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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

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
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