Getting Things Done

In honor of my last week of job-free, child-free time, I am getting my home office in order.

I started by checking David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity out of the library. (I had read about it on Wess Daniels’ blog.)

The good news is that I am already using elements of his system, so it doesn't feel foreign or undoable to me. I expect I will assimilate a few more tips and not worry about working the whole system exactly.

The next step was collecting all my stuff. Which is a project in itself. I have done this before, but not in a while. This meant walking around the house and collecting all the stuff that belongs in my office, pulling everything off the shelves (and out of the file drawers) in my office that isn’t where it belongs, and then writing down all the things I know I have to/want to/might do on separate pieces of paper. This established one giant “in box,” or rather a set of “in” piles which took up almost half the floor of my office. Just that much took most of the morning.

The second half of yesterday plus the first half of today were spent sorting through the piles. Allen has a great flow chart for sorting through “in.” The most important advice was to just start at the top and keep going, although I did cheat a little by first culling out the things that took up the most space or were the most destabilizing in my piles – like books and odd shaped things. My in box is now empty. I made it thus far without hyperventilating or crying, but only by resorting to the aid of sufficient chocolate.

I also spent some time last night clearing out my email. There are still way too many old emails in my inbox, but that will be a longer term project that I’ll have to come back to later.

I like the idea of sorting tasks by where I can do them. I have been working through my list of things that will take under two minutes. That may be the best advice in the book, that I hadn’t heard before.

I still need to move my project files to more functional containers, but I'm giving myself some time to think about that.

Now I have to actually get some of the other things on my task lists DONE.

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Blogger naturalmom said...

Wow, that sounds like an interesting system. I need something like that, but I have almost no long periods of time to work, with the baby and all. Even as I type this, he's creating havoc in the office around me. Ack! I spend about 5 minutes at a time in here and always leave it worse than when I came in. So sad. ;o)


8/15/2008 10:04 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

The best advice I got about getting things done when my babies were little came from my mom. She said, when the baby goes down for his nap, know what is the one thing you most need to get done and do that first. Then if he sleeps long enough, you might get other things done, or maybe not, but at least you will have a sense of having accomplished something.

I couldn't have worked any kind of system like this when I was still in the nursing/sleep deprived/insanity phase of life.

8/15/2008 3:43 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

All you need now is a moleskine!

8/16/2008 1:27 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Hi Wess, I have something similar to a moleskine, which I'm thinking about using as part of this process, but I'm not sure yet.

Some things will just wait until my new job starts, like setting up a more consistent system for collecting contact information - I figure I'll just use whatever software they use.

8/16/2008 12:38 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

I want to record here that as of today, I am down from 1500 plus emails in the in box to 57. And I know what all of those are, and they all require some action, not all by me.

8/16/2008 10:26 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

New brilliant trick: since I do some of my best thinking in the shower, I put a pad and pencil in the bathroom so I can capture those ideas without having to dry off and run out of the bathroom half dressed to try to find the nearest pad, by which time I've forgotten half of my brilliant ideas.

If you're doing this, I think the cheaper the pad the better, just in case it falls in the sink or the shaving cream, you won't feel bad about throwing the rest of it out. The ones that my kids sometimes get in party bags are perfect.

8/17/2008 9:55 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Robin, I know your ministry in the world is about so much more, but these posts about the practical side of things always speak to my condition. I've been thinking I needed to track down GTD again, and after reading this, I know I do.

8/21/2008 10:39 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Linda, I'm glad they speak to you. Thanks for telling me - then I don't feel like they're just silly.

I want to record that I actually did a good weekly review on Sunday afternoon and as of today, my inbox has only 14 emails in it. Half of which are just waiting for Chris to read. It's getting close.

8/26/2008 1:13 AM  

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