How Do You Get Work Done?

Recently I’ve found I’ve struggled to focus, I know I’m not alone. Maybe it’s the sunshine? So I tried co-working online with a friend, sharing our to-do for 25mins, hitting play on the pomodoro timer and actually getting work done. We took a 5 minute break, checked in and then repeated. It’s the most productive I’ve felt in a while as I ticked off my entire to-do list.

My question is, what methods do you use for that external accountability to get your to-do list done. I can’t always co-work, so other methods would be really valuable.

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Pomodoro and “XP Sessions” no matter what you call them are my most productive time too. Unfortunately I’m often needing to solve problems that are best for one person. So it’s too easy to slip into “just chipping away”. Knowing what your triggers are so you can act, will help you getting to the end of a day and not feeling like you accomplished nothing useful otherwise.

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I find I know my distracting triggers but I still end up losing focused unless I have some sort of quiet “study buddy” or something similar. I need to try to figure it out. Hoping some time off will help reset my brain a bit.

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Getting work done lately by delegating. I know it’s not something people really like to do since most of us like to ‘finish our own tasks ourselves’ but … delegating is also an art. The ability to trust someone that they’ll get the job done is a big step.

Lately I’ve been super busy with work and delegating some tasks really helped.

For the Sunshine… just close the curtains :stuck_out_tongue:

What also works is literally block an area in your agenda to focus on X & Y set your chat status to Do Not Disturb. This really helps.

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I find it helpful to list the 3 most needed tasks for tomorrow by the end of the workday.
Start and look at my notebook the next day, help me to stay focused and not wander off with slack notifications, emails, etc.
Sometimes promising me a proper cup of tea or a small break once I finish a task, can help.
That said, it does not work always, but when I feel like I know what I am doing :slight_smile:

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I use the 25 minute work / 5 minute move routine as well. It definitely works best when I have a buddy - keeps me remembering to set the timer, and to get up and move… accountability. I tried the same thing to help my grandson with his homework, but the timing didn’t work. We shortened it to 15 min / 5 minutes which was perfect focus time for him. I also keep track how how many ‘stints’ it takes me to complete a task. It makes me realize where my day goes. Setting prioirities as @andreajensen mentioned, is huge.

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I think that the 25 minutes work 5 minutes move is pretty much what the pomodoro technique revolves around. Pomodoro Technique - Wikipedia
I would expect young people to be for shorter and older people much longer in the actual “zone” and productive. Micro goals for your day are very useful.

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Oh I like the idea of keeping track of how many sessions it takes me to complete a task. Might also help me avoid starting things if I know it will only take X amount of sessions to get it done. Thanks for sharing.

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I used to do this but have gotten entirely out of the habit. I definitely need to reinstate it. I’ve started again this morning. We’re trying to split our work between BAU in the mornings and Project work in the afternoons - so I’m going to highlight the 3 important things for each and see how it goes. Thanks for sharing!

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Ah yeah, that’s the one we’re talking about - I should’ve shared a link in my initial post. Having a long weekend has already helped me settle better which is a good sign. Speaking of, best get back to it! Closing all the tabs to focus.

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It’s a bit old-fashioned, but I love writing my tasks down on post-it notes and sticking them on my desk. That way the tasks are in my periphery all the times. Also, there is something very satisfying about scrunching up a done task and throwing the post-it away.

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I use a similar method to yours. There’s an app called Focus mate that allows you to set up with an anonymous partner for pomodoro style working sessions. You choose a time on a Google style calendar, and at that time a zoom style window is launched in the app. You and your partner work silently for a session of 25 or 50 minutes depending on what you booked. It’s really helped me during times when I feel uninspired. Sometimes I’ll set a session for first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening as an extra push to finish the top things on my list or plan for the following day. The calendar also allows you to write your goal for the session on the calendar so that you have an extra accountability step.

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Oh that’s not a bad shout, I’ve a stash of post-its that have been gathering dust. This could be a great alternative on the days when my pomodoro isn’t working on keeping me focused. I can image the satisfaction, will be giving this a whirl tomorrow…hoping the cats don’t try to eat them!

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I like the idea of first thing or last thing - my struggle is getting started sometimes, but once I do it cascades through my day. Will be giving that a whirl, thanks for the idea!

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A decent notebook app with daily entries. I keep a cross between a checklist, notes, and a work journal in my daily notes. I link the previous day and the next day at the top of the note and tag important items inline. Between being able to navigate through my work notes easily, an already robust search system, and tagging for important content, I have everything I need easily available. Not having to go searching for information tends to keep me focused and moving forward.

For anyone interested in software; on Mac I previously used nvALT and in Ubuntu I’ve moved to Trilium. I would probably stick with Trilium cross platform at this point.

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I am still a fan of the sticky note. There’s also something very satisfying for me when I can write down a task - it has a better chance of sticking in my brain too. :brain: :sparkles:

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I wanted to start by saying I agree with other folks about the Pomodoro method working for me. I did find sometimes I wanted to continue to work through the 20min timer and kick off another session - I would count how many times that would happen to see if I learned anything. So far, the data is inconsistent - I’d start a task using Pomodoro, snooze the first timer and not set another one. Or some days I just wouldn’t use it at all. So the next time I’d use it… I’m working on being more consistent. :innocent:
My recent co-working story: my product team has an open zoom room where we can go to co-work virtually. I used to just call this body-doubling. It is a method I’ve used in the past whenever I struggled to get a task done and I was by myself…I’d go find another human and just work in the same space as them (virtual or physical).
We might not even be working on the same thing at the time - the goal is to just have another person around you and it helps get you into a space to focus on your tasks. I feel like this really relates to rubber duck problem solving.

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My 25c after 30+ ys in the SW business in many roles, thechical and managerial -
Find a way to plan your day and plan it. Think back at school. You had your lessons and did them. Boring but working.

I actually say the same thing to people wanting to get a grip on health and nutrition(got this from my MD wife) - find a process that suits you and stick to it. I count calories, have an excel sheet going back to 1997 with my guestimated daily spenditure and intake. Works for me. But I could never do 5-2.

So, find a way to plan that you find you stick to and use it.

One more thing - admit that you aint the robot the company want, one that works steady in the same pace over the day. Some people work best early (like me), few works best after lunch and many like the late hours.

I’ve been using Pomodoro too, and it’s pretty helpful, sometimes I finish all my work in 2-3 hours and chill for the rest of the day, watch courses or Star Trek :grinning:

You could try joining the google hangout where all the testers sometimes do gather. But more often than not we like to talk; about a load of testing or non testing things.
A google account and clicking bit.ly/testerhangout will get you in

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