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Defining Tasks and Next Steps: A productivity approach that changed my week

This week I want to share a productivity tip/realisation that was a huge help this week. I’ve had a l
Defining Tasks and Next Steps: A productivity approach that changed my week
By Chris Lovejoy • Issue #11 • View online
This week I want to share a productivity tip/realisation that was a huge help this week.
I’ve had a lot on over the last few months which has meant my ‘to-do list’ hasn’t been moving as quickly as it usually does.
My traditional approach to creating my to-do list has been fairly lax with how I describe the tasks. For example, I had “tidy up and submit 4x AI papers” as one item on the list. My rationale has been that as long as the task is on the list, I’ll be able to remember to do it.
But I realised recently, when I’m spending last time working through my to-do list, this can be prohibitive: with the detail less at the front of my mind, I find it harder to recall what subcomponents constitute each task.
For example, when looking at the task “tidy and submit 4x AI papers”, I had to recall which papers there were and review the current state of each paper.
This week, while struggling with this, I remembered something I had read a few years back in Getting Things Done and decided to re-structure the to-do list.
I converted each point into the next step required. The “tidy and submit 4x AI papers” become:
  • Format references to [paper 1] and submit to [journal].
  • Re-draft [paper 2] as per comments in Word Doc and send to [co-author] for review
  • Find person interested in X to help finalise [paper 3], ready for submission
  • etc
The simple act of describing what the next step was made everything feel much more manageable. Over the rest of the week, I dipped in and out of the to-do list as time allowed, and as a result of the re-structuring feel I was able to get far more done.
There’s still a lot left on my to-do list, but I feel much more confident that at any point in the future, having the tasks more clearly defined will make it easier to dip in and out of the list as time enables.

Productivity Videos
I’m currently in the process of editing and sharing a video series on productivity and my pipeline for studying.
After dividing up my task of ‘edit productivity videos’ into manageable chunks 😛, I was able to edit and share the first two videos of the series. If interested, you can see them here:
Understanding vs Memorising | Productivity and Study Tips #1
The Question-Driven Approach | Productivity and Study Tips #2
My friend Ali Abdaal kindly let me record the series at his house using his camera and studio, so this videos have the highest production value of any on my channel so far. Something for me to aspire to. Thanks Ali!
I hope you all have a fantastic week,
Chris
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Chris Lovejoy

Hi! I'm Chris, a Cambridge medicine graduate now working as a doctor in London and exploring a career applying machine learning to medicine. Every weekend I send out an email sharing my experiences, life lessons as I learn them, and links to my favourite things on the internet.

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