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Creating A Framework For Productivity

Creating A Framework For Productivity

    Something that has sped the development of awesome web and desktop applications over the past 10+ years is the idea of a technology or set of technologies coming together in harmony in what is known as a framework. There are many popular technical programming frameworks out there today like .NET for Windows, Ruby on Rails, or Zend for PHP. These frameworks help the programmer development applications rapidly and in much less time than it took before the frameworks were available.

    What these types of frameworks do is keep programmers productive by allowing them to concentrate on building their application rather than getting mundane and trivial things to work like database access, control usage, and even deployment in the environment the application will be used in. Without getting too-too technical, it’s pretty easy to see why frameworks are needed and appreciated by developers:

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    1. They keep mundane things out of the way.
    2. The give the programmer awesome tools to work with to get more work done.
    3. This allows the programmer to concentrate on creating her app rather than what language or technology she is using.

    Creating a framework for your life

    That being said, why don’t we take a lesson from software development and engineering and apply it directly to our productivity practice? The idea of Getting Things Done is to keep track of the more mundane and next action type of stuff to clear our heads so we can concentrate on creating rather than just checking off a list of unimportant or habitual things that need done.

    Developing a framework for your productivity can be just as liberating for us as a programming framework for coders. But what should this framework entail?

    The mundane and everyday

    One of the best tutorial ebooks I have read in the past year was Using OmniFocus by Kourosh Dini. This book should be bundled with the task management system OmniFocus because of its in depth setup of the system as well as some awesome insights about personal productivity.

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    Dini details how to setup some “Routine Maintenance” folders and projects that contain all of the routine stuff you have to keep track of. This forms the basis of the system and allows you to free yourself from simple things and look towards more creative actions and processes. He also discusses creating templates of repeated projects so you don’t have to weigh yourself down in the future with “boilerplate” types of processing.

    But what’s this mean if you aren’t an OmniFocus geek like myself? Well, you need some lists or reminders around that keep the mundane and everyday things off of your mind. Whether it be a morning, noon, and night checklist of things that need done, weekly reminders, monthly and otherwise; all you need is to set something up to remind you and help you from thinking that you are forgetting something.

    Before I was on the OmniFocus wagon I would have a repeating event on my calendar right before I left for work that had a simple checklist of things that needed done before I left the house. Things like, remember all needed school books, review your errand list for things that you need to take with you, remember your work ID, wallet, chargers and phone, etc. This simple, stupid list helped me keep the whole “I know I’m forgetting something” feeling away. This allowed me to concentrate on other bigger things that needed done in the day. It also allowed me to have my cup of coffee in peace and to actually relax before I entered my work day.

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    Taking care of the simple and mundane stuff everyday is a key part of creating your productivity framework. Without it, you will always have that sinking feeling that something is “falling through the cracks”.

    Creative tasks and doings

    Something else that I have found to be of utmost importance is to create repeating tasks for the creative parts of my life. These are things that I need to do everyday to keep my creative energy flowing and to allow myself to do something other than think about “real work”.

    There are a couple of creative tasks that I have now that repeat every single day including writing 750 words and working for at least an hour on my web app idea. This time is blocked out everyday, so no matter what I am doing two things that benefit my spirit and sanity.

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    Being productive and spending your energy on “real work” is great, but without having some “you time” your productivity framework can fall apart. Sometimes we just need to be selfish a little bit every day.

    From framework to getting important things done

    Now that you have created a framework of the mundane and creative things that you want to commit to every day, it’s time to clear them out of the way so you can concentrate on moving your projects forward and accomplishing your goals. Making these routine tasks a normal part of your day is the first step in creating a productivity framework for your life.

    The more that you don’t have to think about, especially the habitual and even boring stuff, the more you can concentrate on important aspects of your work and creating real value in the world.

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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