My Productivity System is Changing Fast
A snapshot of my toolkit as it enters the next chapter of life
In the last few weeks, life changed for me – and it hasn’t been as much to do with the COVID-19 pandemic, surprisingly.
From a coffee shop addicted solo creator to a now stay-at-home new dad – the joys of 3 am feeds and full diapers have become an everyday reality – and with all processes, the way we manage, think, and get things done have to change.
Many of the readers here may already be dads, so I’d love to hear any comments and thoughts you have about how your system changed in the comments here in Medium.
In these first 3 weeks, a few things I’ve noticed have changed:
- 🎯 Priority – How much time you have in your day doesn’t change when you’re a new dad, you still have the same 24hrs, but priorities do adapt. Key tasks are much more clear and the less meaningful tasks disappear, becoming irrelevant.
- 👨🏻💻 Attention – Delivery, and focus, despite the lack of sleep, has become much more refined. You notice you procrastinate less, the task at hand becomes more pressing and you drill down on what matters. Probably because you know you’re minutes away from the little one rising.
As mentioned, my toolkit has adapted.
Whilst the tools I use has remained the same, the core ingredients and foundations are being shaken up to fit around the growing personal aspects of my new lifestyle.
This is a snapshot into how the basic tools I use are changing, from a to-do list to information management
Refined personal task manager
This task management application has been my go-to tool for 8 years and whilst on this paternity leave, it’s adapted a lot – although still currently progress is being made.
- 🔭 Personal Use – I’ve noticed the biggest change is I’m using Todoist for solely personal use, whereas before it was for both. This could be due to paternity leave, but see this as a long-term pivot.
- 👣 Sub-tasks – The use of sub-tasks is in use more than ever, each main task is broken down to eliminate any confusion.
- 👨🏻💼 Scheduled – The planning view now helps me to see in the next week, and I’ve reverted back to scheduling tasks per hour. Although the day won’t go to plan, I like the linear line-up of what’s up next.
- 🧰 More Projects – As you can see “Personal” has expanded. It now includes 4 additional projects, from Recs to Reads, this includes some important folders I’m clipping into – I never used to use this many sub-projects, as I believed in solely 2 projects (work, personal).
- 📱 iPad Pro use – As you can see, this is an iPad screen grab. I’ve been using it as my to-do list hub, now that I picked up an iPad to review applications, I can now use it as my morning management.
A little expanded exert for those curious what the project folders are for and how they work.
- 👶🏻 Otto – is anything for the little one, an ongoing checklist of “to buys”, “to do” – any useful reminders about booking appointments – all organized using sections.
- 📚 Recs – is saving anything that the community recommends to me for a review or even for checking out for my own productivity workflow.
- 📔 Reads – now the reading station in the mornings, I go here and clear at least 2–3 articles – allowing me to clip faster on the go.
- 📦 Errands – these are all house, finance or chore orientated and helps me peek into what needs to get done – from house documents to clear to planning finances for the upcoming month.
So as you can see an extended use for personal management, and it seems I’m using Todoist less for my own work tasks and more for management of what’s on my own personal plate.
I think is a natural transitional and won’t be for definite that I’ll drop it for project management, but for now, I’ve experimenting with Notion for my work tasks and errands and linking them to my Goals. Let’s see.
Newly refined project management
Notion use has adapted a fair bit, with a working process. With this big life change, I’m using Notion for specific things now and extracting the key pages into the left-hand navigation.
- 📋 Notes – Taking notes and documenting lessons is something I’m starting to do more of in the last few weeks, so I’ve started a new Gallery view note-taking database.
- 🔫 Projects & TASks– As mentioned, Todoist has been my base for task management for many years, where I’m not replacing Todoist with Notion – I’m moving my work based goals and projects fully into Notion.
- 🧰 Learning – I saw this recently in a Marie Poulin feature about how she’s highlighting her “active courses” – so she knows what she’s learning. You can get carried away with the audiobooks, books, courses you’re taking – and this will be my workaround.
I’m not actively looking to replace Todoist. I originally moved from Trello to Notion (in 2017) – for my project management but I never actually created a proper system for goal and project management, so this is one of my key focuses.
The document filing cabinet
Evernote has always been a constant for me. As you can see I’m still using the PARA method developed by Tiago Forte.
- 🔦 Folders – As you can see I’m now adding a few emojis to the beginning of projects, just to spice things up in my Evernote notebooks. This will aim to be fully updated with all notebooks.
- 🛋 Capture – I’m now capturing on the iPad edition of the Evernote application – this is only a minor tweak, but my two devices are iPad and iPhone for Evernote now – for their 2 device limit.
These aren’t major changes in my workflow. I’m still using my core applications, they are the following:
- Todoist – for task management
- Notion – for project management
- Evernote – for document management
The other tools I use include:
- Missive — for email
- Woven — for calendar viewing
I think you know when you have the task management tool at hand when you find that, even during a huge life change, it stays with you — and you made an effective long-term decision. This is the real test for your tool.