February 4, 2013

Broken Workflow, Better Tasks

As I declared a few months back, my super-duper GTD task management system came crashing down as soon as I didn’t have control over all the inputs. 1

Slowly I have reached a new working system, but it’s fugly as hell. Even worse, it’s very inefficient: Taskpaper is still the everything bucket, but I use a monthly calendar to target the top 3 tasks of the day, and —this is the scary part— Excel becomes the official records holder at the end of the week.

And all this is working surprisingly well. Any day my membership to Productivity Procrastinators will be revoked.

Here’s what I believe is going on:

  1. Friction causes Review.
    Against all my impulses, I don’t have a script that imports from Taskpaper to Excel. This forces me to copy and rewrite information from one place to the other. Any tasks that was too vague, or not descriptive enough, now gets another chance of being reviewed. This has turned out to be a good problem.
  2. Pivoted Labels/Categories.
    My previous weekly reports weren’t working. The bastard child of a task list and status report, the result was an unreliable document with an attitude. Rethinking what I believe would be useful to share with my team, I came up with:

    • Problems: items that you need support to accomplish.
    • Pending: things that are on-going but still not done.
    • Plans: upcoming tasks that should be started this week.
    • Progress: done tasks.
    • Paused: Limbo, things that are stuck or not started, but that you can’t forget.

Obviously, sometimes I can’t help the MBA in me and I end up with a 5Ps categories model. This should be the first sign of why you shouldn’t listen to me.

In any case, happy doing.


  1. In other words, if I’m not the boss of me, it shows. 


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