I’ve recently been asked to write a brief article for my colleagues at Predica, to talk about the tools I use in my daily work, and why I chose them.
Many of them found it quite useful, so I thought I’d share it with you too – maybe you’ll find your new favorite here?
When I first thought about this round-up, the initial thing that came into my mind was – ok, I will write about my key daily tools:
Check out the screenshot below. It shows 3 browser windows. I am signed in on each of them with a different account. Based on the different themes, I can easily tell you that:
If you haven’t used it, give it a try!
Oh, and I use the built-in Windows Snipping Tool 😉
After listing the above tools, I thought, nope… I work with great specialists, and if you’re reading this, I’m sure you are one too – so you already know how to use them! So, I went in another direction.
I will share the tools I use to organize my day-to-day responsibilities, track small tasks and bigger projects. I’ll also share how they help me with the preparation of monthly or quarterly evaluations.
Let’s dive in!
A day in the life
To give you some context, I work in our Managed Services department for one of our larger clients.
Typically, during the course of the day, I will do the following:
Everything I know is either documented or shared with someone else. When a new opportunity is on the radar, I don’t need to transfer the knowledge to another person, as there is already someone who can handle this – it’s a win-win situation.
Now you know what I do on a daily basis, you need to know another thing: my memory is so bad that I have to write everything down.
I bet it’s because I never had any walnuts growing up! (If you didn’t know, walnuts are great for memory and brain health.)
Jokes aside, the truth is that I am, and always have been, a list-maker. I like to have everything written down. I want the list to tell me what I need to do – nothing more, nothing less. When at the end of the day everything is done, I am happy, and I sleep much better!
I use several tools to manage my work and personal life – perhaps you’ll find them useful too.
This is what I thought my old-school notebook would look like:
…but in reality, it is much simpler and looks like this:
My paper notebook
My paper (or “analog” ?) notebook is the first place for every incoming task. It also serves as a tool to quickly jot something down to remember it, while I’m focused on something else.
Its structure is simple, divided into 3 parts:
The Routine section includes tasks that repeat every day. As for Priv and Job, both of them are structured in the same way. Each task can be split into subtasks, and all tasks can be prioritized as follows:
Yep, no rocket science here. It looks simple – and it is!
Click the image to see it in full size.
In addition to my notebook, I also use some apps – so let’s go over what they are.
Habits app (Routine)
It contains the tasks that I repeat every day, multiple times, that are related to my health.
There are just 4 categories there: strengthening and breathing exercises, pull-up bar, water, supplements.
When at the end of the day, I have done a task a desired amount of times, I mark it as success in the app.
Why do I use this system?
Because in the past I thought that if I was doing something healthy enough times, I should see the results. But once I started to actually track it on paper, I noticed I would only do 30-40% of what I had planned.
Also, at first, the target frequency wasn’t as high as I wanted it to be. You know how it is when you’re starting out – you want to get going, but not do so much that you give up after the second day.
This is the view of the app:
Google tasks (Priv)
This one does not need an explanation. Here is where I add tasks with a specific deadline. This way, I can access them from anywhere – I don’t always have my paper notebook with me – and I can set reminders.
I use it for everything related to my work: projects, tasks, resolved requests/incidents, knowledge, service improvements, OKRs, etc. – everything that in the future can help me work faster.
As per the below screenshot, it is divided into 3 main sections:
You might want something simpler or more complex – this is just the structure that works for me. Click the image to see it in more detail.
This section contains everything related to OKRs and my progress at work. Each year and quarter have their own section. They sum up everything I’ve done in every 3-month period, as well as plans for the next one (after my 1-on-1 with the Team Lead).
Having this section makes it much easier for me to prepare for my quarterly evaluations. I like to be well prepared for this meeting and this way, I have everything written down.
Plus, because I have everything in one place, it saves me going through my mailboxes, projects/repos, ITSM system and notes to find the things I need to include in my review.
With OneNote, I can just link to each item, write a short description, highlight the effort, organize it, and add the information to 7Geese which we use for OKR management – and that’s it! All done in 10 minutes, instead of hours.
I also have another section to help, which is:
Diary for TGO (purple)
Named this way after the one and only Tomasz Gościmiński! He was the first person to recommend to me a great course on productivity and show me how to effectively organize my tasks and responsibilities. It made sense to honor him in this way! 🙂
In this section, I track everything that I do each month. The structure is always the same (highlighted in purple on the right of the image above):
Other sections include:
Dairy for TGO lifecycle
The section is divided by month. At the beginning of each new month, I move the completed tasks to the “Done” section. Whatever is left in “Not started/In progress” stays in place. This way, I can keep my list tidy.
To clear the whole item (with subsections) you can just click on the arrow (highlighted), minimize item, and then move it:
In the past, this section used to be really detailed also divided into days. I gave up this idea as it was too complex just for tracking tasks. Now I can say: the simpler the structure, the easier it is to use – and the less effort staying organized takes, the easier it is to achieve!
Keep in mind that all of the above works for me, but you might find other tools that work better.
Which tools do you use?
So, what do you think? Do you use any of these tools and have any tips? Or maybe you’d like to recommend something else? Share it in the comments or let me know!
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