I thought it was about time I updated you on how I’m progressing with Getting My Shit Together.
After I made the pledge on Monday, Fabian from the Friendly Anarchist rightly called me out for being obtuse about what I was actually going to be doing each day, so on day 1 I decided to make it more ‘measurable’ and amended the pledge to ‘will get my shit together and document my progress in a daily journal’. I thought this might at least ensure I am doing something specific each day to progress.
If you are interested in becoming more productive yourself then what follows may be of use as it has taken me quite a bit of research to work out this system.
If you only come here to read about music and couldn’t give a flying rat’s anus about productivity systems then you’ll probably want to ignore the rest of this post as it gets fairly detailed!
Day 1: My Journal Set-Up
I’m adding the journal entries to the native notes app on the iPhone as this automatically adds a date stamp to each entry. The iPhone’s chief weakness is it’s not a lot of fun for typing at length, but I intend to keep the journal entries very short anyway – I am basically inputting what I managed to achieve each day, and what didn’t go to plan so that I can improve in those areas in the future.
This works well as I actually use Simplenote (as championed by John Gruber of Daring Fireball) for all my other random notes, such as ideas for blog posts or stuff I want to be able to find in future (the equivalent of what Charlie Gilkey calls his ‘Idea Garden’).
It syncs to a brilliantly basic and fast web app meaning all my notes are automatically backed up online for future use, and which I can access both on my home and work computers.
Day 2: Deciding What ‘To Do’
I knew the first thing I have to do was come up with a system for managing what I had to do and stick to it. Luckily I’ve already been looking into this before I started the 100 days challenge, so it was just a case of revisiting it briefly.
If you’re anything like me you probably need a to-do list to remind you to do your to do list
As you can tell I’m a big fan of the iPhone and have tried pretty much every to-do app there is. A lot of people swear by Things which syncs with a paid for desktop app (mac only) or for a web app Remember The Milk is probably the leader in its field but you need to be a pro user to access the iPhone app.
For me Appigo’s To Do has the best features of any iPhone productivity app, however although it will sync with Toodledo’s web app or iCal, it would really need its own web-based app for it to cover all my needs.
If it’s simply reminders you’re after, a really good new service is Task.fm which sends you email reminders and is very easy to update.
Let’s face it thought, all that time I wasted trying out the various to do apps I could have been actually achieving something. Testing productivity tools can become a way of procrastinating in itself. Which is why I’ve now given up on technology-based productivity systems all together.
If you struggle to stick to a to-do list, I heartily recommend you check out the Todoodlist system (affiliate link). It will probably help you have some prior experience with mindmaps, but all in all it’s a very simple system and I’m using a separate page for work and home.
I admit I am still reliant on technology for reminders though – I add them to my iPhone’s native calendar app because it allows me to set two reminders for each event to ensure I can’t ignore or miss it.
Day 3 – Goal Setting
Fabian also mentioned I might want to try top productivity blogger Leo Babauta’s Zen To Done system (also an affiliate link), funnily enough as I had started re-reading his book The Power of Less that very day.
Both have a lot of great info but Zen to Done is perhaps an easier system to integrate as it’s pretty much laid out step by step. Leo’s key message is one of simplicity and focus – both things I am much in need of in my life which has become a mess of trying to do much at the same time.
Focusing on one key goal and ignoring all others until it’s achieved is probably my main challenge as I am usually all over the place.
The World’s Strongest Librarian probably put it best:
Whatever goals you have made, this one must come first: The goal is to keep the goal the goal.
Read that again: The goal is to keep the goal the goal.
An unnecessary translation: quit bouncing around. Pick a goal then measure all your actions against it. Does what I’m doing help me reach my goal? If not, eliminate it. Do not spend your time doing things that don’t get you closer to your goal. Avoid distractions at all costs.
So that’s what I decided to do. Now I just needed to know what my one key goal was.
Day 4 – Hmmmm
Day 4 I achieved very little except for getting massively drunk as I had my work’s Christmas lunch, which was an obscenely boozy affair, followed by the Found/Mersault/Panda Su gig. However one of my friends told me to stop being so hard on myself, I’m not going to berate myself too much.
Day 5 – Focus Pocus
I did some more work on my goals this day. I wrote down all the things I want to do, which included:
- Getting a new job and saving up money
- Improving this blog and increasing the number of subscribers
- Getting better at the guitar and playing live now and again (despite reading this reality check from Feeding the Black Dog earlier in the week: 5 Reasons You Probably Won’t Be a Rock Star)
- Starting to earn money from my writing
- Moving flat/getting married
- Running a 5k in January
And there are more but you can see that even this is a lot to try and do. I still couldn’t make myself choose one to focus my full attention on, so clearly it’s going to take longer than a day to sort my head out.
Day 6 – You’re reading it.
That’s today, right? Well, I’ve written this blog post. That is progress on goal number 2. I’ve also included two affiliate links for the first time (both are products I genuinely recommend). This might help me with goal no.4, and is at least a step in that direction and is helping me get over my mental blocks about earning money from my creativity. Either that or it might cause a massive backlash from my regular readers
And er, I’m off to write my journal for the last three days.. or I suppose in a way I have already done that right here.
Any tips on how to get my shit together? Are you taking part in the 100 Days project? Please let me know in the comments.
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