Hybrid digital/analog tangible week planning

Here’s a neat method that helps me organize my week, increase my productivity and fight procrastination. 

Being a freelancer data scientist, I’m involved in three hands-on projects for two clients. I also manage/mentor two data scientists in two other projects, and participate in strategic discussions for a customer of mine, and in a startup in which I invest. Oh, I am also in the final stages of writing a paper. I never imagined I would be in the situation with so many balls that I need to keep in the air. How do I manage to keep sanity? 

This is what I do. Following the advice in “15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management“, I try to keep as many items in my calendar as possible. When my workweek starts, I print out the weekly schedule on a sheet of paper. Then, I apply the tangible GTD hack that I learned from another book [link] and write out all my projects on a bunch of small post-it notes. These notes allow me “dumping” all my brain contents into an external medium, which frees up my brain to spend more CPU cycles on processing, rather than remembering and worrying. 

Next comes the fun part, I get to play with my cards by arranging them on the weekly schedule. The geometry of the post-it notes and the sheet of paper ensures that I allocate reasonably larget chunks of time for each “big thing.” It also reminds me that the amount of time each day is limited, and I can’t stick too many plans into a day or a week. (No, I won’t be able to finalize the paper, complete the analysis for a retail shop, learn a chapter in Bayesian statistics book, before the end of today).

After I’m done, I copy each post-it note into my calendar. Thanks to the integration with Todoist (an excellent productivity tool), all these tasks end up in my todo list, where I can further work with them.

To sum up:

  • Global week overview – check
  • Prioritization and honesty – check.
  • Fun playing with sticky notes – check.
  • Work gets done – (I wish!).

Oh, did you notice the appointments between 5 and 6 am? This is my sports activity. Sometimes working out charges me for the entire day. Sometimes, all I want to do for the entire day is to have a nap 🙂

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