A note app is all I needed to be productive.

Jun 4, 2022
It was the year 2020, and I was searching ways to boost my work productivity. I subscribed to couple of news letters, following some authors in this domain. As a result, I read every story that appears in my feed. There were several dozens of them.
Being a developer is a mentally demanding job that necessitates many soft and hard skills as well as a specific set of personal traits in order to work productively and avoid burnout. That was my need a few years ago: to make the most of my day, avoid task overload, and eventually not work over weekends to compensate ๐Ÿ™….
As a result, I read every article that appears in my newsfeed. I used to take notes on everything and then try to apply what I learned to my work. It wasn't working as expected, but I convinced myself that I was doing something wrong and that I should try harder the next time. This went on for quite some time.
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Each article is outstanding and interesting in its own right. Those "[30/10/45/***] productivity tips at work" were, however, a little overwhelming and did not work for me. The reason for this is that I felt there were far too many tips, no clear benchmark to see if you are in right path, and there is always "Another study by [VERY famous institute] on how to work better" to break your flow and distract you.
While reading one of such articles, I came across a practice called "Work Logging". Work Logging is a simple notion that entails keeping note of everything that happens at your work every day.
You must ask, what is the need of a work logger. There are definite benefits and i might not know all but following are the pros from my end
  1. Helps you to give a detailed self review during appraisal cycle ๐Ÿ’ฐ
  1. You have a better answer to such questions like,
    1. Where did most of your time went last week ? ๐Ÿค”
    2. I wish you would have done this faster, what caused the delay ? ๐Ÿคจ
    3. What are the blockers you had last week? ๐Ÿค”
    4. Do you have any suggestions for the Design/Product teams ? ๐Ÿซก
  1. Helps in self-evaluation ๐ŸŽฏ
  1. And finally, it gives you a sense of ownership and loads of motivation โค๏ธ
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Hence It felt a lot easier for me to log work than it did to follow dozens of tips. So, I began with one app/tool (which I will list at the end), worked on it for a while, and then moved on to another if it was not a good fit. So, after two years of these iterations, I ended up with a simple note app ๐Ÿ˜Œ.

This is how my daily work logger template looks.

When empty
When empty

And when it's filled, this is it.

When Filled
When Filled

This template is ineffective itself unless combined with some, say, tips rules
  1. Day is divided into multiple slots, Every slot is a 50 mins pomodoro ๐Ÿ… and 10 mins break
  1. Make sure to have at-least 7 and at max 9 such SLOTS.
  1. I try to keep meetings around 50 minutes. ๐Ÿ—“
  1. Have four focus zones (๐Ÿง˜) in which no diversions are allowed.
  1. I take a one-hour lunch break, including a 20-minute power nap (before food). ๐Ÿฑย + ๐Ÿ˜ด
  1. By the end of today, I have a plan for tomorrow. ๐ŸŒ†
  1. Finally, I freely convey my day plan/availability to my colleagues. ๐Ÿ“ฃ
The tools I've used that I believe are way over the top for my use case are listed below-
  1. SpreadSheets - Flexible and free, however, I wasn't a fan of the cell-based UI and formatting to make it look like a logger.
  1. Trello - A simple task management tool, but I didn't feel like I had the flexibility of a working logger in it, and the other features were a distraction to me. Perhaps it was not intended to be used in this manner. But I'd been a fan of Trello for a long time and couldn't resist the urge to try it out.
  1. NotePlan is a fantastic app. It has everything I need, including tasks, a calendar, tags, and links to other notes in the app. I was content with it for a long time till I realised I was paying $10-11 per month on Setapp solely for this. As a result, I had no choice but to let it go.
  1. I finally settled with Apple Notes, which I've been using for quite some time. It isn't as feature-rich as NotePlan, but it is straightforward and simplistic, this is just what I needed.
There's also Notion, a fantastic application. I'm happy to stay with apple notes for a while longer. But, if you're just getting started, consider Notion.
Thanks for reading till here โค๏ธ. I have made the same template in notion. Please get it here

Older Version ๐Ÿ“ฆ

โš ๏ธ Still in beta. Report ๐Ÿž's here