Coding 5 to 9

Written by Sebastian on Sep 20, 2015 in Productivity

What works for me

I struggle like most people with getting things done. I have read books and a lot of blog posts. Most didn't work. I have implement some of the things David Allen suggests in "Getting things done". I am keeping my inbox at zero most days with the tips from Andreas Klinger. But that's about it. Nothing else ever worked - 5/3/1 tasks for the day, Pomodoro, keeping hand-written task lists, using various apps.

Thinking about "why" rather than "what"

One of these days I sat down and though about why I wanted to be more productive. What I wanted to achieve. I didn't start with yet another methodology which might or might not work. This is something I am missing from almost every blog post on productivity. People tell other people what to do, but seriously, if you don't have any reasons for being productive, why would you apply those?

Another thing I am missing from those tips is a reminder that people are different and most tips won't work for you. So, my next tips might not work for you. Try them anyway ;)

Three steps to productivity

The first thing I do (and actually did for quiet some time) is writing everything down. I have a "Next Actions" Trello board which keeps everything I need to do. Small items (clean up desk) and big projects (my upcoming blog post series on "Developer Workflows by Example" are both in their. I also keep a list of all my current projects. Both help me to get things out of my head and not forget about them. From the day I started it, the times I had to say "Oh, I did forget about this" went down by a lot and the times I said "Yeah, I know and will do it as soon as I have the time".

The second thing I started is writing a journal every night. It's rather short and takes about 5 minutes. It's hand-written and I split everyday in "Body" and "Mind". I write down how I felt that day, both physically and mentally. It helps me realize what kind of day it was and where I am at. Feelings that go unnoticed come out at night and I can process them. It's a great tool for me.

The third thing I picked up is writing down the most important 3 tasks for the next day at night. I make sure to balance things and keep the tasks small, making them possible to achieve even if the day goes different than planned. Today is Sunday and my list had "Write three emails", "Cleanup living room" and "Write blogpost" on it.


The hardest thing for me is having such a rythm and then missing a beat. Usually, these things happen and I start losing focus. Not this time. As I have the "why" this time, missing a journal entry or not completing an item on my todo list is not that bad. The "why" is still there and didn't change, so I start again.

And so, I just keep going. Every day, just like that. All three things don't take up a lot of time and can be done with a minimum of time. The three todos items keep me focused. Of course I'll achieve a lot more on any given day, but those three are the major ones for the day.

And to keep my motivation up, every once in a while I'll slip a fun but not that important task into the list as well ;)