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Josh Ellis
Josh Ellis

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Why I'm Building A Productivity App

Personal productivity is something I’ve always struggled with. Whether keeping up with chores or shipping a side hustle, I’ve struggled to find a system that suits me.

Over the years, I’ve tried many of the catchy systems, but none of them stuck for one reason or another.

🤩️ This 'just do three' productivity system changed my life

A few months ago, I came across the idea of capping your todo list at three items per day. I decided to give it a shot.

To make it a system, I choose three things I want to do in a few timescales:

  • Long-Term (longer than a year)
  • Year
  • Quarter
  • Month
  • Day

The goals of each timescale expand and get more specific as you work your way down. I like to write in past-tense ’story’ form such that a story (aka task) when the statement is true, it's ready to check off.

To give you a sense of how it works, here’s what one cascading set of stories looks like:

  • Long-Term: I accepted a role as a full time, remote senior front end developer at a company that I respect.
  • Year: I accepted a role as a full-time front end developer at a company that I respect.
  • Quarter: I finished Flatiron School.
  • Month: I shipped my final project.
  • Day: I wrote the blog post for my final project.

Hopefully you can imagine having three different stories at each level. I personally tend to have the three relate to some combination of career (above), personal (ex: 'I vacationed in Paris'), and health (ex: 'I ran a marathon').

However, it's flexible -- the lower-level stories don’t always have to line up with the bigger ones. For example, I don’t have high-level stories related to doing laundry, but some days, 'I did laundry' is on the list.

Since starting to use the system, I've felt more motivated, productive, and accomplished than ever. It's helped me finish many projects that I would have otherwise abandoned.

🤔️ ...But the system is kinda weird

I love the system, but trying to fit it into existing productivity apps is pretty difficult. This is because the existing apps are usually geared towards either GTD or Agile. (Or they're niche like what I'm building 🤷🏻‍♂️)

The main feature I'd like is the ability to see all the current timescales in the same place. Additionally, I’m able to do things like set three stories per day as a hard limit and auto-generate each blank list.

I’ve been making it work in Things 3, but it's gotten to the point where I need to build something for myself, so here we go.

👨🏻‍💻 Let’s get technical

I’ll be back in a week to talk more about the development process, starting with How I Set Up Drag and Drop in React.

Thanks for reading! I'll see you in a week.

💬️ What about you?

  • Have you tried the 'just do three' method or something similar?
  • What personal productivity system are you working with?
  • What advice do you have for building such a project like this?

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