Time & Tasks Management

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I guess we are all busy with multiple projects and tasks, what tools are you using to improve your productivity?

I'm interested to hear about tools related to:

  • Tasks management
  • Time management
 

BootstrapBill

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Like a lot of us I've really struggled at certain points with time management - I've gone through pretty much every tool, app and technique.

I love the idea of creating an awesome system that almost manages me but alas I don't think it exists.

What does seem to work is using a combination of Teamwork.com, paper and a calendar.

I keep all my tasks in a Teamwork project so each morning I come into the office - check Teamwork for tasks that need to be done and then check email for anything urgent that might have come in overnight.

I'll take out pen and paper and pick 3 tasks that simply HAVE to be done today. I ask myself "if I only did 3 things today, what would I be satisfied completing?".

Once I have my 3 tasks listed under a heading of "MUST DO TODAY" I will add another heading below called "TO-DO TASKS" and list everything else for the day below it.

Then I go to my Outlook calendar and schedule the 3 must do tasks into my morning. When estimating time, I always add an extra 10 minutes as humans are awful at estimating.

I'll leave a 10-minute gap between tasks to allow me to get water, go to the bathroom or find my next Spotify playlist.

Once the big 3 are scheduled then it's time to fill up my day with all my other tasks.

The important thing is to get these 3 tasks done - I'll work late just to make sure that I don't fail.

Before I leave the office I check email and drop any new tasks into Teamwork with a due date where applicable.

On the drive home I'll ask myself if I'm happy with my productivity today and try to think about how I could have been better if performance was poor.
 

BootstrapBill

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It's the only thing that consistently worked for me.

I've found the key is that once you've got everything down on paper, you have drop it into a calendar - that way you can work around meetings.

Another advantage is that when the boss comes over and asks "what are you working on?" you always know... even if you do have BuSo open in another tab!
 

BootstrapBill

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@iam_mine - I use Teamwork.com for keeping track of tasks, pen and paper to plan my day and have a visual reminder of what I need to do and Outlook to arrange my day.

I use exactly the same system for managing my IM work only swapping out Outlook for Google Calendar.
 

Ryuzaki

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I use Trello to stay organized (after trying just about every other option out there). The kanban system is fantastic.

Like @BootstrapBill I pull out the most important things for the day and then close Trello. I put those items into a plain text file that I leave open on my desktop, where I add notes, keep track of whatever details as I'm going through the items, and eventually delete them when they are done.

By the end of the day, usually the main tasks are deleted and I might have some additional unrelated notes to add into Trello for later.

The plain text file is like a sticky note but digital that is for today's events only. Trello is the overview that can handle the big picture and the smallest picture, so that I can always reference it without worrying about carrying open loops in my head that I'm bound to forget.
 
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I use Trello to stay organized (after trying just about every other option out there). The kanban system is fantastic.

Like @BootstrapBill I pull out the most important things for the day and then close Trello. I put those items into a plain text file that I leave open on my desktop, where I add notes, keep track of whatever details as I'm going through the items, and eventually delete them when they are done.

By the end of the day, usually the main tasks are deleted and I might have some additional unrelated notes to add into Trello for later.

The plain text file is like a sticky note but digital that is for today's events only. Trello is the overview that can handle the big picture and the smallest picture, so that I can always reference it without worrying about carrying open loops in my head that I'm bound to forget.
I've tried Trello in the past and didn't like it, but I decide to check it again now and I must say I'm very impressed it's really good and I like to create a card based on my site/project, thank you!
 
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TeamworkPM is very solid because it handles everything, can even use it as a CRM too. Asana, Trello, Basecamp all work too. I had to bounce around for a bit because of the type of work I was doing. When I was doing heavier client work I used Teamwork, then when I switched to more internal projects and Trello makes more sense.

My system is kind of like kanban/GTD philosophy of creating 3 categories and moving tasks through them. The categories I use are: Later, Upcoming, Today.

