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How I'm Getting Things Done

All righty then. I've been a busy little bee over the past few days, and I thought I'd share some of what I've been doing. I've read about two-thirds of Getting Things Done, and have started to implement his system, in conjunction with some other stuff (things I learned from Franklin and FlyLady, in particular). Basically, the point of all this is to get everything I need/want to do out of my mind (where it floats around bothering me until I take action on it), and into a trusted system which will remind me at the right time of the various things I need/want to do. So, here's how I'm organized now, and with any luck I'll be able to stay on track with this stuff and STAY organized.

First things first (you will appreciate this dilettantiquity) . . . I have processed ALL MY PHYSICAL STUFF! Every scrap of paper, business card, flyer, receipt, etc. etc. etc. that I had stashed away anywhere in this apartment is now processed. Meaning I've: made a note to myself to take action on it if necessary, filed it if I just want to keep it for reference, jotted down the info (in the case of addresses and such), put it in a stack of things to read at my leisure, or tossed it into the trash. (That last one is my favorite :D). YAY! It is a really good feeling.

I wish I'd taken a before pic, but I didn't. So, you'll have to imagine for yourself that this laundry basket was about half full of paperwork. (I must admit, this is a shockingly small amount of household paperwork; if I was doing this for the stuff in California it would have taken me days and days. I'll have to handle that sooner or later, but for now, this is all I had to hand):

This was half-full when I started

So, where did all that stuff go? Probably about half went into the trash. Most of the rest of it went into these:

Files - lovely purple!

Ooh! New filing system, with everything alphabetical with names I should be able to remember, so I can find things without hunting for them. The only things that aren't alphabetical are "Pending," "Waiting" and "Someday/Maybe" files which I've decided to keep at the front, because these are the ones I'll access the most; everything else is really just for reference. Of course, my files are purple, and I decided to splurge on a label maker - this is one of the things Allen recommends in the book, and at first I scoffed, but it did make it more fun to set up the system, and it looks a lot prettier than it would with my handwriting scrawled on everything. (Plus, trying to write on purple folders would have been tricky).

The next part of my system is my calendar, for which I'm using gCal:

gCal

I've got different calendars set up: one for Connor/family activities (red); one for my own appointments & activities (purple); one for the daily "theme" (turquoise), which is a FlyLady thing that I'm not quite sure yet how I'll end up using. Since gCal lets you set up a variety of reminders, I've also got a calendar for "Next Actions" (green). These are things I wanted to be reminded to do at some point in the future, and putting them here lets me set up an e-mail or pop up reminder (I could probably also send texts to my phone, but I haven't set that up yet). So now I don't have to try and remember that I have an acupuncture appointment on Tuesday; I'll get an e-mail Monday reminding me AND a pop-up reminder Tuesday morning. Since I want to have a copy of my appointments with me, periodically I'll print out a copy of this to carry with me (I posted a photo of this in a previous entry).

The other cornerstone of my system is what I'm calling my modified hPDA. (Remember the little green journal I posted a few days ago? This is what I've done to it). I've set it up with GTD tabs from the front working towards the back, and my FlyLady Control Journal from the back working towards the front.

In the front, I have tabs for all the different "contexts" in my life, so I can organize the things I need to do based on where I need to be when I do them (or with whom). Under "at home" I have a list of all the actions I need to do when I'm at home; "errands" are things I need to do when I'm out and about in the car; "Kevin" is a list of things I want to discuss with Kevin, etc., This is the part that's very different from any system I've used before. In the past, I've always used daily to-do lists. Every day, I would create a new one with the things I wanted to do that day. (This is what I was taught by Franklin). The problem with this is that everything I didn't manage to do on any given day then has to be transferred to another day. And maybe another and another and another. That gets depressing after a short while (for me, anyway). Now, all my lists are running to-do lists, and organized in a way that makes it easy to see what I could be doing in any given situation. There is no need for me to look through the list of people I could call when I'm away from the phone, for example. This is the part of the system I'm most excited about.

Here are my tabs (and how pretty they look with the label-maker)!

GTD tabs

I've set it up so that there are between three and five pages for me to keep track of my "next actions" in each tab. When I fill those pages up, I'll just move the tab back to fresh pages in the middle of the book. (In some ways, I can see it might be easier to do this in a loose-leaf binder, but I wanted to give it a try with this bound journal first).

At the end of this front section, I've got a tab for "Projects." Allen defines a project as anything requiring more than one action. So, sometimes a project can be very large with loads of separate actions needed: "remodel the house." Or, it can be as simple as "Go to the dentist," where the actions might be "get a referral for dentist who takes my insuarance in Pennsylvania" & "make an appointment." I put this in the middle, so there are plenty of pages for brainstorming or making lists of tasks related to specific projects.

