Overwhelmed. Exhausted. Burnt out.
All of these feelings happen when we have too much to do and perceive that we do not have enough time to complete the tasks at hand. Personally, when I let to-dos stack up and deadlines infringe closer and closer, I hit what I call DEFCON 5: my brain just stops and blocks me from completing any tasks. No one wants that. It’s messy and I already broke three vacuums.
Combating DEFCON 5 has taken me years to figure out. I learned it through reading blogs and talking to friends and co-workers about what works and does not work for their workflows. I have not read every single personal workflow book or blog on the internet. Truly, I don’t want to do that. It bores me. Maybe if I need to fall asleep I will do that. True story: I have been known to read the Gettings Things Done book to help me fall asleep. Sorry, David. Much love to you. And sleep to me.
So what does my workflow look like?
-It’s a combination of Gettings Things Done (GTD) and Kanban
-Tools: Gmail, Trello, IFTT, and Siri
-Trello is sorted into six columns: Incoming, TO DO NOW, Scheduled, Working Progress (WIP), Waiting Reply, Done
On Monday morning, all tasks from my brain are dumped into the Incoming column. This brain dump frees up my mind to not run benign cycles on tasks that are stuck inside my head. I combine personal and professional tasks on the same board because, guess what, if I need to vacuum and that task is taking up mental RAM, then that lack of RAM prevents me from being creative at my job. So vacuuming goes on the same board as responding to tickets. If I think of tasks during the weekend, I will write them on a post it and leave it on my desk. For me, opening the Trello app triggers my brain to think “work! let’s start!” Thus, I avoid opening Trello unless my working hours have started. Alternatively, you can set up IFTT and use Siri to remind you which IFTT then pushes to Trello as a card. I use IFTT’s link options for fun images (at the bottom when you create the IFTT) to auto-generate from certain sources. It makes “Muggle Hustle Monday” a smidge more enjoyable. The Incoming column tasks are then sorted into the other columns. This is you prioritizing your day.
The TO DO NOW column has a max of five tasks. These five tasks must be completed before I can move onto other tasks. This has its limits with escalations or emergencies that arise from customers or your boss, though most days it works for me. I limit the list to five because my brain sees five as tangible, do-able. Perhaps less items are more tangible for you. When I worked in customer service taking incoming calls and tickets all day, I had a max of two things in this column. Why? Because customer issues came up a lot more frequently than in subsequent positions.
Last, I review the WIP and Waiting Reply to see if I need to poke anyone or re-prioritize the day. If so, I move these cards into the TO DO NOW column along with cards from the Incoming column.
When tasks are complete, I move them into the Done column. I do not archive cards in Trello because I have found that un-archived cards are easier to CMD+F in the browser (versus using Trello’s native search feature).
At the end of the day, I evaluate my tasks to see what I did. It’s basically a Gen-Y, everybody-wins trophy to see what was completed.
There are dozens of other integrations and hacks in IFTT, Trello and Gmail that can also work for your personal workflow. I encourage you to tweak your workflow, find a semblance of a flow that works, and re-tweak a few weeks later.
How does your workflow work?