The general process would be (i.e. how to structure this):
  1. Devise a business strategy/idea.
    (Example: Redesign website, promote event coming up for email sign-ups.)
  2. Determine goals and objectives from strategy/idea.
  3. Determine milestones for goals/objectives.
  4. Split goals/objectives into tasks (if you have a team this is when you assign tasks).
  5. Tasks will be split up into the categories: Later, Upcoming, Today.
This is all put into a Google Calendar as well where you can better assess if you will make milestone deadlines or not. I timeblock everything weekly too in Google Calendar. Also note, this is for managing entire projects as a whole, not just day-to-day operations. I found when I fixed this a lot more things started clicking for making huge progress.

I highly recommend Toggl for time tracking. TeamworkPM has its own builtin time tracker which is nice (if you're using that). I time track pretty much everything too, lot's of useful data there on where I need to hire out or adjust. Plus I pay team members hourly and that's where they put all their time.
 
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Golan

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Guys, does somebody use OneNote for organizing personal projects? Please share your experience. I'd like to try it but honestly I'm scared of a time I need for learning it, so some practical advises would be very appreciated.
 
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Guys, does somebody use OneNote for organizing personal projects? Please share your experience. I'd like to try it but honestly I'm scared of a time I need for learning it, so some practical advises would be very appreciated.
What about Evernote? I think it's much more easier to use
 
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I've been using Trello for client projects and my team members and it's a great tool. But never heard about Toggl. Thanks @juliantrueflynn , ve started using it and it's fantastic

TeamworkPM is very solid because it handles everything, can even use it as a CRM too. Asana, Trello, Basecamp all work too. I had to bounce around for a bit because of the type of work I was doing. When I was doing heavier client work I used Teamwork, then when I switched to more internal projects and Trello makes more sense.

My system is kind of like kanban/GTD philosophy of creating 3 categories and moving tasks through them. The categories I use are: Later, Upcoming, Today.

The general process would be (i.e. how to structure this):
  1. Devise a business strategy/idea.
    (Example: Redesign website, promote event coming up for email sign-ups.)
  2. Determine goals and objectives from strategy/idea.
  3. Determine milestones for goals/objectives.
  4. Split goals/objectives into tasks (if you have a team this is when you assign tasks).
  5. Tasks will be split up into the categories: Later, Upcoming, Today.
This is all put into a Google Calendar as well where you can better assess if you will make milestone deadlines or not. I timeblock everything weekly too in Google Calendar. Also note, this is for managing entire projects as a whole, not just day-to-day operations. I found when I fixed this a lot more things started clicking for making huge progress.

I highly recommend Toggl for time tracking. TeamworkPM has its own builtin time tracker which is nice (if you're using that). I time track pretty much everything too, lot's of useful data there on where I need to hire out or adjust. Plus I pay team members hourly and that's where they put all their time.
 

MetaData

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@Golan I like OneNote, I don't use it anymore because I just use "Notes" on Mac because it's dead simple. Just watch a video or two on OneNote and you'll be all set. It has a really short learning curve and as you use it, you'll find your own systems that work best.

 

Golan

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@Golan I like OneNote, I don't use it anymore because I just use "Notes" on Mac because it's dead simple. Just watch a video or two on OneNote and you'll be all set. It has a really short learning curve and as you use it, you'll find your own systems that work best.

Thanks Meta, this video is just what i was looking for.
 
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I use Todoist and Evernote.

But really, the tools themselves don't matter. I'l bet all of us know guys who get an insane amount of high-leverage tasks done with nothing but a Moleskin. Hell, I used to use 4x6 index cards.

Seems to me that developing good work habits - for example, the ability to focus when the kids are screaming, the doorbell is ringing and your friends are calling/texting/emailing - is more important than the tools themselves. Next year, there will be a raft of better time management tools. But they won't replace the ability to hunker down, focus and get stuff done.
 
