Time Management through Self Motivation
When you’re in a constant rush to ship, sometimes you can lose sight on the future and the high-level goals. Fortunately, I’ve found one way that works for me to keep granular and high level on a daily basis.
For awhile there — back in 2016, the ancient days — I was searching for a way to stay organized, focus on my daily priorities and still keep my eyes on the long term prize through experimentation. I tried a digital todo app—Todoist, One Big Thing, Wunderlist, and even Apples Notes with a checklist, just to name a few. I also read countless books and blog posts to figure out the best way to stay organized. I eventually opted for the Bullet Journal system as a way to document everything I’m working on.
Even after starting a bullet journal, I still felt a little scatterbrained in my approach. So I took it one step further, with a daily schedule. First thing I do in the morning is grab a cup of coffee and check email and Github notifications. I respond where needed or give updates based on my schedule for the day. During this time, I figure out my schedule for the day in my bullet journal. In the journal, I list out my 3 largest priorities—the last one is usually a time sensitive thing like a bug fix—in order of importance and one experiment/design I’d like to pursue as an improvement to our products. Sometimes, this last part I use as empathy time and just take stock of where our apps become sticky or hard to use. Usually following that are my daily stand-ups and meetings, so I schedule time for a coffee refill if needed and water cooler chat.
Now that I have a plan, I work on that #1 priority until lunch. After lunch, I check email and Github again to make sure I’m not missing anything where our team needs my attention. Once caught up, I work through half of my afternoon on the #2 priority. Around 3:30pm, I take a break and start work on whatever time sensitive priority I have. This priority can change at any time throughout the day. The reason I schedule this particular item at this time of day is due to a lag in my creativity during the late afternoons. It provides a nice distraction in the form of “mindless” work like bug fixes.
These 3 priorities are things that I need to get done any given day—some of them may not be things that I particularly enjoy nor seem very challenging. That’s why the last hour of my day is set aside for those experiments or things I find exciting. It provides me some time to play with ideas and improve on our product. By setting aside this time, I protect my iteration cycles and make it a daily habit. My creative juices usually kick back in around 5pm, making it easy for me to pump out design work without spending too much time on it. You can think of it as the carrot leading this horse to success.
I hope this formula can be of help you in some form. Take it, remix it, and go be motivated and productive. And most importantly, keep making.
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