My productivity journey

I started blogging again a couple months ago with the best of intentions. I committed to one long-form blog post, and one weekly status update. The last couple of weeks I have failed to do either. So, back at it today with how I became more productive.

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on

As with lots of people, I have been trying to figure out how to be more productive. I looked at several (7 Habits, Getting Things Done (see addendum about this) productivity systems over the years. I even tried them, but I decided on three things I needed.

  1. Quick to do. I’m not going to spend an hour. It should be doable in 10 minutes.
  2. Paper-based. I prefer writing on paper.
  3. Easy to explain. I should be able to explain it in one or two sentences.

Eventually, I found Personal Kanban. We were doing SCRUM at work, using Post-it Notes on the walls to build out kanban boards. Why not use it for our own personal stuff?

And then I found Trello. It’s a personal kanban board online. Gah. I can’t do it online. I seriously tried it for awhile, and it’s good. I like it, but it breaks my rule #2.

Finally, I came across Getting Results the Agile Way by J.D. Meier. It was simple to explain, simple to use, and I could do it using any system, paper or online. Based on the rule of three, I loved it. Now, how to manage it in my life. I started with OneNote, but blech.

I love Kickstarter. Wayyyy too much probably, and so I routinely look through its offerings. Wait, what is this? It’s something called a Self Journal by Best Self Co. and it’s based on the rule of threes. BestSelf Co was founded by Cathryn Lavery and Allen Brouwer, and I immediately clicked with their mission.

Oh I had to have it. So I ordered it. And then I got it in the mail. And then I let it sit….for um, at least 2 years. In my defense, I was an idiot.

When I finally cracked open that box, it was like I found a supercharger for my day. It’s simple to explain (every day do 3 things), quick to do (takes about 10-15 minutes in the morning), and it’s paper-based. I combine that with a little Pomodoro thrown in. I block out 25 minute work blocks throughout the day, and blam, I’m more productive than I’ve ever been.

I focus on less every day, and it’s flexible if things go sideways. As a service engineer, fires will break out. I need to make sure I can ditch whatever I’m doing, and then get back to it easily. I keep the journal open on my desk, and it’s a good reminder of what I need to do. Any notes I need to take I can do right there.

I’ve tried many productivity systems, and found the one that works for me. Try them all, and make your own determination.

Addendum: I found this really great article about GTD and 43 Folders. One of the things they talk about using is a kanban board for everything knowledge-worker based. I actually approve of that.

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