Daily Routine, One Year Later

This short article was originally posted in April 2010 on Jeffrey’s old blog.

So it has been over a year since I first posted my daily routine, what worked, what didn’t, and what I felt I needed to do different. That post has been a favorite, so I figured a year-later followup would be useful.

To review last years list:

BENEFICIAL

Review my todo list first thing when I get into work in the morning.

I have gotten good about this, largely because I am keeping ALL of my work in my todo list. I work in an IT Operations team, so when a new ticket comes in I create a placeholder for it and start building out tasks needed to complete the work.

Check my work email only a couple of times per day.

This depends on the type of work I am doing at the time. I have had to compromise on this a little and, rather than set specific times I check my email, I set time blocks I do nothing other than the work task at hand.

Prioritize my work.

I used to rank my work A-E and the end result is everything that stays on my list is priority A. This is not useful. I am using a tool (a separate post for that coming soon) that allows me to stack rank everything I am doing. I do not apply a false ranking to my todo items, but a true rank (should I do this before or after the other things on my list). I usually have a couple of things in a ‘working state’ at a time since my job requires a certain level of multitasking.

Update my todo list with everything that I get done or need to do.

Once you have everything in front of you it can be simultaneously stressful and freeing. Get everything down and then be realistic about what you can do. I know people who try to do it all and end up making themselves sick. They seem to fear putting it all out there because it will be overwhelming. Remember the story of Vice Admiral James Stockdale, a prisoner in the “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnam War. He reported that the people who did not survive were the optimists, those who always believed they would be home by some particular date. He said, “They died of a broken heart.”

From this comes the Stockdale Paradox. In the man’s own words: “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Build a list of things you think you need to do. Filter them through your goals. Be brutal, but know you are going to prevail.

Spend time on professional development.

This blog is part of it. I am working on developing my consulting business, so I am spending time on that when I have it. I am currently reading ‘Switch’ on how to affect change when change is hard.

Get a few minutes of face time with my boss.

My boss is a nice guy with a wicked sense of humor, so this is pretty easy.

DETRIMENTAL

Getting on my computer before work in the morning.

I have mostly stopped this bad habit. My wife and I commute together (and work for the same company) so timing our schedules to be ready at the same time has helped.

Check my personal email at work more than once a day.

I probably look a couple of times per day, but I have also worked to reduce and filter the amount of mail I get in my personal account. Fewer mailing lists, vendor emails, and the like have made processing my email box a quicker proposition.

Things I need to be doing

Purge items from my todo list/replyto mailbox that I have not gotten to and is not important to my goals.

The first part of this is to have goals. On the site, Brazen Careerist, I have listed my goals as:

  • Establish my consulting business
  • Present at technical conferences
  • Be indispensable

The last item is from Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin. It is by far the most compelling and difficult to define goal I have at this point in my life.

Define a list of goals for this point in your life. Use that list as a filter for everything on your list. Remember that there are three types of work in life: The Critical Few, The Functionally Mandatory, and The Trivial Many. What do you want to spend your time on?

Breaking tasks into manageable next actions consistently and immediately.

I have gotten better about this with keeping all of my work stack ranked. I have to break larger tasks into smaller pieces so I can work them in with all the other demands on my time. I have found a project undivided is a project never started.

I will be thinking over the next bit and a while about what, if anything needs to change on this list. Until then, stay productive.

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