10 6 / 2012
Ever found yourself in a situation, when you are overwhelmed with tasks and understand perfectly that you cannot for the love of God do them all? I know the feeling. In fact I know it too well.
The thing is that I keep overestimating myself and taking more than I should. I guess here my bloated ego is to blame. Oh well.
Anyway, here are two processes that supposedly help.
Get out while you can
Some commitments can be dropped without much reprecautions. Drop them while you can. I certainly try to.
The hard thing is determining what can be dropped and letting go. If you have trouble with it, don’t worry you are not alone. I guess we all struggle from this kind of thing.
What helps me is question “What’s the worst thing that could happen if I don’t do that task?” If I can live with the worst result of my inaction, I can easily drop the task. Lovely.
For some portion of my tasks I not the best person to do them. In some cases I don’t have enough enthusiasm about the task, in some I don’t have the skill to do it right on the first try, in others there’s just someone else available that could help me do it.
This is the time when it makes sense to delegate like crazy. Delegation could help you a lot, you just have to learn how to do it right. I myself have not mastered this skill yet, but from what I gathered, you have to give precise description of the end result, general idea on how you want it to be done, time and cost constrains, and enough authority for that person to compete the task.
All I know about delegation I learnt from the “Manager tools” podcast, which is a gold mine of helpful and thought provoking information. The episode you might want to start with could be downloaded here.
Cheers, and don’t work too hard!
10 6 / 2012
Dealing with tweets you like or want to act on is a niche topic, and the process is rather unique for each and every individual.
To tell the truth, I am quite proud of my current workflow, which I would like to share with you.
Here it goes.
- Is this tweet actionable? Does it mention an article I want to read, restaurant I would like to visit or an idea I would like to explore?
- If YES, I send it from Tweetbot to Instapaper, my unified inbox for all things from the web. GOTO 3.
- If NO, that’s ok. GOTO 2.
- Do I like this tweet? Was it a really funny picture, an interesting short video I’ve enjoyed watching, a good joke?
- If YES, favorite that lovely tweet. GOTO 3.
- If NO, that’s ok. Not all the tweets can be awesome.
- If the tweet you “saved for later” in 1. or “like” in 2. is worth sharing, share away. RT, RT, RT.
07 6 / 2012
- 1: Where do I store list of books I want to read, movies I want to see, music I want to listen to?
- 2: Separate Someday/Maybe list. Just make sure you use it, i.e. open it up every time you want to get a new book, select a movie to watch or an album to buy.
- 1: Where do I store delegated to-dos in the Things app?
- 2: Try tagging them with "Waiting for..." and phrasing them in a following way "%name %thing-you-delegated". If you do not want those items to be on your radar for a while, just put them into "Scheduled" a couple of days forward. Oh, and it's probably a good idea to check you active "Waiting for..." items daily and follow up if necessary.
06 6 / 2012
For those of you using OmniFocus.
You have access to an amazing tool. OmniFocus, unlike many before and many after, has so-called “Start dates” and understands plain English.
So, next time you need to remember to follow up on the email, just add a task “Follow up %name re %topic” with start date e.g. “tomorrow”, which will add this task to your action list starting tomorrow.
04 6 / 2012
INBOX GROUPS & ACTIONS: 0
Inbox action groups: 0
Inbox actions: 0
Active folders: 17
Dropped folders: 6
Active projects: 54
Current projects: 50
Pending projects: 4
On-hold projects: 22
Completed projects: 92
Dropped projects: 42
SINGLE ACTION LISTS: 18
Active single action lists: 9
On-hold single action lists: 3
Completed single action lists: 6
Dropped single action lists: 0
Active contexts: 8
On-hold contexts: 1
Dropped contexts: 0
ACTION GROUPS: 21
Remaining action groups: 4
Completed action groups: 17
Completed actions: 625
Dropped project actions: 20
Dropped context actions: 0
Remaining actions: 105
Actions in Projects on hold: 18
Actions in Contexts on hold: 0
Blocked actions: 50
Blocked by future start date: 46
Sequentially blocked: 4
Available actions: 37
02 6 / 2012
It is said that each and every one of us enjoys reasonable challenge: doing something we have never done before, or quicker, or of better quality.
There is however a fine line between being reasonably challenged and being overwhelmed with tasks, a line that is too easy to cross.
