Being Fruitful in a Time of Transition: Organizing Your Productivity

Matt Stauffer

I recently moved from Florida to Chicago, and my physical location isn’t the only thing that changed; I transferred cities, regions, climates, jobs, workspace, and much more. Reader Ross Black suggested we write an article about being fruitful in a time of transition, and I thought I might write the article I wished I had read before my transition.

Ross’ email was full of great questions, and I’ll answer a few here, but I’d also love for anyone with ideas to chime in in the comments.

This is a three part series:

Working From a New/Temporary Environment

When you’re transitioning to a new environment, you’re lucky if you jump right into a ready-to-work environment. You’re more likely to have to find places to work on your own, whether it’s a coffee shop or a temporary office.

I’m a huge advocate of a healthy work/home separation, especially for people with families. Our first recourse is often working from home, which can be overwhelming with a house full of unpacked boxes–especially if your spouse is unpacking and cleaning while you’re sitting comfortably on your computer. Rather, I suggest finding a place away from the home and mark that as “the place where work gets done.”

If you’re someone who spends a modest amount of time on the computer (just a few hours a day), coffee shops are a great option for settling down to get a little bit of work done. Every day that passes makes me more and more convinced that Brian was right when he said You Need $200 Headphones.

If you spend more than a few hours a day on the computer, consider a Co-Working Space. I work from one every day, and it’s the only way I can work from a distance for my different responsibilities and still get my life in order–plus, I’m not about to lug an iMac (a desktop computer) into Starbucks.

Organizing Your Tasks

No matter where you’re working from, you’re going to need to get your projects, tasks, and emails in order. It might sound like I’m beating a dead horse, but this is the perfect time for implementing systems for email management and task management. First, this is the time where it’s most important for you to stay on top of what you have to do; and second, this might be a time where you have a little free space between responsibilities, which is the perfect time to get your life in order and prepare yourself to manage your new responsibility even better than before.

Just getting started with learning about these systems? Get Started with Task Management, or go a little more in depth and learn about the Getting Things Done system.

If you’re working from multiple contexts, this might be the time to consider moving your task lists into a syncing software-based solution. The old standbys are Things (Mac-only, and pretty costly), Omnifocus (Mac-only, and even more costly), and Remember the Milk (web-based, with free-ish apps.) However, there’s a free newcomer that’s available on every platform you can imagine: Wunderlist. Learning a little bit about GTD and getting your tasks, projects, and contexts organized can go a long way toward helping you stay productive and organized during this time.

Organizing Everything Else

This might also be the time to move your data into the cloud. Move your most important files into a free Dropbox account so you can access them anywhere you go; move or sync your calendars, contacts, and email to Google’s or Apple’s web-based systems.

Check back later this week for more tips on transitioning well!

(Thanks to Ross Black for the article suggestion)

By Matt Stauffer | Posted: Dec 19, 2011
Category: Miscellaneous, Time & Task Management | Permalink | Post a comment | Trackback URL.


  1. December 19, 2011, 10:12 am | Permalink

    really good post Matt, and not just because you said I was right about the headphones 😉

    i think getting the important stuff into the cloud is huge.

    • December 19, 2011, 11:01 am | Permalink

      Thanks so much Brian! 🙂 Yah–I love how transitions can be a catalyst for things we should’ve done in the first place.

  2. December 19, 2011, 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Great article Matt! I’m looking forward to reading more.

  3. December 20, 2011, 8:27 am | Permalink

    Good post, Mat. During my last major transition, I moved files into the cloud (dropbox and Google docs). Haven’t looked back since.


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