What are your best time management hacks or tools?

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Gergely Polonkai's photo

About 9 hours is enough for me. I spend the remaining 15 with my family and friends.

I personally use Emacs and Org-mode. With the right configuration Org can remind me of everything on time. I even sync my notes to my phone to use them with Orgzly, so i even get the notifications there. The key, however, is not the tool you use, but the time management method.

I have a lot of ToDo items. I mean, a lot. Most of them are articles to read, things to learn/try, and such. These are marked as “SOMEDAY”, so i know i haven’t devoured them yet, but i don’t get nagged about them. Whenever i have time, i pick one and put some time into it. If the topic is interesting, i add follow-up notes, sometimes even extra tasks to carry out.

The actual important stuff are marked as “TODO”. These are often (well, almost always) scheduled to the next 1-4 weeks. Every day i choose the 3 most important items then focus on the worst of them.

When i start working on something, i first mark it as “DOING”. I almost never have more than 4 of these, and this is super important. When i start the actual work i “clock in” on the task, and when i stop working on the task, i “clock out”. This way i have a good overview on what type of tasks take the most time. When i clock out, i also take a few words (sometimes even a few sentences) of notes so i know why i stopped working on it, and where i left off; this way i can easily pick up work next time.

I also have a bunch of tasks marked as “CANCELED”. These are considered done (as long as the notification system is concerned), but i revisit such tasks every 2-3 weeks. If something is deemed worthy to be revisited, i put it back to “SOMEDAY” or “TODO” status, otherwise i put in some closing notes and set them to “DONE”.

I also have a “BLOCKED” status, which i set for tasks which are, well… blocked. When a task gets to this status, i always add a note about what the task is waiting on, like “X company has the floor planks i need out of stock. Need to check with them in a week”. Blocked tasks are always scheduled, so i get a reminder when i need to do some extra checks or follow up tasks.

Org also has priority tags. I barely use them, but when i do, A and B always get priority over everything else, while C gets to the bottom of the list; in fact, priority C items often get cancelled.

And last, but not least, the key (for me) is that i have all my tasks in the same system, personal and work alike. This way i can easily transition between private and work tasks without changing tools. Obviously, we use a completely different task management system at work, so for work tasks i always have a link to the task management tool. On the other hand, my wife uses a paper calendar, so i also have to synchronise with her, too. In this, communication is key (both at work and at home).

That’s it. Just focus on as few tasks at a time as possible. Discipline Equals Freedom.

Bolaji Ayodeji's photo

Developer Relations @Hashnode

This is great, thank you for sharing your experience and method.