On how to be consistent in your work and do not ever forget any of the basic actions you know you have to do every day. How? Keep reading.
How many days do you end up feeling like you have accomplished nothing although you did work hard? The solution to that feeling is easy: log your work. I’ll explain how I do it, so you have another vision to help you build or improve your day.
I love small processes. I love them because they make me more efficient, aware and finally happy. When I complete one of those processes, I sense accomplishment that makes my day. So, whenever I want to be consistent at some job and make it a habit, I create a small process. A process is a series of steps to be performed in sequence, and for that, checklists are the best (You can check A. Gawande “The Checklist Manifesto”)
Throughout your day, you do many things, and definitely, there are some actions that you do every day. Some of them are pure habits, like greeting your teammates in the chat. And some others are not, because you just started to do them or they are just temporal.
As an example, on the ramp-up of my morning, I always do the same actions:
- Say hello to my team.
- Review mail (inbox zero).
- Review the calendar for the day.
- Review chat to catch up with the previous evening conversations (Teamwork Chat).
- Review my inbox on Teamwork Projects.
- Refresh the Sprint Kaizen.
- Review open PRs on Github.
- Plan the work for the day.
After lunch, I also do other activities like more PR’s reviews. And again in the afternoon, I have some stuff that I do every day.
- Fill in my “Day Result Summary”.
- Reflect upon my day.
- Say goodbye to my team.
I like to do those things always in the same order and not miss any of them. The best way to do so is by creating a checklist that I reuse every day.
A simple, automatically created checklist make you consistent.
The daily checklist (from a template).
NOTE: I use Day One for my daily checklist. I’ll talk more about it later, but you can use any tool you want as long as you can automate its creation.
When my day starts, the first thing that I do is to create a new entry in Day One. But, I did build this entry not as a regular one but from a template. That entry then contains the complete template for my day, including checklists for the morning, noon and afternoon activities, plus much other stuff, as you will see.
Those activities on the checklist allow me to always start my morning and afternoon in the same way. At the time, I do not forget not so engaging but essential work. But the most significant benefit that I get from it is that it gives me an easy and attractive entry to my work. It feels like a nice warm-up before working on User Stories or investigating bugs.
Here you have an example of my template:
# Teamwork: Q1S1 - <Sprint Theme> - Day <> Study time: Start check list: ☐ GTD Daily Review. ☐ Kick off the day log checklist. ☐ Say Hi (gm␣␣). ☐ Review Mail. ☐ Review Calendar. ☐ Review TW Calendar. ☐ Review TW Inbox. ☐ Review Reported issues (https://digitalflower.teamwork.com/index.cfm#/tasklists/133247550). ☐ Review Chat. ☐ Check the KAIZEN. ☐ Check for rejected task. ☐ Check the correct status of my ongoing task in the board. ☐ Fill the Standup report. ☐ Share the Standup summary in Chat. ☐ Review Open PRs. After lunch check list: ☐ Review Open PRs. Off Checklist ☐ Fill the "Day Results Summary" if not yet done ☐ Fill the Sprint Summary (bear://x-callback-url/open-note?id=1740E1C1-106B-4885-BA62-2309-000023E234234F813B) ☐ Say Goodbye (out␣␣) # Standup Report: Accomplished since last Standup: • (Take it from yesterday) To accomplish for the next Standup: • Today I plan Day Log: “t_ _” for just time, “lm_ _” for meeting, “lc_ _” for coding , “lb_ _” for break, “la_ _” for back, “lsb__” for self brainstorm. Ramping up! Notes to the Team ☐ Notes to Management: ☐ Day Result Summary Added Code or Doc: • Added Value: •
I wake up early in the morning, and I study for one hour. In the
Study time section, I log the subject of my study.
As you can see, first, you will find the checklist for the morning, after lunch and afternoon. You might not make sense of many of the checks in my list, and that is because they are not generic but custom to my way to work. When building your checklists, you have to come with the actions that you do or want to do.
Then you have the standup report. I use this to properly report on my team standup meeting and keep a log of the highlights of the day for myself. I get yesterday’s information from the previous day log, and today’s information is my planning for the day.
Then there is the daily log, which I’ll explain in more detail later.
The following section is for writing down questions that appear during my day. I do not want these questions to distract me, but I do not want to forget them either. I’ll try to answer them during standup or on chat while switching tasks.
Finally, you will find the “Day Results Summary”. It is a small exercise that I do every day that takes 5 minutes. There, I reflect upon the result of the day to evaluate how effective I have been. It also helps me identify points of improvement for the next day.
As you can see, the entry in my log guides me along the day to free my mind to focus on the necessary staff and not forget the basics. It also helps me get good habits on taking notes and reflecting on my work.
The daily log
The daily log is the most fun part of it all.
The goal of the daily log is to have a map of my day, helping me keep track of what my day looks like and how I split my day. It is a tool that helps me reflect on my day later.
Whenever I switch context, have a meeting, or do a break, I log into this section. To make things more quick and fun, I use Typinator expansions to get the timestamp and sometimes a label. As you can see, in the daily log section, there is a comment with reminders for expansions. For example, typing
t<space><space> will expand to
(09:30), or typing
llb<space><space> will expand to
(09:30) lunch break, An example of a daily log can be:
(7:30) Ramping up! (8:05) PR's (09:26) coding on: <User story link> (10:15) coding on: <User story link> (11:20) Investigating <User story link> (12:00) meeting: (12:30) Lunch break. (13:30) Back. (13:31) Investigating <User story link> (14:15) Break! (14:27) Back! (16:30) Out!
