How I Organize My Work As a Solo Founder

Discover how I organize my work as a solo founder using systems that boost productivity, focus, maintain balance, and help me achieve mental clarity and consistent progress.

How I Organize My Work As a Solo Founder
Being truly organized feels great. It enables deep thinking and deep work. Image generated using AI

In this article, I want to describe how I organize my work as a solo founder. I will cover the main systems that help me stay on top, plan ahead, focus, execute, look back, and remember everything.

Introduction

I've always been passionate about personal organization and (sane) productivity. My deep interest in Knowledge Management has led me to build systems that bridge all the parts of my life and support everything I do, whether for work or leisure. I've been working on this for years, and I'm now at a point where I know I have a solid system that I can rely on.

I strongly believe that the killer combo for "success" is the combination of:

  • Periodic Reviews
  • Journaling
  • Knowledge Management
  • Zen Productivity
  • Time Blocking
  • Backlogs
  • Habits/Routines/Processes

The order is not relevant. Each element is as important as the others. It's the combination that makes the difference. As the saying goes, the whole is more valuable than the sum of its parts. In the rest of this article, I'll cover each of those, and will try to convince you that combining those is the key to help you get things done, efficiently, and consistently.

Here's a high-level overview:

How I Organize My Work As a Solo Founder - HL Overrview.png
High-level overview of my system

If you want to take the fast lane and reuse my system, then check out the Knowledge Worker Kit:

Knowledge Worker Kit and community (BETA)
Who is this for?You are a Knowledge Worker or Lifelong LearnerYou feel lost and overwhelmed by the pace of innovation, disorganized, or unproductiveYou want to be a top performer and stay ahead of the curveYou want to join a community of like-minded people you can exchange with, and learn fromYou want a solid system that scalesYou want to learn with the bestWhat is this?TL;DR: This is a private community accompanied by a detailed guide exploring many topics (e.g., Knowledge Work, Personal Organization, Learning, Time Management, Project Management, etc), sharing proven and scalable systems/guidance. The content will keep expanding over time, with courses, workshops, and more!The Knowledge Worker Kit is an evergreen project. You buy access once, and you get lifetime access to all the past and future content, courses, and events:Private communityDeep Dive Guide with guidance, templates, references, and resourcesCoursesKnowledge Management for Beginners course ($69.99)Obsidian Starter Course ($59.99)Workshops, meetups, knowledge-sharing sessions, invited talks, AMAs, etcStarter KitsObsidian Starter Kit ($24.99)...Evergreen ContentThe Knowledge Worker Kit is not a one-time thing. It’s a living project, and a community of practice. It will continue expanding over time, and the value you will get out of it will keep increasing. Day after day, week after week. Buy it once, and you will have access to all future content, courses, and events.Who is behind this?Hi, I’m Sébastien DuboisI’ve been passionate about Knowledge Management, Learning, Knowledge Work, Personal Organization, and Productivity for more than 20 years. As an author, entrepreneur, coach, and father of 3, I needed efficient and effective solutions to stay organized, focused, and productive. The Knowledge Worker Kit includes everything I know about these topics, and more!I have a proven track record of delivering at work, and with my side projects. I have worked as a software developer, team leader, project manager, IT architect, CTO, founder, coach, consultant, solopreneur, and more. I have also published 3 books, 300+ articles and newsletters, created courses, YouTube videos, digital products, and manage various communities. And I did it all with a busy life, a 9-5 job, and 3 kids.My personal system works and helps me learn quickly, achieve my goals consistently, with high quality standards, and without sacrificing my health and precious family time. And that’s why I want to share it with you: my system. Actually, my goal is not only to share my experience, but also to create a community of like-minded people, and help each other grow as much as possible.Tell me more...Being a Knowledge Worker today is much more challenging than it ever was. Getting started isn’t easy, and there are many traps to fall into. Spare yourself some time and benefit from my experience and battle-tested system. I’ll share everything I know with you: my approach, my systems, my routines, my templates, guidance, my courses, my starter kits, and more! My mission is to help you avoid the pitfalls of Knowledge Work and empower you through technology.After you finish exploring the guide, you’ll have:Clarity in your life and an obvious path forwardSolid habits, routines, and systemsClear ideas about how to “manage” your careerAn effective approach to learning new thingsSolid knowledge management and personal organization systemsKnowledge about how to organize, plan, control, and manage projects (large and small!)A toolkit to prioritize workA system to manage your tasks at scaleEffective means to focus your attention and manage your timeWork methods that will propel your career forwardWhat’s included?WARNING: The Knowledge Worker Kit is in BETA. The content will be added and expanded over time. If you buy access now, you’ll benefit from the lowest price. The product is already available so that I can find early adopters and get as much feedback as possible in order to make it great for everyone.If you buy access to the Knowledge Worker Kit, you’ll get lifetime access to:The guide, the templates, guidance, references, and resourcesThe private communityAll past, and future courses (e.g., the Knowledge Management for Beginners course, the Obsidian Starter Kit)All past, and future community events (meetups, workshops, knowledge-sharing sessions, invited talks, etc)Ask Me Anything (AMA) Q&As with meMy starter kits (e.g., the Obsidian Starter Kit)In addition, you’ll also get free access to all future content updates. Over time, I’ll continue expanding the kit with new ideas, techniques, systems, templates, and more!What’s in the guide?The guide is a Notion space that includes detailed explanations, guidance, deep dives into the systems I rely on daily, links, references, templates, and various resources that all Knowledge Workers should explore.You will get to explore the content at your own pace, and to focus on what is useful to you right now, as each section is actionable on its own.Importantly, the guide will keep growing. It’s an evergreen knowledge base. Over time, we will grow the content further, adding new guides, deeper explanations, videos, and more.It covers the following topics:01. Clarity: values, behaviors, goals, non-goals, priorities, and intentions02. Habits, routines, systems, processes and methods03. Career Management and Anticipation04. Learning05. Projects Knowledge Management and Journaling06. Projects Organization07. Planning and Prioritization08. Task Management09. Focus, Attention, Time Management and Action10. Personal Development11. Control: periodic reviews, progress tracking, course-adjustment12. Personal Organization13. WorkOverview of the main topics01. ClarityThis part explores key elements that help bring clarity to one’s life:NeedsValuesPrinciplesGoalsPrioritiesEach of those is important to know what matters, what has value, and what to focus on.02. Habits, routines, systems, processes and methodsThis part explores the base elements of productivity systems:Habits and routinesSystems, processes, and methodsThose are key to building an “effortless” life, requiring as little willpower/motivation as possible to make things happen.03. Career Management and AnticipationThis part focuses on career management: its importance, your responsibility, the mindset you need to acquire, and all the related ideas.04. LearningThis part shares ideas about how to…Learn how you best learnLearn more effectivelyExplore new topicsResearchFilter informationLeverage AI and LLMs…05. Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) and JournalingThis part explores how to collect, organize, and link all your knowledge and information. It explores the main concepts of PKM, note-taking, note-making, tools of the trade, and structures/tips to help you keep everything useful, manageable, and maintainable as your knowledge base grows.It also introduces journaling and how to approach it to support your whole life.06. Projects OrganizationThis part focuses on how to organize projects and their information in a way that enables you and your teams to make focused progress.It shares ideas about how to organize project information, how to document projects, how to organize backlogs, etc.07. Planning and PrioritizationThis part focuses on how to plan projects and tasks, how to deal with deadlines, and how to prioritize work using various methods.08. Task ManagementThis part focuses on task management for personal and professional projects. It explores ways to keep tasks under control, how to organize personal work, and how to make the link between your different backlogs and your day-to-day life.09. Focus, Attention, Time Management and ActionThis part focuses on how to make things happen every single day, regardless of whatever is going on in your life. It’s all about techniques, tips & tricks, and tools to help you better manage your time, focus, and attention in order to ACT.10. Personal DevelopmentThis part explores important aspects of Personal Development that can make a big difference in a Knowledge Worker’s life. A sane mind in a sane body.11. ControlThis part is dedicated to control. How to control your progress, your trajectory, your projects, etc. And also, how to adjust course when things don’t go as expected.12. Personal OrganizationThis part helps better organize yourself and your information. It shares “zen” techniques you can use to remain organized, independently of how much information you have to juggle with.13. WorkThis part is all about WORK. How to do the work, how to improve your attitude, your results, and your recognition. It also dives into how to better collaborate with others to achieve your goals and those of your company/group.

Systems Thinking

At the core of everything I'm going to describe is the concept of Systems thinking. Systems thinking is an approach to problem-solving that focuses on the idea that everything is interconnected. Rather than focusing on individual components in isolation, systems thinking emphasizes the relationships, patterns, and dynamics among parts within a whole. It's a holistic approach. It enables identifying leverage points: areas where a small shift can lead to significant improvements.

In practice, systems thinking involves mapping out the components of a system, identifying feedback loops, and understanding how different elements influence each other over time. By focusing on the broader context and long-term effects, systems thinking enables developing more sustainable, resilient, adaptive, and effective solutions.

