This weekend I had a lot of things to accomplish. My task list this morning was packed full of high priority items. I employ a couple of tools that help me to manage my time effectively so that I can both complete my tasks and set aside time to relax and play.
I’ve tried out several combinations of tools looking for the right pairing and last week I think I discovered it. Eternity Time Log and ToodleDo complement each other in just the right ways to allow you to prioritize tasks and then track the time spent on them.
Eternity Time Log (link)
Eternity is a fantastic time tracking tool. When starting an activity or task you simply select it and click a start button. When the task is complete you click the stop button. You can include a note to provide context as well as a list of tags. The log of activities for a day can be edited at will to correct errors in start and stop times, or to add missing entries at a later date. The list of activities is fully customizable as a nested hierarchy. This allows for tracking to be as fine or coarse grain as appropriate. The logs for a day are arranged chronologically and the data can additionally be viewed as a pie-chart that shows both the hours spent on each activity as well as the percentage the segment represents. Furthermore, the logs can be exported in a comma-separated value file that could be imported into Excel or other data processor for deeper analysis and reporting. One of the most useful features within Eternity is the ability to set an alarm when starting a task. This lends itself very well to application of the Pomodoro technique as starting a task can be accompanied with a 25 minute alarm. Breaks can then be logged in between the work activities to complete the cycle.
A popular online task management tool, ToodleDo is an excellent place to jot down tasks as soon as they are imagined. This gets them off your brain and into a prioritized backlog of work items. Pairing this with Eternity gives a very powerful mechanism for prioritizing and then tracking against a personal task backlog. The available reports are rich enough to allow for adjustment of expectations in future task planning without introducing an unreasonable amount of overhead.
So…what did I get done?
As I type it out it feels like it should be more. Yet I did manage to accomplish everything on the list. More to the point, I’ve been able to hit my goals at work every day I’ve used these apps. I’ve also learned an incredible amount about my work break habits by reviewing the data captured in Eternity. For example, I learned that I take proper GTD breaks (5 minutes every 25 minutes, 15 minutes every 2 hours) regularly at the start of the week whereas towards the end of the week I end up working straight through. I’ve also learned that the number of ad-hoc meetings that happen by people sending me an IM or stopping by my cube rise sharply towards the end of the week. It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that productivity went down on those days as a result. Good data to have and something to learn from.
Washed and Detailed my Truck
I keep my truck pretty clean most of the time. However, in honor of it reaching 5,000 miles it was time for a detailing. So after a run through the car wash and a quick once over with the vacuums I busted out the ArmorAll wipes and went to town.
Shaved my Head
It was time. The dome was starting to look fuzzy again. I had to bring the sexy back.
Scanned and Filed Old Family Photographs
We have several packs of family photographs that I would like to share online. I’ve now finished scanning, processing, and filing the first batch of these photographs. They are now ready to be filed away in a labeled, acid-free cardboard box for long-term storage. After scanning the photographs I took the opportunity to tag the photos with the code written on the front of the storage box in which the original photograph will be stored.
Cleaned up Metadata in iTunes
We have songs that were imported incorrectly and have bad metadata as a result. I am progressively cleaning up all of the songs in our collection. Today’s task covered albums beginning with the letters D, E, F. This isn’t the first pass through the library and it’s unlikely to be the last. Nevertheless, D-F now have correct artist, album, cover art, genre, and song names; the majority of the problems being incorrectly spelled names or incorrect or missing album art.