More GTD tabs

For the heck of it, here is the wonderful label maker!

The lovely label maker!

At the back, I've put my FlyLady Control Journal, so I can easily access these reminders every day for the "routines" I do at various times. I've also created a tab for "Today," which I'm intending to use as a small daily "to-do" list (with things for which I've gotten calendar reminders, for example). I plan to leave this list small, and mostly work from the lists in the front, but this way each day I can make sure I do anything that absolutely MUST be done on this particular day. (I've just realized I added the "Today" tab after taking this photo; it's in the empty space).

My Control Journal

Now, the key to this is to keep using it every day, so that all these lovely things I've moved out of my brain and onto paper reappear at the appropriate times. I'm excited about it right now, and I plan to hang onto this momentum. This is possibly the trickiest part. My inner perfectionist keeps whispering, "but you've done all this kind of stuff before, and never stuck with it." I just keep telling her, "Yes, but this time is different. I can do this, and I am doing this, and I will continue to do this into the future." So there. :D

Here is Happy!Wendy, with all her paperwork processed:

Happy Wendy with all paperwork processed!

And Connor, Getting Things Done in a lovely clean living room:

Connor getting things done in a clean living room!

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
nice_cup_of_tea
Sep. 15th, 2007 06:05 pm (UTC)
Go Wendy!
Isn't it such a great feeling when everything is done and processed?! my systems are pretty up to date here and at work. I'm still an Outlook / laptop / pda girl. Plus notes in various moleskin journals. I really believe that I need a combination of handwritten notes and typed up stuff! My big pending task is to sort out our filing cabinet. We have a system of sorts, but we need a sort out. Lots of crap in there!
here_be_dragons
Sep. 15th, 2007 07:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Go Wendy!
Is it a great feeling! And the house is nearly cleaned/organized top-to-bottom, too. (My bedroom needs a bit of work, but that's about it). I did use my PDA for a while for this kind of stuff (calendar stuff, I mean), and I would probably be trying that again right now if Kevin hadn't "swiped" my Treo :D, but in a way, I think I'm glad. I think I'll be better off with a paper notebook for much of this stuff. I like electronic reminders and my calendar online, but there is something more satisfying for me about having a paper checklist, that I can actually strikethrough when I've finished something.

I like his "system" of filing - he doesn't go into any details (I've read books where they actually tell you what categories you should have, and what to label all the folders). He just says give it a name you'll be able to remember, and alphebetize everything. Of course, I don't have loads of paperwork, because I don't have a job/business that generates stuff like that. But still, I think I could do it like this even if I did have more. Pretty cool.

:)
(Deleted comment)
here_be_dragons
Sep. 15th, 2007 07:22 pm (UTC)
I'll keep you posted on how this is going. Right now, I am spending a lot of time on *getting* organized, but I hope that I'll be able to spend less and less time, progressively, in the future. For one thing, right now I'm spending a lot of time with FlyLady stuff, but I'm hoping that soon these routines (which I need to refer to on paper right now, to remember) will become habit. (I won't need to look at the paper every night to remember to charge my cell phone, for example). Also, I can see that I might decide to simplify the running to-do list categories, if it turns out I don't really need all those different contexts for my activities. Or maybe this will work just the way I've got it now. In any case, I think the absolute best thing is knowing that I've got EVERYTHING I need to remember written down somewhere, so I don't have to put a lot of mental energy into worrying about what I'm forgetting at any given moment. That's what I need the most, and what I hope most to maintain. Although keeping my house clean will be another good bonus. :D
elfundeb
Sep. 15th, 2007 07:15 pm (UTC)
This is a very impressive system! Keep us posted on how well this works. I want to know because I am hopeless at organization, and usually don't even bother with a calendar (because I never put things in it, it was useless), but I want to know if it's just me that can't (or doesn't really want to) become really organized.
here_be_dragons
Sep. 15th, 2007 07:25 pm (UTC)
I think that we all have the ability to *learn* to be organized - some people just happen to be born knowing how, and the rest of us have to put more effort into learning it. :D I didn't have any good role models for this growing up, which might be part of the reason it's a struggle for me. (Also, I think wanting to is a big part of it; I feel really motivated right now, and I hope to be able to carry this feeling forward). :) After playing around with systems over the years, I'm optimistic that this will work better than anything yet. And I'm fully prepared to start tweaking if necessary to make it even better. I will keep you posted, and I'd also recommend Allen's book - it's pretty cheap at Amazon, and I'm getting a lot of good ideas from it. :)
dilettantiquity
Sep. 16th, 2007 01:05 am (UTC)
I've been seeing your pics pop up on my 43Things/Flickr feeds - I love seeing other people's systems. So inspiring! (And I need inspiration - you should see my pile of paperwork-in-progress.)