For example, working under pressure of a deadline could help you stay focused on tasks at hand, but if the scope of work is too large for a given timeframe the pressure will make you depressed.
Just be careful there, don’t take too much on your plate.
31 5 / 2012
Interruptions, interruptions, interruptions. Ding, dong, here are another 20 emails.
All those people, who want my attention. All the things I have committed to do. Feels like they own my time and attention, not me.
"Go, go, go," I tell myself, "you can fight it, just have to be more efficient. Come on!".
Truth be told, you can’t fight overload by becoming more efficient. You can however try something different.
Do nothing for two minutes. Set a timer, because these two minutes will probably feel like hours.
It is not a solution, but it helps. Let’s call it two-minute band-aid, shall we?
28 5 / 2012
When I read about paper-based GTD systems, one of the capture tools, which gets recommended a lot, is hipster PDA.
I however was never a fan of hipster PDA. I distrust a pack of index cards held together just by a paper clip. I mean, really, these things could get unclipped just as easily as the were clipped in the first place, and a precious peace of information could just slip out of the back pocket of your 501’s, and get lost, forever.
When I find myself wishing to switch to paper-based GTD system, I do not use hipster PDA to record ideas, things to do, useful information, etc. Instead, I use a very small spiral notebook.
Rules for using this ubiquitous capture tool are simple:
- Carry two notebooks: one that you use and an extra blank one, just in case.
- One sheet - one thought: this will help make processing it later a bliss.
- Process daily: once sheet is processed, tear it out and throw it away.
- Only capture: spiral notebook is for capturing things, not for storing them. Don’t keep your lists in it, there are better tools for that, e.g. Pocket mod.
There you have it - the best paper-based capture tool. In six years of practicing this stuff I have not found a better one, and I am not sure I ever will.
13 5 / 2012
Sometimes I find myself thinking of the best way to implement GTD methodology for teams, teams in which only a few members are interested in the GTD methodology itself, but (luckily) everyone wants to get things done.
Theoretically this should be a recipe for success:
- Everyone can have any system they want.
- Tasks are not only delegated, they have to be acknowledged by the delegatee.
- Once acknowledged task becomes responsibility of the delegatee until he or she reports it as done.
Whatever happens between 2. and 3. does not matter. Well, at least as long as everyone knows who does what by when, and cares about completing tasks they are responsible for.
11 5 / 2012
Get 10 sheets of paper. It is time to build your system.
Use three sheets for the brain dump. Write all the things you need and want to do, one item per line. If you need extra sheets at this point, take them.
Once you are done write the following titles on three other sheets: “Projects”, “Actions”, “Waiting for…”.
Time to Process and Organize
For each item on your list follow this logic
Can this be done in 2 minutes?
Yes → Do it.
No → GOTO 2.
Can you delegate this to someone else?
Yes → Do it AND write a follow-up task on your “Waiting for …” list. Use this template “[Name of the delegatee] follow up re [task delegated]”.
No → GOTO 3.
Is the item a single action or a part of a larger project?
Single action → Add it to the “Actions” list. Start it with an actionable verb and rephrase it as if delegating to someone else.
Larger project → Write the envisioned outcome of that larger project as a sentence to the “Projects” list. Then add to the “Actions” list the next physical action you will have to do to complete that project. Remember, start with a verb and rephrase as if delegating to someone else.
Is there one more item on the list?
Yes → GOTO 1.
No → Great! Good job!
Now Do something from you “Actions” list. Strike it out when done.
Every evening Review your “Projects” and “Waiting for…” lists to see if anything new needs to be added to the “Actions” list. Remember, start with a verb and rephrase as if delegating to someone else.
09 5 / 2012
Today we bought my wedding suit, and it took us only 1.5 hours. How was that possible?
- I had a pretty good idea what I wanted, my love did as well, and luckily our visions were close enough.
- We went to just one place - a mall where all the brands I usually wear were available for purchase.
- I really wanted to get it done today :)
- Once I found something I really liked and what felt right, I bought it.
There you have it: outcome visioning, limitations (time and place) and trust into intuitive decisions. Pure GTD, right?
26 2 / 2012
Fun / creativity / recreation
A good list of areas to check from David Allen.
This issue of “David’s food for thought” also has a list of questions that are helpful when doing an annual review, which is a bit overdue for me. Oh well…