August 30, 2012

Getting stuff done (2/2) – by Steve

In part 1 of this post, Steve looked at getting organised; this post focuses on workflow


So, that’s the general idea in broad brush strokes (See Further reading for a more detailed explanation), but what does that look like on a daily basis? Here’s my workflow:

Do due in next 24 hours

Before I do anything else on my list, I work through the things due in the next 24 hours. Hopefully this list should always be small or non-existent, otherwise, it means you are either using due dates for things that aren’t hard due dates or you have committed to do too much.


Next I use my perspective to work out what I can do and quickly skim through the items. Anything I see that I think “I really should have done that by now” I flag. Don’t flag too much, just the ones that will steal your time and attention if you don’t do them today. Got a deadline coming up you’re worrying about? Flag the next item on that list.

Do flagged in order added

I then do any flagged items in my perspective which are things I’ve decided I will do today. I generally do them in the order they were captured – this helps me with procrastination as I start with the thing I’ve put off for longest.


Hopefully, with a short list of things you’ve decided you can and will do, you’ll finish it before the end of the day. Then just go through as before and flag anything else that’s going to steal your time and attention. If there’s nothing left that worries you, great, the system’s working.

Next I order the things I can do today and flag the 5 oldest.

Then do them….

Then flag the next 5…

And so on, until the day ends.

Share you’re thoughts

What things steal your time and attention? How do you deal with time and attention stealers?

Is ASAP a legitimate label for some tasks or are all tasks without hard due dates equal?

Let us know in the comments.



Here are some software tools you can use to implement the system I’ve described.


Remember The Milk









Further Reading

Getting Things Done – Includes paper record tracking, goal setting and more.

43 Folders – More on time and attention and other thoughts on productivity.

- 2 comments by 0 or more people

  1. Darren Campbell

    Hi Steve

    Great blog. Which tool do you use which allows you to filter the for your current perspective?


    30 Aug 2012, 22:12

  2. Steve Locke-Wheaton


    Thanks for your question.

    I live inside OmniFocus (available for Mac and iOS only). It knows all about contexts/perspectives and let’s you quickly jump between them – it can even use your location to show you tasks you can do nearby.

    Anyone tried and tested Windows/Android alternatives?

    31 Aug 2012, 15:19

Add a comment

Anti-Spam Question
My t-shirt is red. What colour is my t-shirt?
Anti-Spam Answer

Your IP address will be recorded. -

You can not use HTML, but you can use our special markup -


Subscribe by e-mail

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Read our sister blogs

Feel pulled in a million directions? Watch what the Research Exchange can do for Early Career Researchers:

Search this blog

Most recent comments

  • Thanks Nadine! I agree, job interview format is very important, and for understanding the contempora… by Charlotte Mathieson on this entry
  • Hi Charlotte, Thanks for copying this! Could you advise them to read Caroline Edwards' post on acade… by Nadine Muller on this entry
  • A query in response to this blog post came in via email, so I've copied it here (with a slight edit … by Charlotte Mathieson on this entry
  • Thanks, actually I have a post on the Vitae work/life balance session coming up very soon! by Charlotte Mathieson on this entry
  • Hello, This is a good publication to help researchers balance their life and career. http://www.vita… by Beata on this entry

Join us on Facebook

Twitter Updates

The Wolfson Research Exchange

Blog archive

Not signed in
Sign in

Powered by BlogBuilder