To be functional, effective, and efficient as a whole, systems need to be designed. Unfortunately, many people fail to view many things as systems, and they fail to design theirs, letting those grow organically. This is often chaotic, and far from ideal.

To design systems, it's useful to think about:

  • Positive and negative feedback loops
    • Effects are exponentially magnified by feedback loops.
  • Virtuous circles
  • Bottlenecks
  • Patterns
  • How to reach and maintain equilibrium

Everything is cause and effect

This is not an article about Systems Thinking, so I'll leave it at that, but it's definitely a topic worth investing time into. Check out the following article if you want to learn more about the other systems I rely on.

Systems for health, intention, productivity, learning, knowledge, information management and control
How systems thinking can change your life

Keep in mind that what I'm discussing here is actually a carefully designed system.

Periodic Reviews

What are Periodic Reviews and why should you care?

Most of the people I know never take a minute to stop and think. They focus on doing and reacting. They don't take (enough) time to reflectthink, or plan. Don't be like them. You need to regularly take time to Meet with yourself.

Meeting with yourself
Meeting with yourself can profoundly impact your wellbeing, happiness and productivity. Don’t miss out on the opportunity!

Periodic Reviews are essential to make sure that you are moving in the right direction (i.e., towards your goals) and to adjust course if and when needed. The core idea is to focus on you, your goals, your priorities, and to work toward the future you want for yourself. It's all about physical health, mental health, happiness, life, self-alignment... and work. Of course, it first requires having enough clarity about your values, and goals.

Why You Should Perform Periodic Reviews for Productivity
Discover how to leverage periodic reviews to achieve your goals and get more out of your life

The idea is simple: I use Time blocking to reserve time at different intervals:

  • At the end of each day
  • At the end of each week
  • At the end of each month
  • At the end of each quarter
  • At the end of each year

I have actual calendar appointments and reminders defined for most of those. Periodic reviews set the rhythm for my work and life. Each periodic review is an opportunity for me to:

  • Look back: what went well, what didn't, why
  • Look forward and prioritize: what's next
  • Make sure I'm still on track
  • Adjust my goals and plans

At each time horizon (day, week, month, quarter, year), I take the opportunity I need to:

  • Think
  • Plan
  • Act
  • Review
  • Adapt

Don’t worry though. You don’t have to perform all of those. You can Start small, and expand from there if you feel like it. I recommend doing at least daily and weekly reviews.

Daily Reviews

Daily reviews should take 5-10 minutes at most. During those:

My goal is not to dwell on the past, but identify actions I could take in the future to make my days less overwhelming, more motivating, more productive, etc.

Daily reviews help me be more objective, stay on track, have clear immediate priorities, and avoid wondering "Where has my time gone?" at the end of the week.

Weekly reviews

At the end of each week, I also take time to look back, but this time, I focus on a longer period: the past week. I look back at what I have achieved, the problems I have faced, summarize my lessons learned and my progress, clear my inboxes, etc.

During weekly reviews, looking back helps me notice trends and recurring patterns. Again, I focus on continuous improvement.

Most importantly, I also use weekly reviews to make plans for the next week. I take a look at my goals for the month, ensure my priorities are still clear, and reserve time blocks for my most important work.

Generally speaking, those take ~15-60 minutes. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

Monthly, Quarterly and Yearly reviews

The more you zoom out, the more strategic periodic reviews are. But the base principle is the same for each: look back, observe, be real, adjust course, and plan ahead. The only difference is the potential impact of the decisions, and the amount of work it implies. Monthly reviews can make or break a project. Yearly reviews can change your life.

Decide what you want, and do not stop - DeveloPassion
Decide what you want, and do not stop - DeveloPassion

Taking review notes

Whenever I do one of my periodic reviews, I create a dedicated note in my Personal Knowledge Management system. I do this in Obsidian, my favorite Tool for Thought (more on this later). I take notes because I want to keep track of my progress and details about the whole process. It leaves me with deep insights about my own journey, the way I approach my work, the recurring issues I face, etc.

Those notes serve two purposes:

  • On one hand, they help me see trends and patterns more clearly
  • On the other, they act as a personal log that I can use for inspiration and for sharing the lessons learned

The structure I use is simplistic:

  • Goals: what I would like to achieve
  • Achievements: what I actually managed to do
  • Challenges: difficulties I've faced
  • Discoveries: wonders I've discovered, things that inspired me
  • Gratitude: what I'm grateful for

That's where journaling comes into the picture.

PS. The structure and templates I use are all part of my Obsidian Starter Kit, a system that is a 1:1 copy of my own.

