My rules of effectiveness: work with tasks, projects, books and notes

    The most important thing that I realized when I tested dozens of methods to improve efficiency was: what you do is more important than when and how. Without understanding this thing, the use of even the most sophisticated techniques will not give you anything.

    There is nothing worse than doing the work you do not need as efficiently as possible.

    Therefore, before turning on the Pomodoro timer, you need to determine for yourself which things will bring you the greatest result. And after that try to make them more efficient.

    Below I will share techniques that help me to be in time: do the main work and do personal projects without sacrificing sports, reading and sleep.

    Tasks, Ideas, and Reminders

    Over the past five years, I have tried the following task management programs: Todoist, Wunderlist, Google Tasks, Trello, Clear, Reminders, Microsoft To-Do, MinimaList,, Asana.

    As you understand, none of them fit me 100%. In the end, I decided to try, at first glance, not attractive, Google Keep and for more than half a year it is my main hub for organizing tasks, notes and ideas.

    My Google Keep consists of three types of content:

    • Task lists (current projects, lists of future notes, articles or books for reading)
    • thoughts that I want to think about in the coming days
    • quotes and ideas from books that tell something important, or something I don’t want to forget

    Google Keep allows you to make a reminder from any “list”, but I prefer to slander them with Siri. It is much faster and does not require switching between tabs or turning on the phone (Siri is activated by voice on the iPhone and Apple Watch).

    Reading and organizing notes

    Almost all the books I read in iBooks on iPhone 7+, since the phone allows you to use any arising pause with benefit. The second reason is the ability to export notes to the post office, after which, sorting by topic, I transfer them to a separate “Ideas” folder in the Apple Notes program on the laptop. At the moment, I have about 50 notes, each of which contains key ideas from read books.

    Sensible books that address the topic of effectiveness:

    • “Rework. Business without prejudice ”- Jason Fried and David Heinemeyer Hensson
    • “How to work 4 hours a week” - Tim Ferris
    • “Life at Full Power” - Jim Loher and Tony Schwartz
    • "Essentialism. The path to simplicity ”- Greg McKeon
    • “My productive year” - Chris Bailey

    Work with different projects

    It takes time for our brain to grasp the task and start performing it as efficiently as possible (which is called the state of “flow”), so any distraction or switching between different types of activity slows down the work.

    To avoid such problems, I began to divide my day into blocks according to projects and types of activities. I will show how this works on the example of one day.

    From 8 to 4 pm I worked on our startup, and on arrival home, I helped my colleagues with the last project with a presentation for two hours. After that, I went to practice, and from 21:00 I wrote a draft of this article. As a result, my working day, without switching, crashed into several activities: design, sports and writing.

    Inside each block I pause, depending on my passion for work. This is usually about 40 minutes of work and 15 minutes break. In the area of ​​10-11 hours I can go to the nearest cafe to get a little distracted.

    On the way to work and back home, I scribble drafts for future notes or read (at the moment it's “How Starbucks was built cup by cup”).

    Effect of coffee on efficiency

    I like coffee and regularly drink 3-4 cups a day, especially before work, sports and writing articles. But coffee can hurt if you exceed the individual rate or do not take care of proper nutrition. In this case, there will inevitably be a decrease in effectiveness, a loss of focus, and possibly even irritability.

    The main lesson I learned during several years of nutritional experiments is to ask a question when energy declines because of a lack of nutrients or prolonged work?

    Based on this, and choose how to cheer up: take a break, go for a walk, eat or, all the same, drink coffee. If your body lacks carbohydrates, and you prefer coffee, then you will inevitably face an energy decline. Be sensible.

    Social networks and news

    I do not read social network tapes, except for Instagram, since only in it I can control the sources of the received content.

    Several times a week I open the Facebook application and look through a couple of top posts so as not to miss an interesting event or news.

    I disabled the Facebook feed in the browser using the News Feed Eradicator extension. In order not to miss the publication of interesting people, I turned on notifications for their updates (a very convenient feature, if you don’t want to waste time watching the tape).

    I get technology and business news from the Telegram-channel, design news from Yuri Vetrov. I ignore mass news.

    To broaden my horizons, I occasionally buy Esquire magazine, GQ, Men's Health or AD (Architectural digest). The latter, by the way, will be useful in professional terms to the interface designer.

    I rarely read articles, since most of them are useless for two reasons:
    • the author retells thoughts from books I have read enough
    • author's tips are applicable only in his situation

    Notifications on all applications are disabled for me, with the exception of instant messengers used by relatives. This is done so that a random Facebook post does not tear me away from an important business (and any business is more important than this).

    Several times a day, I open applications, check notifications, and respond to messages. Due to the lack of notifications, I have never missed anything important in my life.

    To work with mail, I use Inbox from Google. It is well synchronized with Google Keep and allows you to save any link or publication by pressing the Share button (I used to send interesting links to my email, Google understood this and simplified the process).

    The messages I type are mostly in a voice that Apple kindly translates into text. I do not use voice messages, because I do not know in what context the interlocutor is. In addition, I appreciate his time and try to edit the message so that it better reflects the essence of my message.

    Focus and progress

    The more professional and popular you become, the more people want to work with you. At first, this makes you happy and you do not think about refusing to anyone, but after a while, you realize that it would be better to neglect a new project or meeting for something personal. And let you lose in income today, but after a while these efforts will pay for themselves.

    Now I practically do not take freelance projects, except for those that are able to bring a good income in a short time. As I already wrote, in the future I don’t want to work as a designer, so I’m not interested in filling a portfolio (but if you’re a designer, do not neglect this).

    The main metric I try to follow is the progress in each case I do (company development, reading, writing, sports).

    And no matter how much time it is or how tired I am. At the end of the week is not as important as you felt. What matters is what you did. In this way, step by step, and obey the big goals. Not abrupt jerks arising from the motivational charge, and regular work on the path to something more than yourself.

    Thanks for reading.

    I would be glad if you share your favorite books, applications, habits and methods of improving efficiency.

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