I spend a lot of time trying to be productive, part one

I spend a lot of time trying to be more productive in my work. I get my shit done, but it’s important to put stress and focus on the *right things*. It takes some thought to figure out the right things to work on, and sometimes I blow a ton of time figuring that out – so I needed a good solution to help me with that.

The amount of articles and opinions on how to optimize your productivity is absurd; it really comes down to what works best for you. I’ve found a system that seems to work for me.

1. I heavily rely on OSX ecosystem (eg. Reminders via Siri, the whole clean Yosemite look, etc.). Most non-Apple apps force other UI conventions on you that may or may not complement OSX/iOS nicely.

2. Evernote is great for self-project managing when there’s a lot of notes to be kept in the background. I use its “reminders” feature as a running list of active projects I have going on – it’s redundant and useless for true reminders. (The individual tasks of those projects, however, usually end up as a messy checklist in the Evernote note or in my reminders somewhere else – annoying.)

3. Collaborative projects are managed in Trello – no exceptions at this point. It’s become my favorite, simplest way of manage everything from technical projects, album releases, to this blog.

4. I like the ability to share lists (say, with Alicia or my parents) – which virtually every task management app offers. Wunderlist prides itself on this, but realistically I’m not finding myself collaborating with a ton of people on lists. I find Trello much stronger for true collaboration, but weak on task list management. The stock Apple Reminders gets the job done for, say, sharing a grocery list.

5. I don’t like having to manage multiple apps/platforms for essentially the same thing. In other words, the less apps I need to pay attention to, the better.

So, I discovered GoodTask. It essentially layers over Apple’s Reminders and gives me the features and flexibility that Apple didn’t build themselves. It can either fully replace Reminders, or act as a more elaborate version of Reminders for involved project management, depending on your need. There’s a few minor quirks (including some rare crashing), and it’s not free ($20 for desktop, $5 for iOS) – but no monthly subscription and no juggling multiple platforms. This seems to have made my setup work:

  • All reminders, project-related tasks and lists are in GoodTask (via Reminders)
  • All new tasks are stored in an Inbox list, and then delegated to Home, Work, Creative or Reminders (for things I really don’t care about until I’m reminded)
  • Tasks related to collaborative work (ie. things that colleagues need to know about) stay in Trello. All tasks that are personal to me stay in GoodTask/Reminders. For instance, if I have to wireframe something that needs peer or client review, that stays in the UX Trello board for that client, with me as the assignee and a published due date.
  • I may create a separate reminder in GoodTask so I remember to start work the week prior, but that’s personal to me.
  • Special lists for certain things I put together on a constant basis (ie. Groceries)
  • Every big project, app or client gets a smart hashtag in GoodTask, which corresponds to a catch-all project note in Evernote
  • All !!!-level tasks in GoodTask show up in an “important” smart list

This seems to be working well for me – that is, until a new app comes out that I feel compelled to try.