Obsidian Starter Kit and community
Who is this for?You are just getting started with note-taking or you’ve recently switched to ObsidianYou wonder how to take smart notesYou want to know how to properly organize your notes and avoid creating an overwhelming messYou want a solid system that scalesYou wonder what Zettelkasten, the PARA method, and the Johnny decimal system areGetting started with Obsidian is not the hardest thing in the world, but it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out how to structure and organize your knowledge base. You have a busy life, and you don’t want to spend weeks or even months figuring out the “right” approach.What is this?I’ve been passionate about information, knowledge management, and PKM for more than 20 years. As an author, blogger, knowledge worker, and entrepreneur, I needed solutions to store and organize an enormous amount of information.Over the years, I’ve explored, used, and advocated many tools but have been using Obsidian extensively since 2020. With the Obsidian Starter Kit, I offer you the result of my own research and experimentation. It’s like a cheat code to jump straight to stress-free note-making.I’ve spent months refining and perfecting my Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) system, and have spent countless hours tweaking my system. I’ve published a few articles to share some ideas about this. My system combines the Zettelkasten approach, the PARA method, the Johnny decimal system, and other ideas to create a solid basis for my work as an author, blogger, and content creator.The Obsidian Starter Kit is a ready-made Obsidian vault that includes my recommended organization system and plugins, as well as example notes to help you get started. It also comes along with a user-friendly guide.What’s included?If you buy access to the Obsidian Starter Kit, you’ll get:The Obsidian vaultA comprehensive and solid structure with support for Journaling and ZettelkastenLeveraging the PARA method and the Johnny Decimal systemMany recommended plugins to boost productivity and automate actionsA clear system for Journaling, Meeting Notes, Periodic reviews, etcMany templates to improve consistency and productivityA powerful dashboardMaintenance notes (e.g., find duplicate and orphaned notes)Automation rulesMany examplesThe user guideLifetime access to the Personal Knowledge Management community for support and knowledge sharingIn addition, you’ll also get free access to all future updates. Over time, I’ll expand it step by step to include tutorials about the various aspects; from exploration/curation to summarization and reuse.What’s in the user guide?The user guide is a growing and evergreen knowledge base about how to take smart notes. It includes:Installation instructions.Details about the contents of the Obsidian Starter Kit (i.e., Obsidian vault structure, key design principles, included plugins, etc.)A clear overview of Obsidian and its core concepts (everything you should know and care about)Clear explanations about...The Zettelkasten methodAtomic notesProgressive summarizationThe PARA methodThe LIFT principleThe Johnny Decimal systemJournalingMaps of Content (MoCs)Periodic reviewsWhy and how to tag notesTemplatingThe Markdown syntaxWhy you need a single source of truth for everythingThe collector’s fallacyThe Inbox Zero principleHow to capture informationHow to capture quotesHow to capture information about persons of interestHow to extract knowledge from daily notesHow to save mental contextsObsidian tips and tricksWhat’s in the video course?The Obsidian Starter Course is a video course (~2h20) of content covering:Obsidian: installation, user interface, key features, plugins, automation, tips and tricks, etcThe Markdown syntaxYAML metadataPersonal Knowledge Management techniques and principles: the Johnny Decimal system, the PARA method (e.g., the Zettelkasten method, the LIFT principle, Atomic notes, Maps of Content, knowledge capture & extraction, etc)JournalingPeriodic reviewsTemplatesAutomationTask managementBest practices and recommendationsHands-on explanationsand more!Evergreen contentThe user guide of the Obsidian Starter Kit is expanding day after day, week after week. It will soon include:More theoryDetailed processes (e.g. when to take notes, how to use Zettelkasten in practice, daily notes, periodic reviews, ...)Additional how-to guidesMore tips and tricks...The Obsidian vault also evolves over time:The structure improvesNew templates are addedNew plugins are addedetcRefunds policyIf you’re not 100% satisfied, then just let me know, and I’ll issue a full refund. I’ll only ask you a single question: How can I improve the product?If you think about asking for a refund, then consider reaching out to me with your issues, questions, and remarks. I’m always available and happy to help. My goal is to help you succeed.Testimonials”Finally clickeđ how awesome @Obsidian is! Thanks to your excellent Obsidian Starter Kit!”— Cal Desmond-Pearson (@CalSocialHermit)“Off and running w/ @obsdmd. I’ve installed the app & have @dSebastien Starter Kit & my own fresh start Vault open. Learning from former & putting into practice w/ real content in latter. So far, so good”— Raymond D Sims (@rsims)“Great content - got me up to speed with what I was looking for fast ! Sébastien answered some questions by mail also which was much appreciated ! Thanks”— Sam Gonzales”As someone who has bounced around trying to find the right Knowledge tool, I’ve realized that many of my issues have been related to the complexity of the tools and the processes. The structure, design and explanations provided in the Obsidian Starter Kit have finally given me the foundation I’ve needed. 100% worth it”— Michael Aaron (via e-mail)“I absolutely love your kit and it has been so immensely helpful”— Ashwin Appiah (via e-mail)“Thanks for making the product. I’m making efforts to start using Obsidian more in my daily workflow and having a place to start makes the task much less daunting!”— Liam Weight (via Twitter DM)“I’m very new to PKM, but the Obsidian Starter Kit has been a tremendous help in getting me started”— Fredrik Nordström (via the PKM community Slack)“Sebastien’s Obsidian Starter Kit is a powerful tool for those looking to dive into the world of Obsidian without being overwhelmed. It’s a comprehensive solution that significantly shortens the learning curve, providing an impressively structured way to start capturing notes and facilitating daily journaling. The kit’s integration of automated tasks and pre-designed templates are a boon to beginners, alleviating the initial intimidation of starting from scratch. If you’re new to Obsidian and need a solid starting point, this starter kit comes highly recommended. It doesn’t just help you navigate Obsidian, but also empowers you to harness its full potential right from the get-go.”— Lubos KolouchFredrik (via the PKM community Slack)“Just to thank the work and content that allowed me to discover the background of a custom vault. It was a real boost for me and given the price, it was a real investment of time and learning.”— Trobrillant

