As many people have started working at more than one stable job, which is probably a trend in the coming years, it has become quite important to stay on top of things. This can be problematic when you are trying to juggle a few different part time jobs and/or graduate school. The trick to not being overwhelmed is to stay organized. In our experience, we've discovered that when we are faced with a time crunch, managing it through 10-minute increments makes it easy to GTD. Here are a few tools that will make your busy life easier.
Whenever you're working on more than one thing at a time, like coupling part time jobs with schooling and a busy home life, things can go awry pretty quickly. At some point in time, you'll realize that there are only so many hours in one day, and you won't manage to get everything done well enough to get by. If you're one of the rare people who makes lists and sticks to them, then that should be the way to go for you.
In our experience, when we are under a time crunch, we usually like to manage our productivity in 10-minute increments. When we do so, we concentrate fully on a single task, instead of multi-tasking. Studies have shown that you are more productive when you do one thing at a time instead of doing 3 passably. In fact, you'll end up doing better, which is why it's important to be able to spend enough time on certain problems that you face.
In the mornings, we actually get up an hour earlier so that we can get things done. In our case, these things involve checking and replying to all of our email, since we use Inbox Zero, writing two freelance blog posts, and then checking up on our feeds in Google Reader. Your morning routine might involve different things, but ultimately they can be managed the same way. In the mornings, we stay away from social networking (Twitter and Facebook are the usual suspects) since they can easily take up a lot of precious time.
Here are some of the ways we've been able to adapt technology to serve our needs and to make sure that we stay focused on what we have to do.
1. Simple Text File: By far, using a simple text file in Windows 7 or Mac OS X has been our favorite way of staying organized. We tend to make quick lists, schedule things, write down phone numbers, emails, etc, in a simple text file. The only problem we've seen is that you need to save it a few times a day. Once you've completed a task, you can simply erase it from the text file.
2. Productivity Apps: From iProcrastinate and OMNIFocus, there are a quite a few apps that will help you stay on target. Some of them can be quite expensive, but they tend to do their job fairly well. They are a must if you have a lot of things to get done every single day. There are also some free ones available.
3. Google Docs: Instead of using a text file on your computer, you can move your lists into the cloud by using one in Google Docs. The benefit of this is the autosave and the simplicity of being able to access your list from anywhere.
4. Email: There's nothing easier than sending yourself an email and using it as a to-do list. The only problem that we've found depends on the way that you use your email. For us, if we open our email account it entails work since we use Inbox Zero. This means that we don't have a tab open on our inbox, which won't always work if you use your email as a to-do list.
5. Lists: While we tend to use tech for our lists, there is something satisfying about writing stuff down and crossing it out on a piece of paper. We're recycling a bunch of papers from our Moleskine Desk Calendar and using them to write out lists.
(images by Roger Ratcliffe)