Setting realistic goals

There’s usually too much work to be done in my line of work. Over the course of two decades my todo lists have never been empty. If there’s no ongoing client related tasks there’s always something pending on the development list. On top of that there’s tasks you need to do to get better in your work. That can be tough sometimes. Like many developers I myself have had difficulties organizing my days in the past. When you own your company it’s both liberating and a challenge to be able to manage your time freely. Especially during COVID-19 lockdowns it sometimes causes this side effect of me coding all day all night.

Being disorganized leads to procrastination and madness in general. You jump from task to task like rabbit after a carrot. It’s easy to start doing “this small thing” on your own site for example and realize “self-development” minutes have suddenly changed into hours. It’s so easy to lose control and start browsing YouTube in the middle of everything. I mean the breaks are more than okay but not if the whole day is one big break.

During last two years I have found out the best way to manage this. My solution is best from both worlds. It’s still okay to have too many tasks when you just know which tasks to do today.

Set up your weekly goals

On Monday morning decide what are you going to work on this week. Make the list vague on purpose. My lists are usually like this:

  1. Attempt to style more blocks on Project X
  2. Deal with all support tickets
  3. Workshop for customer X
  4. All the random stuff that have a set up deadline for this week

I always set up deadlines for week numbers, not days. Things are not achieved in days anyway, they take time. It’s easier also for customer to except things to happen “on this week”. If it’s ready on Monday, they are pleasantly surprised. If it’s ready on Friday, it’s not bad either since it arrived on perfectly on schedule. This gives you more flexibility and is way less stressful.

Set up your daily goals

Set up realistic goals. Ask from yourself:

  1. What I am going to do today?
  2. Which tasks are most probably get done today?

If there’s too much tasks, sort them by priority. Usually after lunch I just postpone those lowest-priority tasks to the next day and it’s all fine because they were not the ones to do immediately anyway. They are the small tasks you feel good doing if it saves you the trouble from the next day. This is kinda opposite of procrastinating. It’s making your days easier. If you don’t have energy for those not-necessary tasks, it’s perfectly okay to postpone them to the next day.

Start from the smallest tasks

The “low hanging fruit” tasks are easier to start with. Once you get your flow going there’s no stopping ya. That’s why easy start is very important. Do those oneliners first.

Eliminate procrastinating with proper tools

I have always used Todoist for my tasks but lately I have moved on to the open source todo list super-productivity. This is a tool that prevents you from procrastinating and unproductive multitasking. It forces you to clock everything. I know, it can be tedious or cause anxiety at first but it’s brilliant actually. Your time is controlled when you track it. In fact, I’m tracking even writing this. If I forget to track something, I see immediately “You have not been tracking time for 19m” and I can allocate that time for a task. This too is something I have contributed to in form of themes powered by CSS. Try it!

That’s all folks

I hope these tips are helpful to you. It’s important to be honest with yourself. Happy working!

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