Organizing work & handling interruptions

A long time ago, I worked in a complete chaos.

  • Every petition was important and had to be done ASAP, even if the person that made the request didn’t work in my team.
  • The same thing with every incoming email.
  • I had information about an issue distributed in e-mails, paper and excel or text files.
  • I had more windows opened that I could manage.
  • I had a folder named DROP where I copied and pasted all the files that I used the previous month, to free my desktop and at the same time don’t loose that info. And of course, the DROP folder of the former month…Yeah, my DROP folder was recursive (*is ashamed in Spanish*).


But fortunately, I have learned from my mistakes, and I have searched for ways to organize my work.


It’s not worth to use paper to gather tasks information for many reasons: I type faster than writing by hand, it’s more eco-friendly to use text files and Ctrl + f works like a charm to find things. I would only use paper in meetings (if I don’t have a laptop) or if I would need to draw something in order to comprehend a concept.

To-Do lists

I normally use a set of To-Do lists, and recently I’ve started to use the useful plugin Plain Tasks for Sublime Text Editor:

Weekly list

All the things that have to be done along the week, with constant revision. The tag @today indicates…well, you know.

I only felt satisfied when I completed all my tasks, and helped all my coworkers…but this expectation was beyond reality; and I felt frustrated. Hence, I proposed to myself to use these priority rules:

  • @critical: the tasks requested by my boss
  • @high: the tasks requested by my peers (lending a hand on something, or finishing a functionality that they have to use)
  • @low: any task requested by people outside my team (sending emails with information)

At first, I used the GTD rule “if you can do it in two minutes, jump on it and get it out of the way”, but I ended doing endless 2 minutes tasks (mostly emails) and less about critical job.

In case I needed to count how many hours I use in each task, I would use Toggl.

Monthly list

All the things I have to do in the same month

Year list

To record all the tasks that I’ve made through the year. Looking at them makes me feel kind of great (n_n)

Ideas list

When I interrupt myself with ideas for other projects…I use this list to register this things and resume with the task that I was with

Dump list

It’s not a list…but it helps with the information that your head was managing.

Something that you can learn in this -recommended- course is that our brain in focused mode can only handle a few concepts at once. For this reason, if you are thinking how to code some function and someone asks you a question about something else, you will lost that information and have to start from the beginning.

What bring us to…

My workflow to handling interruptions

It is not an infallible method, but it is very helpful to reduce the switching time cost.