Jean-Charles Samuelian
Co-founder & CEO @ Alan
2 juinGuide Pratique

My personal self-organization guide

On May 20th, I shared internally a small document that explained how I manage my notifications. Funny coincidence, two days after that, Jean de la Rochebrochard pinged me on Twitter to learn more about my work organization.

I felt these tips could be potentially interesting to a wider audience and therefore decided to share the internal document on our blog.

Adopting effective work routines is all the more relevant in the context of Covid-19. As we previously detailed in this blogpost, when you work from home, you need to be particularly effective and organized to not become overwhelmed and to keep safe boundaries between your professional and personal life.

Taking some time to think about my personal organization really made a difference for me, and I can only invite you to do the same.

Please feel free to comment, share, and give feedback. I’d love to hear how you organize yourselves.

Self Orga Unsplash: jeshoots.com

Jean-Charles self-organization

This article is about how I manage my notifications and my weekly organization.

I receive a lot of pings and the risk is to become overwhelmed by too many notifications coming from too many sources. If you don’t manage them well, it can reduce your impact.

I have tested several solutions before finding the organization that makes me the most in control, with the greatest peace of mind.

General Principles

1. Notifications in the least places: I’m trying to have my notifications in as few places as possible. I have selected my email inbox and Slack and I don’t check notifications anywhere else.

2. A to-do tool where it is very simple to add and move items.

  • I use a well-organised TODOIST because having a list of notifications is overwhelming.
  • I use the TODOIST + Alfred integration for my To-Do. I find it really amazing.

3. A very structured calendar to have time for unstructured thinking.

  • No meeting in the morning with focus time on deep topics.
  • Dedicated time where I check my emails, slack, and contribute to issues (otherwise those tools are closed).
  • My interviews and discussions happen in the afternoon.
  • Before lockdown, I was trying to have lunch with the team every day.
JC calendar Example of a standard week before the afternoon meetings

Tips to manage your notifications

As explained above, I have selected my slack and email inbox as the only source of notifications. I don’t check notifications anywhere else.

How do I manage Slack notifications?

  • I decided to remove badges, and all notifications.
  • I check Slack twice or three times a day (I have time scheduled in my calendar).
  • If I can't reply in a few minutes, I copy the link of the message from Slack and add it to my todo list.

How do I manage my inbox notifications?

Principles

  • I check my inbox notifications twice or three times a day
  • When I do, I successfully:
  1. Open the notifications emails (in the folder Notifications, that I describe below).
  2. Add it to my to-do to the day I want to work on it (or do nothing if no action needed) thanks to Alfred and TODOIst at a selected date.
  3. Unsubscribe (especially for GitHub and/or Trello), so I don’t get pinged anymore. However, if I am pinged again in the issue with my GitHub or Trello handle I receive a new notification.
  4. Delete the email.
  • I will then work on it when it is the right time (and now my mind is free).

Video of how I do it: Video selforga

How I organize my notifications emails?

All my Trello, Notion, Github, Calendar notifications are in my inbox, meaning I had to put in place filters and labels to manage all these notifications.

How to create labels?

Creating a label like 0. Notification is really easy:

  • Click on Settings (top-right) > Settings > Labels > Create New Label.
  • I selected “show if unread” for “show in label list”.
  • I selected “show in the message list”.
Selg orga image 3
  • I moved the label to the top (under bin, you cannot put it higher)
  • Then, I added a label color (clicking on the label on the left)
Self orga Image 4

Video of how I do it: https://recordit.co/EFNNRIIuI6

How to create filters?

Filters to create: from(), Skip inbox, Add label 0. Notification

  • GitHub: notifications@github.com
  • Google Docs: comments-noreply@docs.google.com and drive-shares-noreply@google.com
  • Notion: notify@mail.notion.so
  • Hubspot: noreply@hubspot.com
  • Trello: do-not-reply@trello.com & invitation-do-not-reply@trello.com
  • Lattice: notifications@mg.latticehq.com

Tips to organize your To-Do list

I use TODOIST.com to keep track of the different tasks I have to do.

I also always have a GDoc open to keep track of what I achieve. When I complete a task in my todo, I spend 30 seconds adding it to the GDoc (and I try to explain what I did so it is useful to the team).

My routine

I use TODOIST.com as my todo application manager and have the following routine:

  1. Every morning, I check the list of tasks of the day and rank them by priority and how I want to do them: the first task on top, the second task after.
  • I check my meetings of the day to see if it fits the need.
  • I have always in my calendar time that is blocked for my work (“no meeting”).
  1. Every evening, I check what I have finished or not from the day, and I either re-allocate to another day the tasks I have not done, either change ownership of them or cancel them.
  2. Every Tuesday evening, I check:
  • My TODO for the next 7 days and I re-organize it. Here are some questions I ask myself: "Do I really want to do that this week?", "Should I postpone it to another week?", "Am I the right owner?", "How many tasks per day?". I also keep some room for new issues I might contribute to (starting on Thursday, a bit more on Friday, …).
  • My calendar for the next 7 days.
  • My OKRs to I check if I am not missing something.
  • From that, I prepare my next week priorities in my GDoc.

I don’t use the integration of Todoist and Google Calendar but it exists.

Conclusion

I can only confirm the importance of having a structured work organization and how it will multiply your impact.

Last, the most important thing is still to find the organization that suits you the best. Using external tips is great, but in the end, you should take some time to find out what tools and routines work the best for you.

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