Monday, January 15, 2007

Keeping Focus

As you go through your day how do you keep focus on the things that need to get done?
Yesterday Kris posted an entry on the 'voice' inside her head telling her to do something.
To stay focussed Kris says
"The best way I find to do this is to reset my Goals and have them clearly on display and "in my face"..."

Do you do this?
How do you keep your goals in your face?

I have tried lots of different approaches. I would love to have everything in a digital world but it never seems to work. If I keep my tasks in an application, Outlook, Project, PlanPlus, an Excel spreadsheet or a Google doc they get lost behind the other windows on the screen.
The one solution I always come back to is the whiteboard.
Every morning I write out all the tasks I need to complete that day on the whiteboard. It is then my mission to cross those tasks off and clear the whiteboard. Some days I get all the tasks done early and I will add some more to the whiteboard. On other days I dont finish them all and they roll over to the next day.
The whiteboard is always there, staring at me, telling me what must get done. It helps me stay focussed on the jobs for the day.

What do you use and how do you make sure you stay focussed?


Elmar said...

I know it does not sound exciting but I use Stickies ( to manage my daily goals.

It is no config, easy software which kind of imitates postit-notes. For me, it´s power lies in simplicity.

For every goal I create a note and I try to have a blank screen at the end of the day. Goals that are postphoned are send to hibernate.

If I switch computers I send the Sticky to that computer... or PDA, or PPC, or wathever.

Dr. Neil said...

Hi Elmar,

do you find the Stickies get hidden behind other windows while you are working?
I have tried software like this before and found it far too frustrating.

Elmar said...

1. You can make important notes "stick" to the top layer like you would if you use real post-its with one click. The good thing is that you can set a transparency so that you can still see your full working screen. You can do that for an indiviual note or as a general convention

2. You can set an alarm to a note and it pops up on the given point of time

3. You can send a note to sleep for a range of time

I guess, you have to give it a try to see if it works for you ;-)

william tulloch said...

Having wrestled with the whole "Get Things Done" problem I finally settled on mind maps and MindManager in particular for handling my "to-do" lists. Basically at the beginning of each week I create a new map with a node for each day of the week and then assign tasks to each day. As each task is completed I can tick it off and if there is any thing that hasn't been done I can move it to the next day. Additionally i use FolderShare to sync the mind map files across all of my computers.

It may seem like overkill to use something like MindManager to handle one's to-do list but having tried other solutions (pieces of paper, Outlook, etc)I have found it best suits the way I think and work. The problem I have always found with lists is that they are, by their nature, inherently hierarchical. They impose an order which implies a degree of infexibility. With MindManager I am able to move and reorder things as I see fit without losing track of things.

Dr. Neil said...

Hi William,

yes I know a few people who like MindManager. It seems to be a good way of organizing tasks in the first place. It still leaves the issue of how to keep the daily tasks in your face while you are working.