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Productivity 2: my turfgrass information workflow

Productivity 1: what's my workflow?

TeachingEarlier this year during the Asian Turfgrass Roadshow, Dr. John Kaminski and I led seminars in six countries over the span of just ten days, and in our free time – mostly on airplanes, I recall – we discussed productivity and what our workflows are, or systems are, to get things done. 

If I list out all the things I do, writing, teaching, researching, studying, traveling – it comes to be a rather extensive list. Dr. Kaminski encouraged me to write about my workflow, how I organize my time, and what tools I use to maximize my efficiency, suggesting that both the identification of the need for a workflow, and then an exposition of what works for me, may be informative for turfgrass managers.

In this post I'll explain why I need to have an effective workflow, and in the next I'll share some of the tools and techniques that I use.

Research_work
As Chief Scientist at the Asian Turfgrass Center, my work involves turfgrass information. Getting new information by original research, or studying the results of research by others, and then sharing that information by writing, or teaching, or directly advising – that's what I do. In 2011, some of the things I did include:

  • wrote 14 magazine articles
  • made 35 presentations at conferences, meetings, and universities (those presentations were in 7 countries on 3 continents)
  • wrote 60 new posts for this site, and 10 for Turf Diseases
  • made more than 20 charts showing climatological data
  • collected data from 220 putting greens in 6 countries as part of a research project to characterize playing performance 
  • traveled to 15 countries in total, flying 94 times, almost all international flights, an average of one flight every 3.9 days

Plane_ticketsIt is that flying and travel that really makes it difficult to keep track of what needs done, what has been done, what I'm working on – in short, for me to keep up with turfgrass information, I need to have a functional workflow. 

I need to make sure that I keep up with my own research projects, that I don't miss new developments in turfgrass science from around the world, that I can meet deadlines for magazine editors and conference organizers, all while collecting enough boarding passes that I can completely cover my desk with them every year. And, in the case, for example, of the climatological data and associated charts, I had to learn how to use some new software in order to present the data as I wanted to.

So what is my workflow to keep track of all this, and keep producing new work, all while feeling relatively little stress, and being confident that I am spending my time efficiently? I'll explain my simple system in the next post. You'll learn that it involves:

  • two notebooks
  • Google Reader
  • judicious use of Twitter
  • occasional use of Evernote
  • one list of work to do, which I review and update once a week

Do you have a similar system? This works great for me, and while everyone will necessarily have a different workflow, it is interesting to think about effective workflows for the most efficient use of one's time.

Climate_charts

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