Pro tip: To include the User Story link, I use Typinator again. The expansion takes the link from the copy/paste buffer, so I copy the URL and then do the expansion.
When I finish my workday, I have a perfect map of my day. You might think that it is way too detailed, but I enjoy doing it, and it helps me be mindful about my work. As a side effect, It helps me avoid distractions, I can not explain why, but the best I do it, the less distracted I am along the day.
Creating new habits
I’m sure you are familiar with habit stacking (check J Clear “Atomic Habits”). All those actions on the checklist are already habits, and I can do them without the checklist, but I still enjoy following them. It makes me feel productive. It also helps me when, temporarily, I need to add a new step. In that case, I add a new checkbox, and because I follow the checklist every day, it helps me incorporate that new action quickly and consistently.
It sometimes happens that because of changes in the organization I work for, I need to visit a website every day or report about something. In that situation, I change the checklist adding that new action and I’m sure I won’t forget.
Why DayOne and Typinator
Of course, you can use any tool that you like. It is not about the tool at all. I use Day One because it has been my journal for many years. Also, this kind of login is time-related, as my journal is, so It makes sense to have it sorted by day, weeks, months and years.
In Day One, I did create a new journal just for work. That journal contains work log entries, and the tool allows me to see it in different ways, tag it and many other features like including audio recordings of meetings if I wish.
On the other hand, Typinator is a text expander facility that I have been using for a very long time, maybe since version 1 or 2. It is not as visually appealing as others, but it works very well. Also, I did learn how to add Ruby and Python scripts to it to make smarter expansions. I use it for many things. Before Day One offered templates, I expanded the daily log entries with Typinator. It is powerful and straightforward to use. But again, you can use any other expander.
My daily work log is always open on the secondary monitor or in the first macOS space when I’m on the go. It is quick and fun and brings many benefits, being the biggest consistency and reflection.
If you do not have one, give it a go. Do not hesitate to give me any advice, and I’ll be delighted to improve my process or help you improve yours.
To get a better send on how it looks, here you have yesterday’s daily log. I have changed the URLs and some text for privacy.
# Teamwork: Q1S1 - Desk - Day 4 Give support to desk and cursor pagination. Study time: JS basics review. Start check list: ☑︎ GTD Daily Review. ☑︎ Kick off the day log checklist. ☑︎ Say Hi (gm␣␣). ☑︎ Review Mail. ☑︎ Review Calendar. ☑︎ Review TW Calendar. ☑︎ Review TW Inbox. ☑︎ Review Reported issues (https://digitalflower.teamwork.com/index.cfm#/tasklists/23452345). ☑︎ Review Chat. ☑︎ Check the KAIZEN. ☑︎ Check for rejected task. ☑︎ Check the correct status of my ongoing task in the board. ☑︎ Fill the Standup report. ☑︎ Share the Standup summary in Chat. ☑︎ Review Open PRs. After lunch check list: ☑︎ Review Open PRs. Off Checklist ☑︎ Fill the "Day Results Summary" if not yet done ☑︎ Fill the Sprint Summary (bear://x-callback-url/open-note?id=1740E1C1-106B-4885-BA62-2309-23452345) ☑︎ Say Goodbye (out␣␣) ☑︎ Clock Out. ## Standup Report: Yesterday: • Get acquainted with the Desk Status application. • Sprint Task: web view gestures: https://digitalflower.teamwork.com/index.cfm#/tasks/23452345 • Take rejected task (https://digitalflower.teamwork.com/#/tasks/234523) and investigate the current status. I did consult the team on how to proceed with that. • Tech Meeting. Today: • Meeting with mike • Create tasks for managing notifiees and mentions based on privacy. Not sure if that was a regression or a not implanted bug. Create new tasks derived from (https://digitalflower.teamwork.com/#/tasks/2451234) • Prepare and hold the kick off meeting of my task https://digitalflower.teamwork.com/index.cfm#/tasks/34563456 Day Log: “t_ _” for just time, “lm_ _” for meeting, “lc_ _” for coding , “lb_ _” for break, “la_ _” for back, “lsb__” for self brainstorm. (7:35) Ramping up! (7:48) Answer Marcillio’s poll (7:58) PRs (9:47) Done with PR’s (10:17) Done opening the tasks for the permissions. (10:30) Taken this task https://digitalflower.teamwork.com/index.cfm#/tasks/234523 (10:30) Investigating how the current `MentionsModule` works. (11:15) Meeting with mike. (12:01) standup (13:52) Lunch break. (13:52) Back (14:00) Prepare kick off meeting. (15:00) Hold kickoff meeting with marcillio and Denis. (15:55) Administrative stuff with health insurance (16:32) Out. Notes to the Team ☑︎ Create the tasks according to the discussion here: https://digitalflower.teamwork.com/chat/channels/220620/messages/322234132 Day Result Summary Added Code or Doc: • None • PR Reviews and test. • Conde investigation Added Value: • Agile 4th value shared with the team. • Coaching: Did kick off meeting for my task. No body does it.