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  • Writer's pictureSean Forgatch

Productivity for a Data Engineering Consultant

I really enjoy a structured day, that is most likely due to the amount of structure that was missing from my earlier days. I want to share with you how I'm able to stay productive and manage expectations.

First, I will walk you through the strategy of productivity I follow on a weekly basis, and the methodology of implementing that practice.


The strategy is a variation from David Allen's The Art of Stress-free Productivity as well as the things I learned under the mentor-ship of Dave DuVarney(President and co-founder of Talavant consulting). Watch the Ted Talk here.

General Concept

  • Record everything that requires time.

  • Keep it simple, this needs to increase productivity, not decrease it.


  • Collect - As soon as something arises either by email or something that pops into your mind put it in a list. This can include a task, research, or anything that requires attention and time. This also includes both personal and professional activities, it is up to if you want two collection lists. It will require more time and attention two attend to both, I just use one.This allows us more room to think when we know everything we need to do is in an organized list.

  • Process - As things occur, modify your lists based on their status, and rather or not they still hold enough value to devote time to. Based on the 5 boards below, move tasks to their appropriate position.

  • Plan- On a weekly basis once a week, take an hour out of your day(I go to a coffee shop at 6am on Saturday to do my weekly planning and budgeting) to move items from your Backlog and into your Ready list. Archive your completed items from last week. Schedule your week on your Outlook calendar and stick to it. This requires discipline. Once you get as busy of having to manage multiple clients\projects, and having to manage travel as well as keeping up with research, it becomes extremely difficult to stay on top of things and will require such discipline.

  • Do - If we learned anything from Nike, it's Just Do It!Get it done, no slacking!

Implementing the Methodology

Lists - Trello Kanban Board setup as:

  • Backlog - This is where all of our ideas and tasks go as soon as they arise.

  • Ready - We populate this list once a week for the things we're going to work in the coming week.

  • In-progress - Things we're currently working on.

  • Waiting - Things waiting on a 3rd party out of our control.

  • Done - Things done, don't archive this until your weekly planning meeting, it's good to see your accomplishments!

*Example board

Calendar - Microsoft Outlook


  • Big Rocks - Schedule all big meetings, reoccurring activities(ie. Gym, Stand-ups, etc.), and immediate meetings.

  • Little Rocks - Here we can schedule time blocks to work on items from our backlog.

Rule 1: If it takes up time, it goes on the calendar.

Rule 2: Integrate work and personal into your calendar(to an extent) I tend to not plan my weekends on my calendar apart from Saturday morning when I do my planning and spend a little time working.

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