My Productivity Setup (a to-do list, a journal and a calendar)

Aug 24, 2021 by Kolappan N

After switching around with a lot of apps and methods I have finally settled on a system for keeping track of my tasks and goals. I have been using it for 8 months since the start of this year and still feel it is good. This blog post goes into detail of my productivity setup.

As seen from the title of this blog post my system contains three main things

  1. A ToDo list
  2. A Physical Journal
  3. A Calendar

1. ToDo List

The first part of this setup is a ToDo list. You can use any todo app for this purpose. I personally find ToDoist and MS ToDo to be great choices. You can also use a Kanban board instead of a ToDo list here. It is better if this part of the system is digital.

I jolt down all my ideas, things I plan on doing, any task that isn’t tied to a specific date in the todo. This includes things like ideas for blog posts, things to learn, books to read, places to visit, etc… I have separated the todo into three projects

Inside projects I use labels to classify the entries further. I have labels for what type of work it will be(ex: t-learning) and what benefit it will being to me(b-knowledge). I am also experimenting with using priorities too.

Every entry will contain the name of the task, reference links, notes, etc… You can have sub-tasks if needed, but I don’t give much thought about breaking tasks at this stage. For me todo is a repo of all the things I ever wanted to do. That is why I call them entries and not tasks.

2. A Physical Journal

I use a physical journal to write down my goals. I use a bullet journal with three bookmarks. I separate the goals into three

You can further divide each of the above into sections like well being, career, family, etc… to suite your needs.

Yearly goals

For every section you have chosen, write down the things that you want to see to be completed next year. Leave ample space in each section and a page or 2 extra in your journal for adding new sections. Never feel bad to cross out obsolete goals that are you no longer want to achieve.

When creating the yearly goal, do not consult your todo or any backlogs. Do not choose a yearly goal because you wanted to check off something from your todo. Choose something you truly want.

Monthly goals

While fixing on things I want to do in a month, I will consult both the yearly goal and the todo backlog. Monthly goals will help you progress towards your yearly goals while also doing some stuff that you wanted to do like reading a novel. There should be a healthy balance between these two.

Everytime you write a monthly goals go through your annual goal and remove the ones that are no longer relevant.

Weekly goals

Weekly goals are written just before the start of my work week. I only consult my monthly goals before writing them and use it to evaluate my progress towards that months goal.

3. Calendar

First any errand or task with a fixed date such as Exams will directly go on my calendar. I will also note down the days I won’t be available such as travelling, attending events, etc… on the calendar. Other than that I don’t add much events well in advance. I do not sync my todo to calendar and don’t assign dates to items in my todo list. If it has a fixed due date it will be on my calendar.

Then every night, I will look into the weekly goals, things I need to do tomorrow and reserve timeslots on the next day for various tasks.

So this is my productivity setup and how I keep track of my tasks. Hope you found it helpful.