Ideas & Insights
My perspective on creativity, innovation and getting stuff done
Do you find that over summer, things slow down and your work schedule is more relaxed? Then, come September it’s time to ramp up your efforts at work. It’s a great time to look at how you get organized to get your best work done.
Though I’m ambitious and I get a lot done, I don’t work long hours. So, I need to make the best possible use of my working time.
I’ve created my own productivity system, largely based on “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. Allen tells us that when we’re planning, we are using a smarter part of the brain. When we’re actually doing the work, it’s as though we are a lazier, less intelligent version of ourselves.
To make it as easy as possible for myself to get work done, I like to separate my lists of actions and reminders. This way, my main to do list has only things on it that I can do right now.
My three most useful lists are: Waiting, Later, and Current. (I’ve put these lists on Mac Reminders, which syncs with my iPhone.)
Things that I’m waiting for someone else to do or send. Usually, it’s online orders I’m waiting for and things I’m waiting to hear back on.
Tasks I can’t start right now. I’ll put scheduled tasks, like doing my sales tax. Also, tasks that I can’t start ‘til later, for example, if I want to get in touch with a client, but he’s on vacation for the next two weeks. Also, tasks that I’ll start later because I’m too busy right now.
This is my main to-do list. It has clearly defined next actions that I can do now. It doesn’t have any items where I’m waiting for something or someone else to get started.
I put a reminder date on all “Waiting and “Later” tasks, so I will get a notification to follow up. What this means is that I don’t even have to look at these lists until the reminder appears. So, when I’m working from my “Current” list, I don’t get bogged down with tasks that I can’t do right now.
I can pick any task and begin right away. I’m more in control of my work because I’m only looking at what’s actionable. I can power through my list, getting one thing done after another, making the best use of the hours I choose to work.
Try it yourself! And, if you’re interested in helping your team learn how to get stuff done more easily, check out our Making It Happen workshop.