When I have a long list of to-do’s, there is a technique I use on the tougher ones that makes them easier. I call it taxi to takeoff.Read more →
I have found that the number one reason we struggle with tasks is that they are actually projects, that we TREAT like tasks. So what’s the difference between a project and a task?
The easiest way to answer that question is with another question: How do you eat an elephant?Read more →
A while back I described how to organize your to-do’s by comparing them to newspaper headlines. Today I want to share an actual model of what that might look like.
To summarize, the front page of a newspaper is made up of a series of short compelling headlines. Each headline may have a short blurb, but it always has a connecter to the full story inside. Much of the time, what piles up on our desks are full stories.Read more →
What action system do you used to get things done? Outlook? A Filofax? Your Smart phone? Maybe a good old fashioned to-do list? Odds are you are using a combination of all of the above. If your system is not working, it’s helpful to look at all the elements that make a good action system. If any one of these elements are not working, the whole system can fall apart. Element 1: Single Focus. You may go to bed with a beautifully worked out plan for tomorrow, but of course stuff happens. I won’t waste time on why you get distracted from your plan. It happens to the most disciplined of us. What’s important is that you at least DO start with a plan, a single page in a single place, so that you have one place to return to after your inevitable distractions. If your plan is divided your focus will be too. Element 2: Fixed Events. To-do lists don’t work for several reasons. The first is, they don’t take into account your fixed events of the day. You’re […]Read more →
There is a time to sort-and-purge clutter and a time to act on your to-do’s. It’s counter-productive to mix the sorting with the acting.
To truly understand why these two things are incompatible, it is first important to recognize the difference between getting organized and staying organized. It’s not unlike the difference between cooking a meal and eating it. It just works better to eat a meal after it is fully cookedRead more →
Ever had so much stuff piled up on your desk, that you didn’t feel like you could do ANY of it? Challenge yourself to pick a limited number for each task. Start with your to-do list. Here’s my to do list for today. I’ve got one big fixed commitment in the middle of the day that will block most of my time. Once I’m clear on where my free time is, I then limit my to-do’s to a number I can fit in with little Post-It notes. Because it’s a realistic number, it’s more likely to get done. Got an overwhelming number of prospects to follow up on? Take a tip from my friend Rich Gee and choose your five most promising ones. Focus on just those five first. Having a tough time getting your blog out regularly? Choose a limited topic and select just three salient examples. The shorter the blog, the more likely people are to read it. If your to-do’s aren’t getting to done, look for ways to reduce the numbers.Read more →
Knot Thinking A while back I wrote a post called Bungle In The Bundle, about how some familiar bundles hamper, rather than help, good organizing. Actually, it’s more than just the bundles themselves that interfere, it’s the line of thinking that is not working. I call this knot thinking. When you employ knot thinking, you think about knotting things up for safety, but you are not thinking of retrieval and usability. An example of knot thinking would be stuffing everything into your closet to get it off your floor. As a result, you may feel like your room is under control. You may even feel organized, but that feeling can’t possibly last because you are knot thinking about the closet. Sure, the doors are closed and everything is “tied up” inside, but if you can’t easily retrieve what you want, when you want it, then you are not well organized. Another example of knot thinking is wrapping up bundles of envelopes in rubber bands. I’ve seen thousands of these bundles in households. Nothing ever goes into them and nothing comes […]Read more →
Ah, the clear desk. There’s nothing like it. It represents control and a sense of accomplishment, but it’s more than just a nice idea. A clear work surface is nothing less than your MOST valuable organizing tool. That’s right. I said organizing TOOL. As with all tools, a work surface performs best when it is used with the right purpose. Storing junky tchotchkes on your work surface is like using a hammer to saw a plank. So what does your work surface need to be dedicated to? PROCESSING PAPERWORK. To understand why this is so important, compare your office to your computer’s hard drive. A computer uses thousands of megabytes on applications and documents, but it must reserve a certain amount of random access memory for PROCESSING data or it will get overwhelmed and crash. If you run out of work surface to process paperwork, then YOU will be overwhelmed and crash! Now, perhaps you’re saying “Yeah, but I need everything out where I can see it!” I agree that if you need to make a point of acting on […]Read more →
Ever wonder what a “tickler file” is? It’s a collection of 43 labeled folders, 31 days and 12 months, that helps you organize time-sensitive documents. It has been around in various formats since the early 20th century, but has probably been most notably covered in David Allen’s 2001 classic, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity.
To me the most valuable message from Allen’s book was,Read more →
“Out Where I Can See It” is an understandable need, but the problem is if everything is important, then nothing is important. If the front page of a newspaper appeared solid gray with unbroken text, you probably wouldn’t bother with it. It’s too overwhelming. Not only would it take time to prioritize the most important articles, it would take time just to see them!Read more →