If you’re anything like me, you probably often feel that there is never enough time in the day. Between the day-to-day duties of running my own business, taking care of my son, shopping/cooking/laundry/cleaning, spending time with friends and working on the future of my business, well, there’s just never enough time to get it all done.
I think I manage my time pretty well. But I always feel like there’s room for improvement. So I turned to David Allen’s Getting Things Done.
What’s interesting about this book is that it’s not about time management. It’s about developing systems to make your time more efficiently spent.
I don’t know if this has happened to you before, but in the past, there have been times when I would check my email, and see something that maybe didn’t need to be taken care of right away, and thought, “I’ll do that later.” Then, a week later, while driving somewhere in the car, I’d suddenly remember that I’d forgotten to deal with it and panic!
David Allen helps you to create a system for dealing with your “stuff”, be it physical (pieces of paper, whatever), mental. or virtual (email). The joy of having this kind of system in place is what he calls “closing loops.” What that means, is, you can feel less stress, because you aren’t always going around thinking, “what is it that I forgot to do?” Allan’s system allows you to forget, knowing that you’re covered.
Here are a couple of tips I found particularly useful:
1. When dealing with your “stuff”, if a task can be completed in less than 2 minutes, just do it. If it can’t, file it away in a folder to be dealt with later, then go back and check that file at a prescribed time every week.
2. I now get my email in box to zero every Friday. I spend a couple of hours Friday morning going through every email in my in box. If I’ve dealt with them, I delete them, or if it’s important and I need to keep them, I file them in the appropriate file. If it’s something I’ve forgotten to deal with, this is where it gets done.
3. We often deal with large projects the wrong way. We look at what we want the end result to be, and then often feel overwhelmed, because we don’t know where to start. So, instead of writing to-do lists like “get car fixed” or “Michael’s birthday party”, ask yourself this question: “what is the first next thing I need to do to move this project along?” That might be, “call the mechanic and make an appointment” or “ask Michael’s teacher for a list of all the kids in his class.” This way, you are making progress, moving things along. You’re unstuck, which is what being overwhelmed tends to feel like.
I haven’t yet had time to put all of Allen’s suggestions into practice, as some of it takes quite a bit of time to get through. I am putting aside time over the next two weeks to get through it. Perhaps there will be a part two to this blog post….
I highly recommend this book.
Click here for David Allen’s website.
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