Journaling

The second key element of my system is my journal. I have a daily note open on my computer all day long, every single day. It's not only a journal where I write about my life, my experiences and emotions. It's actually where I keep track of my plans, the tasks I want to work on, my achievements, my discoveries, and much more. Journaling helps me think, remember, reflect, and focus.

There's a lot more to journaling than what most people think... I've been journaling for a number of years, and it has helped me tremendously. It's one of the most valuable practices in my life. Instead of "Make your bed", I propose "Write your journal entry"

I keep my journal open all day long, and I keep adding notes while I'm working:

  • Things I should do (action)
  • Things I discovered (learning)
  • Things I think about (thinking)
  • Things I'm grateful for (gratitude)

The structure I use for my daily notes is simple, but effective:

  • Plan for today: My TODO list for the day
  • Notes of the day: Random notes, ongoing things, ideas, whatever
  • Done today: What I have achieved
  • Discovered today: What I have learned/explored
  • Interesting links: Cool stuff I have stumbled upon
  • Gratitude: What I'm grateful for

Whenever I'm in doubt about what I should be doing, I go back to my daily note. At the end of the week, during my weekly review, I go back to all those notes, and use those as input. What I call my journal is the combination of my daily notes, and periodic review notes.

Check out my articles about journaling:

journaling - Sébastien Dubois
Explore Knowledge Management, Lifelong Learning, Note Making, Personal Organization, and Zen Productivity

Knowledge Management

Managing Knowledge?! People barely manage their TODO lists and files..

Knowledge Management is at the heart of my life and work. It supports me in all the areas of my life. And it's also my biggest source of frustration, because I see so many people who would benefit, but have never even heard of it. And I intend to fix that. It's actually my main priority right now, and one of the reasons why I'm writing this piece.

Everything I'm discussing here is, at least in part, somewhere in my brain. But if I'm able to express these ideas clearly, it's not just because I care. It's also because I have a system that sits outside of my brain, that I can rely on. Tiago Forte calls that a second brain. I call that a Personal Knowledge Management System (PKMS). And there's an associated process: Personal Knowledge Management Process.

How I Organize My Work As a Solo Founder - pkm process overview.png
The Personal Knowledge Management process

Let's put all the theory aside. It's a topic I've already written a lot about, and I will continue to do so. Let me just give you the gist of it.

Personal Knowledge Management, helps me:

  • Capture, retain, retrieve useful and interesting information, at scale
  • Clearly express my thoughts, ideas, problems, etc
  • Better organize myself
  • Work smarter and be more productive
  • Make better and more informed decisions
  • Think deeply and introspect
  • Learn faster, and more efficiently
  • Create solid mental models
  • ...

Just take a look at my public notes. Those are just a subset of my personal knowledge graph: https://notes.dsebastien.net And there's a lot more I keep to myself:

How I Organize My Work As a Solo Founder - Knowledge Graph.png
My Personal Knowledge Graph

It's not just about fancy visuals. It's about creating leverage for myself. Thanks to this system, I have unlimited memory, perfect recall, and I am able to forget intentionally. In my Knowledge Management system, I have information about myself, my values, my why, my goals/priorities/projects/plans, my no-no's, my journal, my periodic reviews, my health, etc. It's my single source of truth.

