49. why yes, i am a productivity nerd.

thinking about optimizing workflow

Hi there! 👋 I’m Ida, and this is tiny driver, a newsletter about research, pedagogy, culture and their intersections. Thank you for being here. Reach out anytime by just hitting reply, I love hearing from you.

Hello, and happy Monday.

Last week was the official end of the quarter. I finished inputting grades on Tuesday, which marked the end of my time at Northwestern. So bittersweet.

In the following days, I worked on getting a handle over my life. I must admit that a lot of important but non-urgent projects were cast aside as I was moving through this final quarter. Many spontaneous & unconnected thoughts—"must watch Chad tv show—future writing project??" or "where's a good place to get boxes?"—would run in and out of my mind during the Spring. I would jot them down in my notebook, only to remember them when I idly flipped through the pages. Or, I would come across something really cool on the internet—an article, a toolkit, a syllabus—download it and then forget about it. My digital files were a mess, and so was my head.

So, what did I end up doing about it? Reading about optimization and getting hyped with my new Notion setup.

What I consume.

In the Bookshop:
Currently Reading: Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
On Deck: The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

For June's book club, we will be reading Craft in the Real World by Matthew Salesses! Thank you to everyone who voted, and feel free to purchase a copy of the book here! Details are below.

Event info:
Date & Time: Tuesday, June 29 @ 5PM PST/8PM EST
Registration Link!
Suggested donation (for those able to donate): $3-20 through Paypal or Venmo (@idyalz)

One of the books I happened to have on hand re: workflow & productivity was David Allen's Getting Things Done. The book's main purpose is to help folks figure out how to manage their multiple roles and tasks in work and life. Basically, the goal is to get everything out of your head and into a place where you'll be able to find it again and review it regularly. While there is far too much to get into re: "GTD" in one newsletter, there were some principles from his methodologies that really stood out to me.

Here's a visualization of the GTD method:

And here's my updated (& still in progress) Notion* dashboard based on my GTD revelations:

One of the most helpful conceptualizations of day-to-day things that pop into my head is determining whether a task is "actionable" or "non-actionable." In other words, is there a physical & specific task that is associated with the idea? If so, If not, I trash it, file it away in reference, or put it in a separate "dream mode" list to (what he calls the "someday/maybe" file). Even making this switch in the way that I think about my ideas has been so helpful to remind myself that everything I find interesting doesn't have to be done right now. (Particularly helpful for ideas that I have about future projects). Rather, I now have a place I can put all these ideas where they will still be periodically reviewed and safe from taking up space in my head while I'm trying to get current projects done.

Another concept that I loved learning about was the "trigger list," which is essentially a list that's meant to jog your memory as you brain dump tasks & projects for the day or week. Ideally, by seeing the various projects or tasks that could potentially be on your project list, it "triggers" your memory and you can get that thing in the back of your head onto paper (or computer). Here's an example of my list that I subdivided based on the different components of my life tasks:

Have you read Getting Things Done before? What did you think?

Leave a comment

*I've written in passing about Notion before, and I'm hoping to do a more in-depth walk-through of my digital space in another issue. For now, though, I wanted to share with you the two videos that really sold me on the platform. One talks through the pros & cons of various digital note-taking platforms and the other goes into Notion's database function for maximizing workflow efficiency. Enjoy!

Item(s) of note.

  • A thread of people sharing how they are writers outside of academia and still manage to keep the lights on:

A pup-date.

Today Mr. Higgins took Girlie's spot on the couch. Don't worry, Girlie was a very generous doggie and let him stay. 😏

As always, thanks so much for reading through, and I'll see you in the next one!


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