Tuesday, May 03, 2005

More on the deck of revolving strategies

So, I mentioned in my previous post that I have created a deck of index cards with different strategies for choosing what I'm going to work on that day.

I decided I would give this method a trial week. So every morning this week, after I process my inbox, I look over my task list quickly to get an idea of everything I have to do in context. Then, I flip through my strategies, and consider my energy level, focus, available time, and various pressures and priorities. And then I pick a strategy.

Then, I choose the tasks to work on that fit in with my strategy, and build a quick list of to-dos for the day.

So far, it's working really well - I'm impressed. Here's what I think is going on for me: By deciding up front what my overall strategy for the day will be, it is very easy to pick and choose exactly which tasks I'm going to work on. If I choose to work on Squeaky Wheels - I can stop hemming and hawing about whether I really ought to include some high-value stuff, too. I'll get to that tomorrow - today I'm oiling those squeaky wheels. I know exactly which projects those are, and I've made a choice to hammer on them for the rest of the day. Planning is easy.

Another thing - it doesn't come naturally to me to do a lot of task switching. So, a strategy like "Touch as many projects as possible" is something I wouldn't naturally decide to do. It just feels wrong. Or it did, until yesterday.

Yesterday, I considered my priorities, and after looking at my deck of strategies, I surprised myself by deciding that "Touch as many projects as possible" would serve my needs best. It was one of my most productive days in weeks.

Today, I worked on Squeaky Wheels. It served my needs. Two of my coworkers commented on my high output today.

I think I like this - we'll see how it holds up over time.

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