Being a recent college graduate I spent the last year being pretty aimless. I figured that working my butt off getting two degrees would set me up (whatever that means). But about six months ago, in addition to being neck deep in hundreds of unread emails, I realized I didn't have any plan for What To Do Next. I wasn't working on anything bigger than myself.
A couple of months ago I started reading about structuring my time to be more productive (not quite "GTD" though). This has really changed my outlook on tasks and goals. I've learned that my mind is a sieve and I need to write down my ideas. I need to lay out clear and specific tasks so I can plan and execute. And I need to regularly check in on my progress.
In addition to these things being fun—it's a nice to take a break and sit down with myself to examine what's going on inside my head—it lays out a clear path to continuing what is good in my life, improving what is not, and achieving the things I promised myself I'd do.
So let me shed some light on the resources—in addition to the above links—that have helped to bring me here, even if it's just the start of really getting things done in my life:
- Marc Andreessen's Productivity Guide
- This was the first post on productivity (after having seen many prior) that really hit home for me. Marc is a successful technologist (of original Netscape fame for one) and great blogger. So it's no wonder that he has a system behind it all. I really like the bits on email and daily todo lists. It has changed my inbox from a wasteland of junk requiring constant maintenance to a tool that serves me instead. And he thoughts about not keeping a schedule are pretty entertaining.
- This is the canonical on-line technology driven productivity blog. The editor, Gina Trapani is a smart cookie. I found it early and I read it often. It's full of links to other sites (not a bad thing), but there are occasionally excellent articles on personal productivity.
- Web Worker Daily
- Remember how I said Lifehacker is full of links to other sites? A ton of them go here.
- Zen Habits
- ...And if they don't go to WWD, they go here.
I'm really just starting out on the road to productivity. But already I've seen measurable success. Marc's advice on managing email was a life saver. I cut through the crap, and respond quickly to urgent issues. I prioritize issues as they come in and keep and eye on things I need to follow up on. And his daily todo list is an amazing idea. It changed my days from the endless question of "what did I accomplish today?", into a directed execution plan. And keeping the task items small, to the point, and actionable, as Gina suggests, is key. I pick up the list and do what it says, it's as simple as that.
If you've got tips about being productive I'd love to hear about them. I'm always looking for self improvement :)