It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything: a lot has happened in the past year that took my attention away. As 2020’s end approaches, it’s time to start taking a focused look into the upcoming months.
If there’s one thing we learned in 2020 is that plans are easily ruined by factors we cannot control and that adaptation is key. So, why plan anything at all? The truth is: if we have no goals or plans, it’s easy enough to feel lost when things don’t work as we want them to. Whereas having plans , and including the flexibility to adapt to life happening by itself is one of the best motivation factors I can have. Feeling like I am in control of what I do, where I spend my time and where (in general terms) my life is going makes me feel like I am at peace, helps me sleep well and gives me the focus I need to accomplish things (big or small).
Look back: 2020, the strangest year I can remember
2020 started amazingly: I went to India to spend the winter and had some holidays planned out while in India and to Nepal. We also had some cool new friends and a LOT of travel planned . I was in the organizing team of WordCamp Europe 2020 (scheduled to June in Porto, Portugal) and was highly excited to contribute to the community there! We also had some festivals lined up for the summer so it was lining up to be an awesome year!
The first two months we lived in the Indian winter (more like a summer for us), traveling to Kerala in the south, traveled a week to the North (agra, jaipur, varanasi) and Nepal (Kathmandu, Pokhara, ..). We also attended the HillTop Festival in Goa 🙂 It was pretty cool, if it wasn’t for the fact that while in our Nepal trip, Corona was already spreading out to the world, and we started seeing some travels being cancelled , etc..
When we traveled back home (mid march) quarantine was being put in place in Portugal. Although our travel time was perfect, the following months started the chaos we now know it would affect the whole year. No more travel, no more festivals, no gatherings of friends, etc… , not to mention the sadness and confusion all around. From our end, we were immensely grateful to have moved from the city to the country side in 2019. While we still had some restrictions they were lighter and didn’t feel as restrictive as they could. Leaving near the beach also meant we could enjoy the summer, even if in smaller groups and with lesser parties then we would’ve otherwise.
2020: the year online became an active part of our lives
On the other hand, since many people decided to move their projects, classes, etc.., online it meant some busy work months. We also saw boom in technologies that have been otherwise seen as techy or geeky or for the “business people”.
Confession time: because people who spend their lives in front of a computer are usually regarded as people not in touch with their own nature I sometimes felt conscious when telling that I worked in a tech job. I heard the phrase “No one came to this world to spend their time in front of a computer” many times before! To be fully honest: I still do.
But this year taught me that I won’t likely ever stop working in computers 100%.
I like how they enabled people to find alternate ways of spreading their word and their businesses. I appreciate how they they empowered people to stay connected. And I love that I can be a part of that!
Towards Q4 I decided enrolled in a program we have at Automattic for employees who want to become full time developers. The whole quarter was focused on preparing and the application process. After a month or so of hard work in a coding project I finally made it!
2021 is coming – what now?
It’s crazy to make plans when we have no idea what’s coming. 2021 won’t be the year when we all go back to living our lives as used to before. Not yet and definitely not from the beginning. While I realized this some months ago, I decided I didn’t want to be just waiting for things to happen. Any sort of planning and goal setting was better than nothing.
Part of my focus for 2021 will be this new (temporary) position in January and all the learning invovled. So – that easily set the work focus for me. As for life, family, holidays, relationships- I want to at least feel that I have some control. That I am acting instead of reacting to time and events.
I decided to write this post to make myself accountable! I also want to share some planning tips and resources that I think might be helpful for folks!
Planning: what is it and how to start?
Planning and goal setting are essential – to me – to feel like I own my life and it’s course. I am a huge fan of the Getting Things Done methodology (see videos below). I also have finally found a way to have all the things (goals, tasks, etc..) in one single place.
Methodology: Getting Things Done
If you’re not familiar with GTD here are a couple of great videos from David Allen – the creator – explaining what it’s all about:
Although I had the electronic version already, this year i decided to purchase the physical book (in portuguese though):
Apart from this, I really enjoy Megan Minns video on how to do a planning session for the year, break it into quarters, etc.. It’s simple enough, has a free workbook we can download and definitely feels like something attainable by everyone , independent on how you manage your tasks, time, etc.., and the sort of life you have:
Tools: the analogue way
While most my time is spent in a computer and I need to have most things digital and accessible from anywhere at any time, there’s still no comparison – for me – to sitting in a coffee place or just in a terrace with a piece of paper and a pen and drawing / mapping my goals and tasks. Again: just a paper and a pen or pencil are enough here!
Of course, I use some extra things like a paper planner and a moleskine notebooks that i usually walk around with, but these are mostly dependent on you. Here are the ones I am using for 2021:
As an alternative to digital , here is a full paper based productivity system that I used a couple of year ago and was pretty cool (not GTD though):
Tools: Productivity And Task Management app ClickUp
After things are planned on paper (literally) I move them to my task management system. This is the one I also use as my Inbox to gather thoughts, ideas, tasks, etc…
ClickUp has been a major factor of feeling I am in control of what’s happening and what’s coming. You can use the free version and it’s fully packed with every different productivity functionality you can think of.
Here are a couple of videos showing info on the tool:
Both the web and desktop versions of Clickup are awesome! Their new mobile apps are looking great (just launched) but are still missing some key features. The roadmap is pretty cool and they’re definitely investing in making the new apps match the features of their web version. The only caveat I have yet with ClickUp is the lack of a Firefox extension. They have a Chrome one but I prefer Firefox myself and not having a way to quickly turn links or emails into tasks has been a major issue for me in the past months. Let me know if you’d like tips on how to use Clickup as a full system. Just comment below and I’ll be happy to do a full ClickUp overview post.
Apart from ClickUp, Google Calendar is where I manage all the appointments and events . Evernote is where larger pieces of information or just web clips end up though (still a Work In Progress).
This is it! If you’d like to learn more – do subscribe to my news:
Let me know in the comments below if you have any other productivity tips or systems you’re using! I am productivity junkie and the more I know the merrier 🙂