Laura Vanderkam has a post up asking for stories/tips for successful workdays. I've been meaning to write some more productivity posts, but haven't been able to, because I am so swamped at work that I have to work at home and instead of blogging. Ah, the irony!
So I've decided to post some short tips/ideas.
1. I use daily to do lists that I write either before going home the night before or first thing in the morning to make sure that I focus on the most urgent things- as well as the longer term things that I need to do before they become emergencies. Basically, I make my strategy for each day in my to do list, with a goal of not ending up either focusing too much on immediate issues or too much on the more fun things at the expense of more mundane issues that will turn into emergencies if I don't deal with them on time.
I was amused to see Coding Horror rant against to do lists recently. I was about to write a rebuttal post... but then I realized that the root difference is that we have very, very different jobs. He apparently has one big project and should be focused primarily on that. I have roughly 10 projects I'm trying to keep moving along (I am only doing management work right now, not technical work- I am actively trying to hire a junior project manager so that this balance can change). I also have my group to manage, and the random BS stuff that comes from working in a company of any size. If I used his method of coming in each day and working on the thing I most wanted to work on... well, I would probably be unemployed pretty quickly.
Neither of our ways of working is "the one true way." The trick to using any productivity advice- including mine- is to match the advice to your situation.
2. I try to make sure that I do the right work at the right time. I do the more challenging stuff, like planning out a new project or brainstorming solutions to schedule or technical issues, at my most productive times, which for me are first thing in the morning or right after lunch. I do things like updating my project collaboration sites or the paperwork that comes from being a middle manager in a company during my most brain dead times, which are right before lunch and right before going home. There is no point trying to do something really hard when my brain is in need of a break, and using my most productive and engaged times to do something as mindless as paperwork would be a complete waste.
My other "right work at the right time" trick is to write policies, system descriptions, and similar sorts of documents at home with a beer. About 1/3 of a beer removes my corporate document-writing block, I find. I also often polish meeting minutes and update action item lists at night- I'm usually too mentally tired to do anything requiring deep thought, but getting these things done at night gives me a head start on the next day.
Do you have any tips and tricks to share?