Your to-do system is cool; daily to-dos totally fail for me as well; they always start with a huge enthusiastic list and crumble very quickly. Best thing I've learned recently? Maybe the to-do list has the problem and not me. :)

Reading the comments to this entry made me happy - the love is spreading from websites to journals to other people's journals as people think about making their lives better.

here_be_dragons
Sep. 16th, 2007 01:35 am (UTC)
Re: daily to-dos . . . yes, I'm starting to think that they're just not that great in general. K came home yesterday (after two weeks away), so today was the first time I've had a chance to talk to him about any of this stuff. He uses the Franklin system; has for years (he was the one who first told me about it, so this is more than 15 years ago). So, I thought I'd tell him about GTD, but that he wouldn't be too interested, as Franklin was already working well for him.

Well, come to find out he kinda hates daily to-do lists, and he's been using the Franklin system all these years, but he's kinda on again, off again about it, too. I'm guessing he mostly uses the calendar to keep track of meetings, etc., but maybe not for much more than that. So, I'm hoping he'll read GTD and maybe get some good ideas. I might even let him borrow the label maker sometimes, ;)

I, too, am feeling really happy about the love spreading - it's like a meme in the most helpful sense of the word! As I'm doing these things, and I get an idea of something to do and go looking for a solution, it's cool to see what others are doing, and feel like I'm part of something bigger. Plus, just being able to say I have an hPDA, I feel like one of the "cool" kids. ;)

You know what you said about feeling happier and calmer, etc.? I'm feeling that way, too. Just looking around my living room makes me feel good. It's no longer pristine. (Are you kidding? With Connor? Hee. We have an art project on the dining room table, and he's got various other things out now), but I know that it's a matter, literally, of five minutes to get it back in shape. Ditto the kitchen (no, actually, I've just looked and it's clean; Kevin did the dishes after dinner). I'm not worried that I'll forget something massively important, and I'm not feeling guilty about how I'm spending my time. I feel like I'm choosing, more than just being dragged along by whatever grabs my attention. It's really cool. Thanks for starting up this "meme" in my life by posting about your own stuff. *hugs*
dilettantiquity
Sep. 16th, 2007 01:29 pm (UTC)
We have an art project on the dining room table, and he's got various other things out now), but I know that it's a matter, literally, of five minutes to get it back in shape. Ditto the kitchen (no, actually, I've just looked and it's clean; Kevin did the dishes after dinner). I'm not worried that I'll forget something massively important, and I'm not feeling guilty about how I'm spending my time. I feel like I'm choosing, more than just being dragged along by whatever grabs my attention. It's really cool. Thanks for starting up this "meme" in my life by posting about your own stuff. *hugs*

I feel just the same way; in fact, I'm starting to find it rather peculiar to note just how much of my stress has been self-created by making things more difficult than they needed to be. (Seriously, why did I keep letting my phone and my housekeys sink to the bottom of my unsorted-handbag-of-junk for ten years, when I knew this caused repeated panics about whether they were lost or misplaced? Such silly little things and so easily remedied.)

I'm so glad you're into this too - you're always so enthusiastic, and it's so much easier to stay motivated when you have friends around with similar goals!

And now I am going to go to bed ON TIME because I have finished everything on my to-do list and done some loose meal-planning for the week AND had time to play some computer games, do some laundry, go flower-shopping at the markets, help D clean the fish-tank, go to the football, watch two episodes of Dr Who and have dinner with a friend in my NON SHAMEFUL AND IN FACT LOVELY HOUSE. German efficiency, ja! :D
here_be_dragons
Sep. 16th, 2007 04:09 pm (UTC)
And now I am going to go to bed ON TIME because I have finished everything on my to-do list and done some loose meal-planning for the week AND had time to play some computer games, do some laundry, go flower-shopping at the markets, help D clean the fish-tank, go to the football, watch two episodes of Dr Who and have dinner with a friend in my NON SHAMEFUL AND IN FACT LOVELY HOUSE. German efficiency, ja! :D

Isn't it the best feeling? And I am beaming over here, thinking about the wonderful, productive HAPPY day that you had! And your good night's sleep.

It IS easier to stay motivated when you have a friend to share it. Thanks for keeping me going - let's keep this cycle going and going and going, shall we?

*love and hugs*
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