of the best things about the PMBOK is that it reinforces that everything needs to be planned, executed, managed, and controlled. Getting your own stuff done is no different. When you are asked to do something, or when you state that you are going to do something, be deliberate in getting it done.  Identify what needs to be done, figure out how you will get it done, and then do it.

You should never be too far away from a method to record what needs to be done.  If you offer to do something via an e-mail, get it into your list; if someone asks you to take care of something in a meeting, get it into your list; if you wake up with the night sweats because you forgot to do something, get it into a list. So, whether you manage your list in a pad of stickies in your pocket, a nice folio, or a great app on your smart phone, getting the to-do recorded is the first step to ensuring that you do not forget to do it.

On Paper

During my first work term during university, I went out and bought a nice leather folio with room for business cards, a couple of pens, a calendar, and a space to write notes.  I immediately took out the calendar section and replaced it with regular ruled paper.  This became my to-do section. I ended up using this method for about 8 years, but retired it after getting my first decent smartphone (I’m not going to tell you which one, lest I start a flame war).


Lifehacker has a great comparison of the most popular to-do list managers.  It was here that I learned about Any.Do – the one that I have installed on my phone and in my browser.  I have used Any.Do for about a year now as a replacement for my former paper list, as my phone is always with me (and I am always with my phone).

However, lately I have found that sitting and trying to add multiple items to this digital list without a physical keyboard (yes, I was a BlackBerry fanboi for a long time) is getting to be either too time consuming or too rude.  As a result, I have started using Any.Do as an interim step before transferring the to do to a new paper list.


So how do you get things done?  Are you part of the cult of GTD?  Do you carry around a hipster PDA? I’d love to hear about it in comments.