Yep, I’m one of those people.
I love productivity hacks and tools. I love being productive. I cram my days full of plans and tasks to-do’s, and then I manage it all with lists.
And, I find much satisifaction in crossing things off of my to-do lists, one by one.
I’m also a tracker. I track how many steps I take in a day, and how many calories I eat as well. I track how many miles I walk in a week, month and year. I track what books I read, what books I want to read, and even what books I have no desire to read. I track what songs I listen to on my Amazon Echo, using If This Than That, which automatically records them to a spreadsheet. I track what songs I use in worship; both personal/private and corporate. I track the scripture verses I pray through early each morning, and I keep every single prayer that I write out, in a password protected file.
Shoot, I even track weather, with a fancy-shmancy weather station in my backyard, that tells me the barometric pressure, daily rainfall, temperature and humidity both inside and outside of the house, and windspeeds and wind gusts.
I know. It sounds like I’m obsessed.
And, to some degree, that evaluation would be right.
At first, I worried about it–because, I’m a worrier. Am I too legalistic? Am I focused more on the lists and the tracking, than on the activities themselves—the healthy feeling that comes from exercise, the settled soul that often comes from prayer and study in the early mornings, the joy that comes from music?
Probably, at times. Probably at times I am legalistic in all of this. Probably there are plenty of times when I suffer from the old “Sunday School Envelope Checkbox” syndrome–if you grew up in church in the 70’s, you know what I mean–when we’d grab those stubby little pew pencils and make big checks in the boxes that covered our offering envelopes–Read Bible. Offering Brought. Lesson Studied. Visits. Other Contacts. Sunday School Attended.
I marked them all. Even though I couldn’t drive and make “visits.” After all, I was only seven.
So, here I am, years later, and I still love a good checklist.
But today, my love for them goes just a tad deeper than my love for them, sitting on those hard wooden pews, bored with the sermon.
I’ve discovered just how powerful they are, against discouragement.
You see, there is something motivating in crossing off a task from a to-do list. Just that act seems to cause the brain to think, “Ok. Good job, now what’s next?” And as those little–or big–tasks are tackled, it chips away at discouragement and depression. Does productivity cure the grieves in your life perfectly? No. That healing comes only from God. But I speak from experience–staying active and setting goals and crossing off tasks has done my brain and soul, oh, so much good.
In fact, John Piper alludes to that in his article “Talking to Your Tears”. Maybe not exactly, but I think some of the application is the same. You can read his words here: Talking to Your Tears.
In light of all that, I’d love to share with you, dear reader, one of my favorite Productivity Tools, and encourage you to check it out.
This is the newest productivity tool in my arsenal. If you are familiar at all with JIRA or Confluence, or Agile Project Development–this tool is owned by that same company. I listed it a couple of weeks ago in my Friday Findings, but using it throughout today gave me the idea to write this post and expand on it some.
In Trello, a user creates different “boards” for, well, whatever fits their life. As an example, here are a few boards I currently have, in Trello:
- My Tasks
- Work Trips
- Christmas 2017
- Bethany’s Graduation and College
- Writing Submissions
Each of these “boards” contain columns, and for each of those columns, I create “Cards” for whatever I might need.
“My Tasks” is the board I use every single day. On that board, these are the columns I have created:
- InBox: This is where I throw things that I need to deal with, or tasks that I need to complete, but that I’m not sure when I will get to them.
- Projects: These are big ticket items: Lower Cholestorol, Write a Book
- Today: This is my bread and butter. This column contains my Daily To-do’s–a checklist that I use every single day, that contains absolutely every thing I do in a normal day’s routine, from making my bed, to prayer/study, to taking my vitamins, to starting a load of laundry and checking my bank account. There are about 30 items in here and my goal each day is to complete them all. Most days I don’t, but I give it a try every single day.
- Today: This column also contains tasks that have to be done TODAY. Work assignments with a due date of today, dropping off license plates of the car I donated to the DMV, mowing the yard. Each of these become an individual “card”, so that later I can move it to a different column, as it is completed.
- This Week: Maybe there is a task I need to do this week, but not necessarily today. This is where I house those cards.
- Later: You get the picture—this column is for tasks that need to be done, but not this week. Later. Or, this week if I get time.
- Someday/Maybe: I use this column mostly for ideas as they come to me. That way I at least see them every day–a tickler file of sorts, if you are familiar with GTD.
- Completed: Ahh. May favorite column. As I complete tasks, this is where those cards go. And as the list grows, I am encouraged at the progress made.
One word about cards–they are hugely versatile. I can make checklists within cards, assign due dates, attach word docs, pdfs, or spreadsheets, and color code them. I can even “tag” someone else in these cards. The guy I’m dating also uses Trello, but mainly for his major projects; for instance, right now he has a board for selling his house, and another for woodworking/other projects. If I have something that relates to those items, I can tag him in one of my cards, and then he has access to it, and can copy it to his board.
It’s a fantastic tool for team collaboration—if your team has a project coming up, this is a great way to plan it and assign/work off the tasks.
There are also all sorts of integrations with Trello–I have mine set up to feed my Google Calendar and am also integrated with Evernote (Evernote is my brain). If coding is your thing, it integrates with Bitbucket and Github. It’s intuitive, and geeky–but not in a rocket science kinda geeky way. Anyone can get the hang of using it, and can tailor it to their needs.
Ok. I’ll stop.
But seriously–check it out.
Let me say one last thing, though–two more minutes of your time. Maybe the above is overwhelming. Maybe you are struggling just to get out of bed. Maybe you are reading this and thinking, I don’t even have the motivation in me to get dressed tomorrow. The discouragement is so heavy, Shelly, that I can’t even begin to relate.
Friend–I promise you, I get it. I have been there. Heck, sometimes there are still days when the very idea of brushing my hair causes me to melt.
If that’s you, please feel free to email me. I can share with you some of what has helped me. And I can pray for you–and I never say that without earnesty.
In the meantime though, please try to make a list of three things. As simple as:
- Make my bed
- Get showered and dressed
- Go for a walk
And cross them out, as you do them. Give it a try. And then try again tomorrow, adding one more item.
And be encouraged; you are not alone.