Motivation To Get Organized and Get Down To Business
This article was first published in The Human and The Machine.
How I Increase My Productivity Through Obsessive List Making and Finding Fulfillment Through Side Projects and Community Involvement.
Every weekday morning before I begin my caffeine intake, I make a list of the tasks I want to accomplish that day. My little post-it note lists are a way to help me maintain focus and define clear priorities. With every strike through I feel a sense of accomplishment that keeps me moving forward, and gives me confidence that my team and I will complete the big-picture project on time.
Writing a to-do list forces me to filter out the known information I have about a task, summarize it, prioritize it, and record it. Despite being written on brightly colored squares, my list creation is similar to notetaking. When we write things down our brains have an easier time remembering them, making it easier to recall the items on your list even when you are not looking at it. This is especially beneficial during a busy workday with dozens of distractions that could hinder your progress and workflow.
These lists are the backbone of my productivity, and this habit carries over to my side projects and even my daily life.
Perhaps my list-making habit stems from a personality quirk. I like having a solid plan and a structured calendar. A borderline “control-freak” with a passion for code, design, and user experience, I’m still prone to getting discouraged by the daily grind. While creating lists is a reliable method to keeping me organized and on track, they cannot help me if I begin to feel overwhelmed.
Burnout is a common fear in the tech industry. There are countless blog posts providing suggestions on how to avoid it. If you work hard and love what you do, but become weighed down with constant stress, you’ll put out low quality work.
To help keep my sanity intact and avoid the burnout phenomenon, I dedicate time for myself to pursue side projects and engage with the local tech community. Hack-a-thons, volunteering with tech centered non-profits, attending meetups, and contributing to open source projects are all ways I stay engaged and find fulfillment outside of my normal workday.
Understandably, it’s also good to spend time on side projects that are not tech related, especially if coding during the work day and then engaging in code related activities in the evenings wear you down. It’s relaxing to have your brain switch gears. As humans we are multifaceted, and need the chance to step away from our work to maintain a healthy mind. Sometimes giving our brains a recess from work can even help us develop some spectacular new ideas!
Painting, building furniture, and creating mosaic art are all activities I engage in when I find myself needing a break.
No matter what side projects, activities, or community you get involved with, it’s essential to find something that makes you feel fulfilled outside of your workday. That way when you walk through the office door on Monday morning, you feel motivated to get organized and get down to business.