So yesterday, halfway though the day, I was having trouble getting myself motivated to do ANYTHING at work. I work as a web application developer (full time and freelance) and I am constantly in the middle of a bunch of projects. Lately, I’ve been struggling to keep on track or work on what (I think) is the most important project for me to complete. So I tried a new idea that might work for those of us with a bunch of simultaneous projects.
First, I went through and wrote down all of the projects that I have at work. This included the ones that were to be done “sometime”. I figured then I could see the big picture of what I’m looking at. Next, I went through and prioritized each item on the list so that I could get a feel for what was my most important project. Then, I made a third column on the side for tasks that were the most important thing to get done that day. Yesterday, knowing I only had a few hours, I just put one task each for 3 of the items. (These may be something as simple as attend the meeting that you have for that project.) This way, if you get through every thing on your list (starting with the highest priority project) you have been able to move forward on every project that you are working on. This may not be ideal if you have a deadline approaching for any of the projects, but in that case you may just use a regular todo list for that single project. The important thing here is that since you are making progress each day on the project, you don’t loose momentum and have to take time getting back into it. The projects are all fresh in your mind because you have been working on them each day!
The other thing I may do is sometimes I may put an upper level task on the list – something like make this part of the site do that – which may mean a whole bunch of little tasks. While other days I may just put the specific small task of change this page to say that. These items are based on the priority of the project, but this way you can get the most important things taken care of first! This new todo list idea was inspired by an old post on Zen Habits which I recently read. I’ve heard the basic idea of the post before, but this time it took me in a new direction.
Here is the steps again to using this list:
- List out all projects you are currently working on.
- Prioritize these projects (taking into consideration due dates and your bosses thoughts)
- Add an item to each project until you feel your day will be full (don’t make these too hard as you need to shoot to accomplish them all in one day.)
- Start working on the highest priority task.
There you go! A project based daily todo list! As a bonus, if during the day you just need to cross something off the list, you have a group of small tasks that you should be able to jump into and cross off so you can feel productive.