Every get the feeling that your professional skills are getting a little dated? With a lot of projects on-the-go at work, I’ve found my “post-it-note stuck to the monitor” approach of task management was failing me. At the same time, my business vocabulary was a little “turn-of-the-century” as well. So I decided to do something about it.
First I tackled time management for all the emergent “little things” on my daily todo lists. Time tracking is just boring and I’ve never found an on-line or software solution that worked well over an extended period of time. As I mentioned earlier I stumbled across the Printable CEO series and it’s solved this problem perfectly. I can’t stress how great it is. For me, you can’t beast a pen in hand and a piece of paper casually sitting on your desk. Ink on paper is the easiest and most comforting solution to recording tasks. Not only do these forms keep me on-top of my todo list and keep me focused on what’s important, they’re also fun to fill out. Colouring in all those little bubbles reminds me of the relaxing evenings I spend colouring with my daughter and her crayons.
Next up was long term planning. I considered a few project management packages such as Microsoft Project or Omni Plan but decided they were overkill for what I needed. Besides, I want planning to improve my time, not take more of it away. I only need to keep track of a few large projects with just a few people so a simple shared calendar would do. Exploring my hard drive iCal seemed to be a perfect fit. Since I just installed Leopard, the todo’s and calendar combination also proved extremely useful, especially with all the tight integration with Mail.
My only new issue now was keeping things in sync across my personal and work computers. Copying files across the net or on memory sticks was a pain so I finally took the plunge and signed up for the .mac service that’s always been prodding me on my Mac. For a small fee, Apple keeps all my computers in sync for me and I only have to sit back and relax. It also includes a bunch of additional bonuses such as online a file storage as well as bookmark, email, calendar and system component syncing. Maybe now I’ll send my Mom an Apple iCard for christmas.
Lastly, I needed to update a lot of my professional skills. I keep myself up-to-date with all the web related technologies and trends but my overall business and professional techniques are a little stale. After getting through the organizational changes I mentioned above, I also realize I had little time left to devote to self-improvement. Really the only “free time” I had left was the two hours a day I spend in the car commuting to work. I figured I could use that a little more wisely so I fired up iTunes and loaded up my iPod with some great podcasts including:
- The Design View Show - Andy Rutledge at his best.
- Freelance Radio - Aimed at freelancers but the talk and discussion applies to everyone.
- Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing - Improve your writing.
- boagworld.com: web design podcast - One of the most popular web professional podcasts.
- and a bunch of stuff from iTunes U (while I was there I even picked up the Little Kids Rock guitar lessons so I can finally learn to play along with my daughter’s songs).
So now I’m managing my time wisely, keeping on top of my tasks and picking up more knowledge and skills while I drive to work. Not bad considering it was only a slight change in my daily routine. Now I just have to mark off half an hour for “Blogging” on my Emergent Task Planner…