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@Misogynist I would disagree there that the tools don't matter, the tools are really important and can help save time. Doing something like writing it down on paper means harder to share with your business (i.e. employee/partners/clients), also you lose options for automation (there's no API on a stack of paper). 100% agree with you though that people 'over organize' and don't actually get to the work part.
 
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@Misogynist I would disagree there that the tools don't matter, the tools are really important and can help save time. Doing something like writing it down on paper means harder to share with your business (i.e. employee/partners/clients), also you lose options for automation (there's no API on a stack of paper). 100% agree with you though that people 'over organize' and don't actually get to the work part.
Admittedly, my remark about time management tools being unimportant was extreme. Otherwise, I'd not be using Todoist and Evernote.

I overreached in my zeal to convey how crucial it is to develop good work habits. A lot of folks flit back and forth between tools, hoping those tools will make them more productive and better managers. That can definitely happen if good habits are already in place.

But we're marketers. As a general rule, we lack focus. We can outcompete and out-hustle our competition by putting in more hours, but there lies the path to burnout. I wanted to get across how important it is to first develop solid work habits.

tldr: I agree with you.
 
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What about Evernote? I think it's much more easier to use
Jesus Christ I hate Evernote lol. I realize different people like different things, but god I hate it so much.

Guys, does somebody use OneNote for organizing personal projects? Please share your experience. I'd like to try it but honestly I'm scared of a time I need for learning it, so some practical advises would be very appreciated.
I use OneNote for two things. I write full-time in a niche industry.

First, I have one section broken up into different pages for different clients, and they each have subpages for each individual piece of content I'm going to write that includes my notes. For the sake of clarity, the client page has notes for that client specifically, then there are subpages under that client for notes on each individual piece of content if that makes sense. I populate these content-specific pages usually before each timed "session" of writing that I have.

Second, I use a different section for reference ala GTD. I have pages in that section for different lists like songs I want to download, movies I want to watch, books, etc. I have a page for motivational type stuff, notes on the cycle for any girl I'm seeing (so I know when she's ovulating, PMSing, bleeding, etc.) and other collections of stuff I need for general reference all in one place.

I use Todoist and Evernote.

But really, the tools themselves don't matter. I'l bet all of us know guys who get an insane amount of high-leverage tasks done with nothing but a Moleskin. Hell, I used to use 4x6 index cards.

Seems to me that developing good work habits - for example, the ability to focus when the kids are screaming, the doorbell is ringing and your friends are calling/texting/emailing - is more important than the tools themselves. Next year, there will be a raft of better time management tools. But they won't replace the ability to hunker down, focus and get stuff done.
While I think we can all understand your point, I feel like the tools have to match what you're doing to some degree. I think what you're getting at here is the same thing I've been harping on people for a while, and that's paying attention to both strategy and tactics when it comes to the whole realm of personal productivity.

By strategy, I mean choosing the tools you use based on how they're going to help you over the long run with staying organized and saving time. By tactics (see the bold above), I mean being able to make the moment-to-moment decisions that keep you doing the stuff you need to be doing.

On the topic of Todoist, I use it for my inbox for all of my "note to self" type of stuff. I have an IFTTT thing set up where I can send a text message and it's added to my inbox since sending a text from my phone is about 10 times faster than opening up the Todoist app. This stuff gets processed ala GTD for the most part with OneNote being what I use for holding references and lists like I mentioned above.

I also use Todoist for recurring reminders, event reminders and things like that. My girl's parents might be like, "We're having a chicken stew on October 26" or whatever and expect me to remember that in like June, and I'm just like thank god I'll get a reminder from it via Todoist because I would have no clue otherwise since I talk to them like six times a year.
 
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As already mentioned by @juliantrueflynn I also like to use the Kanban technique (KanbanFlow) paired with Evernote and this little app Calendars to manage upcoming events. That's all I really need...

Besides that I always have some paper and pen lying on my desk if I just need to write some quick thoughts and sketches. Old school.