How To Free Your Mind and Enhance Your Memory: Write To Forget, Not To Remember
Write more. Free your mind, and reduce cognitive load. Learn why writing to forget can help you remember what truly matters. Explore the benefits and techniques of building a personal knowledge base.

By the way, I've shared more details about my PKM system here:

Overview of my Personal Knowledge Management System
Discover my Personal Knowledge Management System and get some inspiration to design a robust one for yourself.

I'm so passionate about this topic that I'm actually about to release a course for beginners:

Knowledge Management for Beginners
Your ultimate video course to mastering Personal Knowledge Management (PKM)

Zen Productivity

Very ambitious people are generally driven by results. They always try to do more. To the point of being labeled as workaholics. That implies that they say yes to most of the opportunities that cross their radar. But that's unsustainable. And once they realize it, it's often too late.

The underlying philosophy behind my work approach is what I like to call Zen Productivity. I care a lot about balancesustainability, and health. I prefer being "unproductive" while others prefer hustling 90 hours a week, if it means feeling better and happier. I prefer to trade raw speed for meaningful progress, even in tiny increments. I'm ready to work hard when it makes sense and in the right conditions, but certainly not at any price. This is what has pushed me away from the "classical" startup mindset. It's deeply incompatible with the life I want to live. I have all I need in life. I'm happy with that. And while I do have ambition and dreams, they're not worth sacrificing precious moments with my family and friends.

There's something lovely about doing things slowly and at my own pace

I have clarity about where I want to go and who I want to be. But I also have limited time and energy. I am not always in the right mindset, don't always have enough energy, am not always motivated. And to me, it is OKAY. I can live with that. I do what I can, whenever I can. And I don't, when I'm not willing or able to. It's not laziness. It's just about respect for my myself.

Now don't get the wrong idea. I am working hard. Just not beyond my limits. It's all about reaching and maintaining a sane equilibrium. It's a combination of mentality, a different approach to work. As well as systems and routines to focus effortlessly on what really matters, manage time thoughtfully, and leave enough room for leisure/rest/recovery. There are three keys to that: mindfulness, simplicity, and flow.

I rely a lot on my periodic reviews to know when I need to adjust. And also my energy level in the morning ;-)

Time Blocking

As John Zeratsky and Jake Knapp said, to achieve great results, you have to Make Time for what matters to you. That is, time for your own goals.

Time blocking is a key productivity technique that I rely on to do just that. During my weekly reviews, while planning ahead, I add time blocks for specific work. When I enter those blocks, I focus as much energy as possible on making progress there. That's it. Plain and simple. it's really effective. And I actually do the same for rest, and other activities. The goal, again, is to have balance, and leave enough room for the rest of my life.

Note that without time blocking and scheduling, your time is at the mercy of others. If you don't fill your calendar yourself, someone else will do it for you. That's why I pre-allocate my time.

I also rely on an Ideal schedule for the week where I have imagined how I would allocate my time during an ideal week. It's NOT something I follow precisely. It's just a support to help me make decisions. In practice, many things prevent me from following it.

Here's an outdated example of what I mean:

How I Organize My Work As a Solo Founder - Ideal week planning.png
An example of ideal planning for the week

To create that "ideal" schedule, I started by:

  • Calculating how my sleep I needed
  • Calculating how much time I had
  • Listing everything I needed or wanted to spend time on
  • How much time I needed or wanted to spend on that

Backlogs

Earlier in the article, I mentioned my daily notes, where I maintain the list of things I want to do next. That's my first backlog. It's the "NOW" backlog. But that's not the only one. Having all my tasks and ideas in a single place would be overwhelming.

I actually rely on multiple backlogs, that I mostly review/prioritize during my weekly and monthly periodic reviews:

  • One backlog per project
  • A personal backlog
  • A "planned" backlog

In each of those, I use a Kanban-like approach, tring to limit work in progress. I rely on the following columns:

  • Today
  • This Week
  • This Month
  • This Year
  • Later

Depending on the backlogs, I sometimes tag the items with the MoSCoW Method: MUST, SHOULD, COULD, to help me filter out the noise. When it's about software development, I tend to use issue references, as well as labels for the MoSCoW method and the Eisenhower Matrix).

During my periodic reviews, after prioritizing the relevant backlogs, I pick the next tasks I want to focus on, identify the main one, and add those to my daily note.

