How I hacked my life

I'm rubbish at remembering things. Seriously, I can be asked to do something in the morning and an hour later, I've totally forgotten what it was I agreed to. 

Then 2 days later I've remembered but it's usually too late by then! 

I've been looking at ways to try and fix this and also ways to help me be more productive and less disorganised.

Maybe some of these things that I've found that work for me will help you. 

Time keeping

When it comes to my working week, I'm lucky to work for a company where we have flexible working, but for this to work, I needed a way to accurately track my time. Its all too easy to think you've done your daily hours but in actual fact you've done extra / less. 

What I mean is, I'd start at 8:30am, but it could be 8:25am, then I'd go for lunch, maybe be back at at my desk after 55 mins, then I'd finish at 5:35pm. In my head I'd have done my day, my 7.5 hours, but in actual fact I've done 15 mins extra on that day. If I did this for 4 days, that's an extra hour. 

I could write down my times, then do the maths to work out how much time I've worked but instead I use a Timeular tracker device. I can tip the tracker when I start my day, whether that's 8:29am or 8:35am and then I have different sides setup for different tasks. I can then see how my time keeping is going and whether I am up or down on my hours for each day / week. Super simple and all the calculations are done for me!

Todo tasks

I've tried to write down tasks on paper, I've tried to putting notes on my desk, on my fridge, but I always forgot about them or I stick with it for a few days and then stop, however, I've recently found a way that works for me. I've started using Google Assistant on my phone. 

I can now say "Hey Google, add reminder....." 

I then add a reminder on my phone. I then get a ping on my phone at a specified time, either today, tomorrow or in a weeks time. It's simple, I always have my phone on me and it's quick to do. Perfect. The other nice thing is I don't need to open an app to check my list, my phone reminds me instead.

Keeping track of Pull Requests

With a large team of developers, we have a number of pull requests on a daily basis that need reviewed. For a while I found it hard to keep track of all the pull requests and also what code needed reviewed and what didn't. I found I was wasting time clicking a PR, reading it and then finding out it had been reviewed already and the code was actually now outdated and being fixed. 

We use Github for version control and pull requests but I find the website hard to track everything, especially when we have lots of projects in flight at the same time.

I needed a way of better visualising everything. By chance I found some really nice features in GitKraken Client which I just haven't spotted in the past! I'm a fan of GitKraken but I have to be honest, I don't use it to its full potential. 

That's when I started looking in to some of the features to find if any will help me with my time sinks. 

Focus View

"The Focus View displays all of your Pull Requests, Issues, and Works In Progress (WIPs) relevant to you for a selected filters. You have a search bar to filter the results and columns that represent different states of the PRs, Issues, and WIPs, and dropdown selectors for workspace-based filtering." - GitKraken Docs

This has been a game changer for me. I can see everything in a really easy to understand view. 

Hiding and Soloing

Sometimes when viewing a busy repo it can be confusing to see all the ins and outs. What branches might need merged or rebased. Hiding and Soloing really tidies things up. With a clean view, I can spend more time working on my code rather than trying to work out the spaghetti of branches.

Browser Extension

I do still need to go to though and since I'm fully bought in to the GitKraken eco-system, the GitKraken browser extension allows me to jump from straight in to the GK Client. I'm then back in my happy place where I know where everything is, again, saving me time. It might only be a minute or so at most, but it all adds up. 

Pomodoro and Loupedeck

To help with my focus on tasks, I use the Pomodoro technique, if you haven't heard of this before, you set a timer for 25mins and you focus on the task at hand for 25mins, you then take 5mins away from the task and repeat. Each 25mins is 1 pomodoro. After 4 Pomodoros you take a longer break 15mins / 30mins. 

I use but I have a Loupedeck with a hot key shortcut setup which starts a timer for me. But rather than take a longer break after 4 pomodoros, I tend to just wait until my lunch, but I then take an hour for lunch. 

I have a number of other shortcuts setup to save me time too, I have a Lorem Ipsum button, which just pastes 2 paragraphs of Lorem Ipsum in to anywhere I have my cursor. I have a shortcut for opening up VS Code, but it then creates a new markdown files for me automatically. Why is the helpful? Because I actually use Markdown files a lot, especially for blogs. I spin up a quick Markdown file, save it automatically to the Cloud and then I can pick it up off my phone for editing later. 

I have a button that takes me straight to the Umbraco Documentation too, it opens up a browser and takes me to the CMS docs

So, there you have it. All the things I've got setup to try and save me time and make me slightly more organised and productive. I hope some of them help you but I guess the key thing is, find what works for you, if you try something and it doesn't work, try something else. 



Published on : 22 March 2024