Yes I know what you mean. I always categorize those experiments as Side Projects not Productivity to make it clear in my time tracking that this is not actually making me more productive (yet)
It’s funny, because all the most useful nuggets for me came from a deceptively simple practice: choosing my tasks for the day and only working from that list (I hit cmd-t in Things and they appear in Today section). I notice that every single day I use different criteria for what to do:
- Things to do before lunch because afternoon is off
- Start with easy things to give me momentum for those unclear things
- Start With hardest things because I’ve been putting them off for a few days
- Aggregate all bullshit tasks so at least I can dispatch them all at once
We all have these decision procedures, usually implicit, and I can’t see any way of automating their selection a priori. This is related to how I can’t automate the process of tagging an evernote with meanings.
So if you can’t automate task selection, the only solution is to make it easier to do on the fly, which is where GTD is so helpful. Doing capture, next action decision, outcome focusing, weekly reviews is ALL designed IMO to help u choose the days tasks with minimal friction.
This seems to fly in the face of agile productivity in a rapidly changing environment. Why plan the day when no plan survives? But the point is not to stick to it religiously, it’s to have a substrate which the feedback you receive can be imprinted onto. For ex, I complete 8 tasks per day on avg going back 3 years. I would never believe it’s so few if I didn’t see those 2 yellow remaining tasks at the end of each day. So I have a rule I can’t pick more than 10, which is REALLY hard when you’re feeling optimistic in the morning. If I complete 10, I knew it was a stretch goal and then I get to play guilt-free.