Those backlogs let me sleep at night. Again, they serve as a way to forget intentionally. Finally, thanks to this approach, I have a lot of visibility and can easily identify what comes next.

Once you get more out of your head, your mind is able to better focus on your most important work. Image generated using AI

Habits, Routines, and Processes

Last but not least, I rely on habits, routines, and processes to make my work "effortless".

There's a lot to say here, but I'll keep it short as this article is already quite long. Here's a short overview of my two most important routines.

First, my morning routine:

  • Wake up and prepare, take care of the kids, etc etc etc
  • Put myself in the right mindset
  • Open my daily note
  • Review my plan for the day
  • Recover the required mental context if any, all while sipping a cup of coffee
  • Get started

Second, my shut down routine (when time allows):

  • Dump my mental context(s) if needed
  • Review the day

The former helps me prepare and gets me in the right mindset. The second enables me to really disconnect from work and to be realistic about my efforts and progress. Those habits and routines exist to make my work "effortless". They act as forcing functions. They help me keep decision-making power for more useful things.

PS: If you wonder about those "mental contexts", then go check the articles in the references at the end.

Conclusion

Organizing work as a solo founder requires a well-thought-out system to overcome procrastination, stay on top of everything, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. In particular, as I've argued in this article, I consider the combination of Periodic Reviews, Journaling, Knowledge Management, Zen Productivity, Time Blocking, Backlogs, and Habits/Routines/Processes to be the foundation of a solid system. I know this looks like a lot, and it probably is. But it has become second nature for me. That's just the way I organize my work. I started designing my system intentionally after I read David Allen's famous book, "Getting Things Done", many years ago. And it has kept evolving ever since. It's now so mature that I'm now teaching it.

My main recommendation for you is to be more intentional about your own system. Design it carefully, and make sure it's aligned with your values and goals. Start small, and take time to make it evolve based on experimentation and feedback.

For more in-depth insights, check out my previous articles and the Knowledge Worker Kit.

