The Three Tools

One thing alone troubles me: the thought that I might do what my true self does not will or that I might do what it wills in the wrong way or at the wrong time.
— Marcus Aurelius

Abstract

To plan and complete work, we only need three tools. There are hundreds of tools available and recent ones are particularly good. However, if we get tempted to use too many tools, we loose focus, have to maintain redundant information, and can’t find things. If we try to keep everything in too few tools, it’s hard to separate the types of work, things get clunky.

 

Examination

Calendar

Requirements - One calendar, synced automatically to all your devices.

What to include - Where you need to be and when. Generous transition time (if the actual drive takes 15 minutes, schedule 30 so you can get out the door, into the meeting, and take a seat with time to spare.) Free time (if it’s not blocked off, it won’t happen.)

Test - If you showed up to all the events on your calendar today, would you miss anything you wanted to do?

My Tool - Google Calendar

 

Task Qs

Requirements - List hierarchy at least three deep (eg. project, task, subtask.) Synced automatically to all your devices. Multi-dimensional visibility (task order, by date, by tag.)

What to include - Projects are ordered lists of the tasks that the projects consist of. Tasks are work packages that can, in theory, be completed in one sitting. Subtasks are steps that, when completed, mark completion of the task.

Test - Tasks (and subtasks if broken down) are discrete and completable in one sitting. Next tasks are assigned to yourself or the right team member. Next tasks have a due date. When complete, the task can be crossed off and not referenced again.

My Tool - Asana

 

Work

Requirements - Organized in multiple dimensions (by folder, created, last modified, etc.) Synced, or at least accessible, across all devices and offline. Manages all file types with context and notes. Can be linked to from task lists.

What to include - The complete body of your work. Draft information is collected for pulling together when actual work begins. Work in progress is linked through task Qs. Completed work is saved as reference and raw material for future work.

Test - When you know something exists, how many places do you have to look for it? How long does it take to find? The answers should be ‘one’ and ‘less than ten seconds.’

My Tool - Evernote

 

Action

► Consolidate all where to be & when material to Google Calendar

► Consolidate all what to do information to Asana

► Consolidate all work material to Evernote (if this seems daunting, just move active work and resolve to pull things in as they are called up)


Why you won’t do it

  1. This seems like it will take a long time.
  2. I know where everything is now/I keep everything in my smart head.
  3. My team won’t get on board. We have a bunch of platforms we are required to use.
  4. I like to keep everything in one platform.

How to do it anyway

  1. It will take time but not as much as you think. Transfer all in one pass to minimize time suspended between two systems.
  2. The mental capacity required to keep a map is better used elsewhere. This is the kind of thing technology is great for.
  3. Lead by example. You can use your system to link out to the other systems you are required to use.
  4. Keeping calendar, task, and work material separate but in one system uses mental capacity best used elsewhere. Keeping them in separate systems makes the lines very clear and their uses very clear.
Johnathan Deckert