Michael Ekstrand


Published on 23 Apr 2017 and tagged with productivity.

My productivity system is working fairly well at a few levels: I feel like my day-to-day and weekly tactical planning are in good shape, as well as my pipeline management and some medium-term planning. However, there are a couple of notable holes that I'm still looking to fill.

Temporal Planning

While I have a decent handle on my overall pipeline, I currently do not have a good way of tracking or planning when pipeline changes happen. What am I working on next month? When am I working on X project?

The extent to which this exists, I currently carry it around in my head. And I'm not sure what a solution would look like, especially given that I am very bad at timeboxing and actually sticking to a time-based plan of work.

I've thought about trying to put a calendar on my wall that would let me see my planned emphases for the coming ~6 months, but I'm not sure that'd work very well. And I'm running out of wall space.

A Bucket 'o Tasks

I also do not currently have a good way of tracking miscellaneous tasks that I need to do. I have tried using Wunderlist for this, but it's another thing to check and hasn't made it in to my practical weekly review/planning very well. I have tried notebook pages but also found them to be ineffective. In practice, this winds up being my e-mail inbox (if reviewing systems didn't send out reminders, I never get reviews done on time) and the Trello boards and issue trackers I use for collaborative projects (and even there I am not great at keeping up on them).

One problem is that there are so many trackers. I have my Trello boards, GitHub issue trackers, the occasional tracker elsewhere, and Wunderlist (two Wunderlists, if we count home and work).

There are two categories that these tasks fall into: project tasks (how to move a project forward; I count each class as a project) and non-project tasks (reviews, one-off service responsibilities, infrastructure maintenance, etc.). If something comes up that I need to do this week, I can write it in my notebook, but if it's further out I do not have a good place to queue it.

Moving Forward

So far, I'm able to keep on top of most of the things that I need to get done without great solutions for either of these problems. I'm looking, but closing these holes is not my top priority. I am thinking about moving all my misc. tasks from Wunderlist into Trello, just to reduce the number of distinct things I need.