how i work

​over the course of my life, i’ve developed some pretty rigorous thinking about how i work. every few weeks someone asks me about a personal system i’ve developed and this piece is for them. i’ve picked up a few different key tools from a range of methodologies so here’s a quick rundown. each of these summaries is the tip of an iceberg. at some point (hopefully) i’ll expand how each influences my workflow later… but for now, the summaries.

getting things done by david allen

have a comprehensive system to track EVERYTHING that requires action in your life. this includes work, side projects, and personal things. there are many specific practices that i use (with varying levels of success, heh) including: the weekly review, the ‘next action’ and 'waiting for’ task labels, the six-level model for reviewing work, and the 4 criteria for choosing actions in the moment. 


six things the most productive people do every day

it’s my goal every day to have an interrupted morning work session. it allows me to get into flow (more on this below). it also incorporates the cognitive budgets and decision fatigue thinking. i can’t even believe much this 'barking up the wrong tree’ post has changed my life in the last few years. pure gold.


dividing work sessions (even “uninterrupted” morning work sessions) into pomodoros helps keep me focused while keeping me honest about how long tasks take. it also gives me five-minute breaks to get up and walk (and it’s pretty old news now that walking is good for creativity and has all sorts of other positive effects).


flow, sometimes called zoning, is when working on something takes such intense focus that you are consumed by it. entering flow is a tricky thing (especially for managers because of maker time vs manager time) but setting myself up to get there is both productive and makes me FEEL productive. and feeling productive has great momentum-building effects on the rest of my day and upcoming days.

good to great

several concepts here are useful, but the one that impacts me the most is the hedgehog concept


working to refine my person hedgehog concept is a continuous process. but the hedgehog conceptual frame helps me assess where i’m going and how to get there. super helpful, especially combined with the 50,000-foot view from getting things done. 

there’s a quote in getting things done to the effect of 'if you aren’t thinking about how you’re working, you’re no longer in control of your work’. i subscribe to that line of thinking wholesale.

i could talk about productivity all day so if you want to talk details, get in touch!

note: both graphics in this post are just my stylized adaptations of concepts from their respective books. nothing new here.

work inspiration: