I’ve got some lofty goals this year for my work and projects.  I want to build at least three new products per month for Grow Development, build a platform over at Life With A Mission, and deliver happiness to the customers of WooThemes.  My wife Amanda and I chose the word Hustle to represent 2013.

Hustle In The Early Morning

The last few weeks I’ve been focusing on waking up early (between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.) in order to grab that early quiet kid-free time to get some quality productive work done.  The kids normally wake up between 7:00-7:45 a.m., so I’m lucky to get two hours to myself.  After this it’s breakfast time with the kids then time to start working for Woo.

While the early morning isn’t the ideal time to write code (for me that’s night time), this time is good for writing a blog post, revising copy, or doing a proof of concept on a piece of code.  The danger of this time is that if I’m tired I’ll squander it reading Twitter, clearing my email inbox, or making a Spotify playlist.  The way I’ve found to make the best of this time is to organize my tasks and have a list to open up and start executing on.

My To Do App Of Choice

I’ve used a number of apps over the years for tracking ideas and personal To Do’s.  The list includes Basecamp, Things, Google Docs, Wunderlist, and the Reminders app.  My current go-to app is Trello.  I started using Trello when I was a WooThemes development collaborator and saw how well it did at organizing dozens of extensions and collaborators.  The main benefits for me of using Trello are:

  • It’s Free
  • Looks great on any device
  • Web based
  • Data is exportable

How I Use Trello

We have a grind and brew coffee maker.  I’ve found that my morning goes infinitely better when I take the time the night before to clean it out, fill the reservoir with water, and put in the beans.  That way in my bleary-eyed morning state all I have to do is press the go button and in a few minutes I’ll have coffee.  In a similar way I ‘prep’ my Trello lists at the beginning of the month, and again at the beginning of the week.

I have these lists defined:

  • In Development – Extensions currently in development
  • Writing – Blog post ideas and drafts
  • Inbox – Non categorized ideas, tasks, blog post ideas
  • Grow Development – GrowDev business or marketing tasks
  • Live – Cards for extensions go here when they are shipped
  • Ideas – List of random ideas for extensions
  • Side Project 1 – This project isn’t public knowledge yet
  • Side Project 2 – This project isn’t public knowledge yet

The two most important lists are the “In Development” and “Writing”.  When I wake up and sit down at the computer I open Trello and pick the top item from one of these two lists and work on it.  Then I can record my progress on the card, add to an in-card checklist, or mark the card as complete.  This way I know that what I’m spending this precious time on directly impacts my goals.  If these two lists become empty, then it’s time to brainstorm two ideas.  I spent about two hours yesterday filling the lists with about six weeks worth of work.

I’m looking forward to a productive 2013 and am very excited about this new system of organizing my work time.


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