Knowledge Worker Kit and community (BETA)
Who is this for?You are a Knowledge Worker or Lifelong LearnerYou feel lost and overwhelmed by the pace of innovation, disorganized, or unproductiveYou want to be a top performer and stay ahead of the curveYou want to join a community of like-minded people you can exchange with, and learn fromYou want a solid system that scalesYou want to learn with the bestWhat is this?TL;DR: This is a private community accompanied by a detailed guide exploring many topics (e.g., Knowledge Work, Personal Organization, Learning, Time Management, Project Management, etc), sharing proven and scalable systems/guidance. The content will keep expanding over time, with courses, workshops, and more!The Knowledge Worker Kit is an evergreen project. You buy access once, and you get lifetime access to all the past and future content, courses, and events:Private communityDeep Dive Guide with guidance, templates, references, and resourcesCoursesKnowledge Management for Beginners course ($69.99)Obsidian Starter Course ($59.99)Workshops, meetups, knowledge-sharing sessions, invited talks, AMAs, etcStarter KitsObsidian Starter Kit ($24.99)...Evergreen ContentThe Knowledge Worker Kit is not a one-time thing. It’s a living project, and a community of practice. It will continue expanding over time, and the value you will get out of it will keep increasing. Day after day, week after week. Buy it once, and you will have access to all future content, courses, and events.Who is behind this?Hi, I’m Sébastien DuboisI’ve been passionate about Knowledge Management, Learning, Knowledge Work, Personal Organization, and Productivity for more than 20 years. As an author, entrepreneur, coach, and father of 3, I needed efficient and effective solutions to stay organized, focused, and productive. The Knowledge Worker Kit includes everything I know about these topics, and more!I have a proven track record of delivering at work, and with my side projects. I have worked as a software developer, team leader, project manager, IT architect, CTO, founder, coach, consultant, solopreneur, and more. I have also published 3 books, 300+ articles and newsletters, created courses, YouTube videos, digital products, and manage various communities. And I did it all with a busy life, a 9-5 job, and 3 kids.My personal system works and helps me learn quickly, achieve my goals consistently, with high quality standards, and without sacrificing my health and precious family time. And that’s why I want to share it with you: my system. Actually, my goal is not only to share my experience, but also to create a community of like-minded people, and help each other grow as much as possible.Tell me more...Being a Knowledge Worker today is much more challenging than it ever was. Getting started isn’t easy, and there are many traps to fall into. Spare yourself some time and benefit from my experience and battle-tested system. I’ll share everything I know with you: my approach, my systems, my routines, my templates, guidance, my courses, my starter kits, and more! My mission is to help you avoid the pitfalls of Knowledge Work and empower you through technology.After you finish exploring the guide, you’ll have:Clarity in your life and an obvious path forwardSolid habits, routines, and systemsClear ideas about how to “manage” your careerAn effective approach to learning new thingsSolid knowledge management and personal organization systemsKnowledge about how to organize, plan, control, and manage projects (large and small!)A toolkit to prioritize workA system to manage your tasks at scaleEffective means to focus your attention and manage your timeWork methods that will propel your career forwardWhat’s included?WARNING: The Knowledge Worker Kit is in BETA. The content will be added and expanded over time. If you buy access now, you’ll benefit from the lowest price. The product is already available so that I can find early adopters and get as much feedback as possible in order to make it great for everyone.If you buy access to the Knowledge Worker Kit, you’ll get lifetime access to:The guide, the templates, guidance, references, and resourcesThe private communityAll past, and future courses (e.g., the Knowledge Management for Beginners course, the Obsidian Starter Kit)All past, and future community events (meetups, workshops, knowledge-sharing sessions, invited talks, etc)Ask Me Anything (AMA) Q&As with meMy starter kits (e.g., the Obsidian Starter Kit)In addition, you’ll also get free access to all future content updates. Over time, I’ll continue expanding the kit with new ideas, techniques, systems, templates, and more!What’s in the guide?The guide is a Notion space that includes detailed explanations, guidance, deep dives into the systems I rely on daily, links, references, templates, and various resources that all Knowledge Workers should explore.You will get to explore the content at your own pace, and to focus on what is useful to you right now, as each section is actionable on its own.Importantly, the guide will keep growing. It’s an evergreen knowledge base. Over time, we will grow the content further, adding new guides, deeper explanations, videos, and more.It covers the following topics:01. Clarity: values, behaviors, goals, non-goals, priorities, and intentions02. Habits, routines, systems, processes and methods03. Career Management and Anticipation04. Learning05. Projects Knowledge Management and Journaling06. Projects Organization07. Planning and Prioritization08. Task Management09. Focus, Attention, Time Management and Action10. Personal Development11. Control: periodic reviews, progress tracking, course-adjustment12. Personal Organization13. WorkOverview of the main topics01. ClarityThis part explores key elements that help bring clarity to one’s life:NeedsValuesPrinciplesGoalsPrioritiesEach of those is important to know what matters, what has value, and what to focus on.02. Habits, routines, systems, processes and methodsThis part explores the base elements of productivity systems:Habits and routinesSystems, processes, and methodsThose are key to building an “effortless” life, requiring as little willpower/motivation as possible to make things happen.03. Career Management and AnticipationThis part focuses on career management: its importance, your responsibility, the mindset you need to acquire, and all the related ideas.04. LearningThis part shares ideas about how to…Learn how you best learnLearn more effectivelyExplore new topicsResearchFilter informationLeverage AI and LLMs…05. Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) and JournalingThis part explores how to collect, organize, and link all your knowledge and information. It explores the main concepts of PKM, note-taking, note-making, tools of the trade, and structures/tips to help you keep everything useful, manageable, and maintainable as your knowledge base grows.It also introduces journaling and how to approach it to support your whole life.06. Projects OrganizationThis part focuses on how to organize projects and their information in a way that enables you and your teams to make focused progress.It shares ideas about how to organize project information, how to document projects, how to organize backlogs, etc.07. Planning and PrioritizationThis part focuses on how to plan projects and tasks, how to deal with deadlines, and how to prioritize work using various methods.08. Task ManagementThis part focuses on task management for personal and professional projects. It explores ways to keep tasks under control, how to organize personal work, and how to make the link between your different backlogs and your day-to-day life.09. Focus, Attention, Time Management and ActionThis part focuses on how to make things happen every single day, regardless of whatever is going on in your life. It’s all about techniques, tips & tricks, and tools to help you better manage your time, focus, and attention in order to ACT.10. Personal DevelopmentThis part explores important aspects of Personal Development that can make a big difference in a Knowledge Worker’s life. A sane mind in a sane body.11. ControlThis part is dedicated to control. How to control your progress, your trajectory, your projects, etc. And also, how to adjust course when things don’t go as expected.12. Personal OrganizationThis part helps better organize yourself and your information. It shares “zen” techniques you can use to remain organized, independently of how much information you have to juggle with.13. WorkThis part is all about WORK. How to do the work, how to improve your attitude, your results, and your recognition. It also dives into how to better collaborate with others to achieve your goals and those of your company/group.

That's it for today! ✨

References