Keeping Things On Task

This evening, as I was getting ready to go to bed, an interesting item popped up in my Facebook feed. It was for David Seah’s US Compact Academic Calendar. This caught my attentions because I am about to start planning for my upcoming semester. As you may know I teach two classes at CCAC South Campus, and the Fall Semester will soon be upon us, and I will be updating my course outlines and assignments soon. But that isn’t the reason I am writing this post.

I have recently begun using some of David Seah’s productivity tools. This tools have really helped me keep things together. Here is my issue, I have ADHD, and I take medication for it. But if I don’t have something physical in front of me, it gets easy to forget what I need to do. I started a few months ago with David’s Task Project Tracker. This handy-dandy little worksheet allows me to document all of my major tasks (and even sub tasks) for a project and fill in the dots as you work towards completion. As I have been asked to track my hours for a few projects, I started coupling this with his Task Order Up slips. These slips have you write a deliverable or major task on the top and give you a place to list all of the sub tasks or steps and lets you log your total time for the slip and your time for each individual item. You can add project codes and mark if the items is overhead or billable. I use these slips for my day-to-day task management and reminders (and of course billing and time tracking), then I use the Task Project Tracker when I go to meetings to report on progress. These two items have really helped me keep my eye on what needs done.

Finally, at work, we are using a system to help document our time working creating new stuff (for research and development tax credits) vs. support and bug fixes. So while the task order up slips help me keep track of my coding time. I also do support and help customers with technical implementations (I help the customers IT staff install and configure some of our software), which means I don’t get set my schedule. I can’t count on having a block of time to do my work uninterrupted. That is where the Emergent Task Planner comes in. It allows me to list my goals for the day. Gives me a break down of the day’s schedule and helps me of how I spent my time during the day. This is really important when I am constantly being interrupted by computer problems, server problems, customers in need of assistance, and of course pre-scheduled meetings. So I list three or four things I have to accomplish in the day, then I start. I keep track of time spend on email, support, customer calls, and tasks. I loved this thing so much I order two tablets from Amazon.

Look, for all of my love of technology, electronic task management solutions just don’t work for me. I have to see it and touch it and have it in my face all the time so I don’t forget it. These are probably the best paper solutions I have come a crossed in my 10 years of working in software development. They may not be for everybody. But, they work for me. Check them out, they may work for you.

Note: I wasn’t paid to write this. I just love these tools. And I like to share what I love, in the hopes that it may help someone else.