This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)
Status Quo Covid 19 – Or the new standard
With the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020, our live as we have known it until now has changed drastically. Now, we work remotely, have to manage ourselves in order to keep track of the many tasks, emails and appointments, and additionally develop new strategies that positively support our health aspects in life.
The balance between work and career is becoming increasingly blurred and if we don’t learn to draw clear boundaries, then too much emphasis in the wrong direction can be the best way to burn-out.
A productivity system helps you organise the overwhelming amount of daily email, never-ending tasks in projects and filing notes, ideas and documents in the right place.
Let’s face it – we won’t manage to reduce our to-do list to zero, nor will we manage to mute the email programme.
Authors Jake Knapp and John Zeratzky aptly described this in their best-selling book “Make Time”, and for me, my personal productivity recommendation: Infinity Pools.
What exactly are infinity pools?
- They are constantly available, practically infinite sources of information and entertainment
- Pull-to-refresh-Apps (Facebook, E-Mail, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
- Video streaming services (YouTube, Netflix etc.)
- Even web browsers that provide on-demand access to pretty much any information in the world
The majority of infinity’s pools are dominated by social media and networks. But emails, and ultimately the never-ending tasks of your To-Do List Manager are also part of it.
You can read my personal highlights and best tips from “Make Time” in an earlier post:
To get a grip on the constant disruptions in our daily hectic working world, you need three countermeasures:
- A simple and flexible, yet sustainable system that allows you to quickly collect, distil and store the vast amount of information in a trusted place for later processing.
- The right apps and programmes (which you probably already have).
- Habits (we will look at these in more detail in later articles).
For now, let’s turn our attention to the system itself, which consists of three basic mechanisms:
Collecting your daily information, tasks and appointments should be as quick and efficient as possible. This is not yet about the implementation itself.
Collecting is primarily about, “How do I store the many different types of information in the right place as quickly as possible?”
With the completion of Step 1, collecting, all the information, ideas and files are in central places (the fewer the better) from which you now assess and process them.
This is best illustrated with a few vivid examples:
- During the day, an idea for one of your projects has come to your mind. You quickly stored the idea in your note-taking app in the central input. Perhaps others have come up during the day. Is this information or idea really still relevant and worth elaborating on in more detail when you think about it in a quiet minute? If yes – move it to the appropriate project. If not – delete it.
- During a phone call, your wife casually told you that you would like to book a table at your favourite restaurant for the next wedding day. The task can be quickly stored in the To-Do List Manager. At the end of the day, you organise this task and assign a due date by which the task must be completed. Maybe your wedding day is only two months away and there is currently no action. But the important thing is that the task appears at the right time and you can take action.
- Your email inbox has filled up during the day and you need to decide which emails are important or what next actions might result from emails.
- A mail in which you are only CC – delete it.
- An appointment invitation – check calendar and confirm/reject appointment
- A problem in the project – enter it as a task in your ToDo List Manager, schedule it and then reschedule the email.
Organising means deciding what is important or urgent. But also what is unimportant. It means deciding which of your tools is suitable to manage the information.
Above all, it means being in control of when and for what you want to allocate your time.
Organising your core tasks (that is, all the tasks your company has hired you to do) helps you keep track of your goals and milestones (high priority) and better channel the many other side activities (low priority).
This is about actually working on the task, the part that will make you productive. The first two items (gathering and organising) should not require more than 10-15% of your resources. This leaves you with 85-90% that you can use for “doing”.
The right programmes
We live in a digital world and besides all imaginable forms of productivity methods, this would also be my advice to you. Especially the many emails can be better collected and processed with the appropriate programmes and apps.
But always remember:
“Only a system that works with paper and pen will work in the digital world.”
Please only use the tools you identify with and enjoy. Start with the tools that come pre-installed with your operating system: Microsoft Calendar, Email or One Note, as well as Apple’s Reminders or Notes. These are great for implementing a sustainable productivity system without putting too much strain on your budget.
You will need the following programmes:
- Calendar (to collect your appointments)
- To-Do-List Manager (to collect your tasks)
- Note-taking App (or a physical notebook) (to collect your notes and ideas)
- Cloud-Storage (to collect your files and documents)
- Mail Programme (to collect your emails)
In the next few posts, we will look at each tool in detail and how you can use the appropriate method to quickly and easily file and organise information and gain more time for action.
To give you a better overview of which topics should be filed where, you can download the “Organisation Guide” (in PDF format) free of charge.