My productivity hacks

Like most people, there are many more things that I would like to do than I have time to do. I believe that learning to identify action items that simply should not be done is valuable, but not easy to do. I am mildly attention deficit in the sense that I can only think about or attend to one thing at a time. For a computer scientist, this has been a super power, but is personally inconvenient. I keep 3 TODO lists:
  • TODO high priority - I tend to have 1 to 3 things on this list. I time box my activities so this list is the actions that I will rotate through. I usually work in 60 to 90 minute sprints, but for deep coding this may be 3 or 4 hours.
  • TODO open - everything that I would like to do, but a lot of stuff on this list gets deleted with no further effort (the all important decisions on what not to do).
  • TODO done - instead of deleting completed actions on "TODO high priority" I cut the text and paste the action text to the top of this list.
I really like the web site and app blocker. I feel like I am setting parental controls on myself. I keep a list of fun but not very useful web sites and apps (e.g., Hacker News, Twitter, Reddit tech groups, and Facebook) that can only be accessed in the early morning, briefly during lunch, and in the evening times. I sometimes temporarily unblock sites if I want to quickly post something to social media.

I place no limits on the time I spend on meditation, hiking, kayaking, cooking + meals, and reading good books. I try to limit watching streaming media to a few shows and also movies I watch with my wife and/or friends.


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