OK, I have previously identified that I needed to rethink my strategy when it comes to “getting things done” (GTD). But I still felt I was lacking in my productivity. So I got thinking some more, I thought about it when in the shower, I thought about it when washing the dishes, hell I probably dreamt about it. Then it hit me. That was the problem.
I was thinking so much about GTD that I was actually not getting things done! Sounds stupid right? Yeah I know, but it is very easy to fall in to this trap. You know you need to do something, you know you have a lot to do, when the hell do I do it, but do it smartly, where do you begin, so many questions, AHHHHH! Boom. Head explosion.
So now I knew my biggest problem. I wasn’t getting things done. Crap, I am back at square one. But the difference this time is that I knew I was disorganised this is a big step in the admission process. You need to admit that you have a problem and you need to fix it, yeah you are not a crack addict, but you still need to admit it to move on.
Now, I know what my main problem is, I am disorganised. So like the crack addict trying to get off the smack, you need to start taking the baby steps to getting
clean more organised. I intend to blog about the various aspects of GTD that I come across, how I apply certain methods and my results. Some may work for you, others may not. But if it gets you thinking, then I will be happy :)
Step 1 – Get it Out Of Your System (The ToDo List)
OK, so the first thing is to get over the “crazies” and stop worrying about our tasks we need to do. Now we could go running back to the smack, but I would strongly not recommend that. Instead, free your mind.. To quote the classic “Platoon” when Junior is talking to Bunny “Free your mind, and your ass will follow”.
Get the tasks out of your mind and into a place where you can review them when you need to.
I know what your thinking, “Well, duh! It’s called a ToDo list Rob and we all have one!”. Sure, but I have had one long before I got to this stage, but it wasn’t helping. Why not? I wasn’t using it [enough].
I personally use RememberTheMilk (RTM), it’s a fantastic service. Great website, good organisation options and an awesome logo to boot :D I now keep it open all the time. Like most geeks 98% of the time, I am on the computer, so it happily sits there in a browser window until I need it. If I am not able to get to a computer I have the RTM mobile version of the site as my mobiles home page. And I always have that on me. Failing that, a good old pen and paper.
The secret is as soon as you get a task, write it down on your list, then forget about it. Obviously if it’s a really urgent task then prioritise accordingly, but make sure you update any notes on the task(s) you need to stop. This means that your brain is only ever dealing with one task.
Now, the point about updating your notes is very important, especially if you switch tasks a lot. You should be able to pick up your tasks notes and quickly know where you are at with that task. This helps you (because you don’t need to think to much about what’s going on), your superiors (because you can give them task/project updates at the drop of a hat) and above all, your brain because you are keeping information out of your short term memory.
This takes discipline, but after doing it for just a few days, I found I quickly got into the swing of it. I now worry so much less because I know my system is working for me. This is when I then found I could actually start thinking about other areas to look at, one at a time, in baby steps.
- Get tasks out of your head and onto a list.
- Ensure you can get the “status” of a task quickly.
- Organise tasks in a relevant fashion, use more lists, tagging and search systems (where available).
- Burden your GTD system more and your brain less.
- Only focus on one task at a time.
I will post more snippets of my learning’s/methods soon :)