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While it has been increasingly challenging to juggle my master’s coursework with my professional workload, I’ve really developed my ability to manage my tasks and get things done. Here are four strategies I have used this past month that, to be dorkily honest, get me excited about productivity. Including yes one that involved losing my iPhone and replacing it with a device highlighted by the famous “Snake” game.

The To-Do List vs The Calendar

I’ve always been big on making a to-do list, but then the other day I read this piece by Eric Barker that’s been floating around the internet. It was a challenging perspective to read! So I tried a baby step towards using the strategy of scheduling everything by attaching a time allocation to each item on my to-do list, and wow did it make a huge mental difference. The second I was done writing in time estimates I felt lighter. Now I have some idea of just “how big” my to-do list is, and I’ve also acknowledged that each item on the to-do list is not equal. Assigning times gives me the freedom to take a break from the urgent tasks to get to those second-tier jobs that always get pushed back. Like writing more on my personal blog.

Smartphone Detox

While dropping my iPhone into the Aberdeen Harbor was not a productivity enhancing move (read that story below), the resulting three-week smartphone detox helped me gain a great perspective on how much I overused my device. Armed with a Nokia 105, I realized how often I turned to my iPhone to get the answer to silly questions, how many times I would pick up my phone in social situations, and how much time I wasted playing idiotic games such as, embarrassingly, Cookie Clicker (I had so many cookies!). Having a dumphone, by making me more focused on the people and tasks at hand, paradoxically made me more efficient.

Here’s how I dropped my phone in the harbor. Walking across the 3-foot wide metal gangplank onto the ferry, fiddling with my phone, dropped it, clank as it hits the gangplank, splash as it continues on into the harbor. Phone gone. Disbelief. Then I spent the ferry ride doing my readings; luckily / ironically my work that night was to read chapters from an actual book.

A Fresh Start

There is just too much efficiency gained from the way that apps on a smartphone link to online tools such as Google Drive and Evernote, so I’m back. But I switched platforms to Android and purchased the Nexus 5. I am using my fresh start on a new operating system to make my device one that is about productivity, trying to devote as little space as possible to frivolous apps. Only one game allowed and that’s Uniwar. #Yourturn!

Full Disclosure: I do have a second generation iPad…and lots of games on there…so I’m not swearing off mobile games. 🙂

Widgets Are Great

Less than one week in to my Android life and I am infatuated. The way you can customize icons and widgets, well, iPhone users you are going to get this soon and understand the hype. Here are two pages I am particularly excited about. On this screen I have one-click access to the to-do lists, emails, and google drive folders (via the starred button) for my Master’s courses.


And on this next screen I have compiled direct access to the to-do lists, calendar, and presentation slides for my lessons.


Yes it is intentional in both of those screens that you can see my wife on our wedding day. 🙂

That’s all for now. Thanks for the feedback and for passing along any other tips and tricks you think I oughta use!

Yours in the struggle,