I've recently been reading Tim Feriss' Four-Hour Work Week which mentions Paretto's Law as one of Tim's core principles. The idea that you can apply to the 80/20 rule to pretty much most things.
For example, only 20% of your customers provide 80% of the profit at the very least. Often times it's much more than that. With this powerful knowledge we can decide which customers we spend the most time on and which customers we treat with a light touch (since they provide minimal benefit). This got me thinking about concentrating my own efforts and making sure my workflow too is giving the 80% benefit with only 20% effort.
In a quest to become more efficient with my time I've been searching for ways in which I can keep on top of tasks whilst optimising my time and minimising waste. I really love the concept of Omnifocus and the Getting Things Done (GTD) philosophy and Omnifocus fits that perfectly. However, the big problem with Omnifocus and GTD is that you can be easily swamped by too many things to do and a consequence a lack of productivity as you switch from one task to another, or become a victim of analysis paralysis.
As well as GTD, I've been really impressed by the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique invented by Francesco Cirillo emphasises that people are great at concentrating on tasks for a short burst of time, traditionally for 25-30 minutes. In this short time you concentrate on one task and one task only. This time is called a “pomodoro.”
At the end of each pomodoro you take a 5 minute break, whether that's to grab a drink or take a toilet break. The idea that every person can be effective every hour of every day is a myth. It just doesn't happen.
With pomodoro you set yourself a limit to the number of pomodoro's you believe you can complete each day. This is traditionally anywhere between 10-12 pomodoro's. Before you know how much you can complete though, you start by tracking your time. You might be fairly shocked to find out that you're actually nowhere near as effective as you thought you were and a lot of time is wasted on activities that provide no tangible benefit. Like looking at funny cat gifs.
Curse you internet!
Bringing Together Two Worlds
What inspired this blog post is when I stumbled upon Pomello App, a tool that would allow me to bring together the worlds of GTD and Pomodoro in one beautiful union. Pomello app allows you to track the number of Pomodoro's it takes to complete a task on your Trello board.
The glue that's missing is the ability to copy tasks from Trello directly into your Omnifocus app.
This is where IFTTT (IF This Then That) fits in. Similar to it's rival service Zapier, IFTTT provides recipes that allow you to link two services together using trigger events. For example, in our case, we want to use a recipe that states:
“If A Card is Created on my Trello board Then Send a Task to Omnifocus via my Omnifocus Inbox”
I've created my own recipe that creates a task in my Omnifocus inbox when I create a card on my Trello board.
The Ultimate Workflow
Breaking it all down here's what I do to set this all up:
- Sign-up for a Trello account
- Create a board
- Add a list to that board
- Purchase a copy of Omnifocus
- Sign-in to manage your Omni Sync Server account
- Under “Mail Drop to Inbox“ section click “Add an Address”
- Copy the maildrop email address (which should look like *@sync.omnigroup.com*)
- Sign-up for IFTTT
- Login to your account
- Use my IFTTT to Omnifocus recipe
- Link the recipe to your Trello account and select an appropriate board/list
- Paste into the Omnifocus Drop Server email address your *@sync.omnigroup.com* address
- Get the Pomello App for Chrome
- Open Pomello and log into your Trello account
- Open your Trello Board
- Add a card to the list you setup in IFTTT
- Wait a moment for the email to be sent to Omnifocus
- Open Omnifocus and click “Sync”
You should now see your Trello task in Omnifocus so you know what tasks you need to do!
Putting it in Action
Now that the task is in Omnifocus, we can start using the Pomello app in Trello.
To use Pomello simply look at your Trello board. Since Pomello is a Chrome plug-in it will show in your applications. Select the card that you rasied and click “DO IT” to start a 25-minute pomodoro session.
Having fought for years to try and find a workflow where I can get the balance and focus right between productivity (feeling like I've actually accomplished something that day), I'm certainly finding that this workflow is one step closer to that vision and the ultimate workflow nerd-utopia.
Have a try yourself and let me know what you think!?
What workflow are you using right now?