Published: April 26, 2021
Reading Time: 6 mins
How we live our lives and the systems we use to keep on top of things is always changing.
As we find new helpful nuggets of advice, we adopt those into our systems to try and be more productive, less busy, or happier.
With that said, it can be challenging enough to define the areas we are struggling with, never mind coming up with an effective solution and implementing it.
I’m writing this article to share with you the process of how I identified my “productivity bottlenecks”, determined an effective solution, and implemented that solution so that I could work more effectively.
I hope that by sharing my approach to problem-solving with you in this way, you might gain some insight that you can adopt to build a more effective life/productivity system for yourself.
My writing workflow for content creation centers around 5 buckets that roughly group chunks of work together.
You can read more about how I do that here: My Writing Workflow For Content Creation.
To set myself up for what my plan is each day, I added each of these buckets as tasks into my task management system:
I currently use the free version of Todoist (affiliate link) as my task management system and it works very well for my requirements.
However, as I’ve set these up to repeat every day, they show up on my Today view which clogs things up.
Having too many things on my Today view is overwhelming for me so I try to limit my daily tasks list to between 3 and 5 items.
As you can imagine, the long list of daily routines hampers this restriction.
To resolve this productivity bottleneck, I set out to search for an answer to my problem online.
I quickly came to realize that labels and custom filters inside Todoist was the way many people were achieving a deliberate Today view of tasks.
While Todoist is to be commended for its natural language processing, very slick UI, and cross-platform functionality, the free version lacks the ability to use labels or custom filters.
I understand that they have to draw the line somewhere but this leaves me with a scenario where I need to make use of their premium features to “make my life easier”.
Faced with the option of upgrading to the premium version of Todoist, I wanted to make an informed decision before simply purchasing the upgrade.
I’m not being stingy or extra frugal here (well maybe I am..), I simply want to be sure I’m making the right decision based on my requirements.
Plus, there was also the option that a separate habit tracker app would be better suited to this scenario.
To figure this out, I wrote down my problem on a piece of paper and started brainstorming.
This went through a few iterations but I wanted to write down in the simplest way possible what my problem was and why it was a problem.
I defined my problem like this:
“I want to be able to see a list of regular routines for my content creation process so that I know what to work on each day”.
You could look at this like defining a user story if you’re familiar with the world of agile development:
“As a (type of user), I want (goal) so that (reason)”.
This was my first step to figuring out how to solve my productivity bottleneck.
The next step was to determine the solution to put in place.
By framing the problem I was able to get a sense of the requirements I needed:
Because I wrote all of this down on my piece of paper when brainstorming, I quickly honed in on the solution.
It occurred to me that I didn’t need a fancy habit tracker app or even the premium features Todoist has to offer.
I could simply make a static note in Obsidian with a weekly view (in a table format) to view and check off the routines as I complete them.
This solution seemed to fit all of my requirements so I set about implementing it in Obsidian.
Here’s a screenshot of what I implemented:
As you can see I have:
A quick note here, the Advanced Tables plugin for Obsidian made this process much easier so I highly recommend it if you’re working with tables of any kind.
Once I’d implemented this solution, I tested it out for a few weeks before checking in to see how it was working.
Incidentally, my writing of this article coincides with that reflection.
I can confidently say that this simple solution has worked well for me.
It is fully customizable based on my requirements, it sits inside of Obsidian so I can access it during work, and it easily tracks my routines as I complete them each week.
So overall, I would say this little productivity experiment worked out well. This is partially why I’m writing this article in the first place.
By sharing with you another perspective on improving your systems and processes I hope you are inspired to do the same to always continue to improve.
Even something as seemingly trivial as this has helped to make me work more efficiently and my mind is a lot clearer for having solved this problem.
I hope you found some value in reading this article. I hope it makes you think about your systems and processes in a new way.
If there is a bottleneck that is slowing your work down and causing you frustration, set aside some time to define the problem and try to implement a solution that will make your life easier.
Something I always keep in mind that I learned from The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey is the concept of Plan, Do, Check, Act. This allows for continuous improvement over time, which when you think about it, is something we should all strive for.
If you did find some value in reading this article, please consider sharing it on social media. That’s a great way for other people to find it which would really help me out.
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