Without telling a lot of people, I implemented an unofficial Getting Things Done (GTD) strategy in my life. Not until months later did I hear there was a book by this name. I later read about the GTD time management process on the Zen Habits blog.
What I discovered during this process — and, yes, the process is ongoing — is that I felt better, I accomplished more and the house was cleaner because every little thing down to the recycled bread wrapper ties had a place in the house. Because the house and office were more organized and I did not spend time looking for things, I saved hours over the course of a week.
Here are my own made-up tips to GTD for your sanity and happiness.
- Write Up Your Tasks: Make two lists. The first list is what’s the most pressing. These items can be done right away. Make sure you give yourself reasonable deadlines. Painting the house will take more than a day. Boxing up items for Goodwill may take only an hour. Your second list is for tasks that will take longer to accomplish or require outside help. Figure out what sucks up your energy, and take care of that first.
- Organize Your Work Area: Saving tax receipts was harder than it should have been for me. During my organization process, I created a folder where the receipts go. As soon as I can after making a purchase, I place the receipt into the proper manila folder. This will save me HOURS at tax time. How long have items been in your “in” box? Take care of them or file or recycle the papers if they’ve been sitting there too long.
- Clear Out Your House and Find Organizations That Can Use What You Don’t Need: Although you can box items up for your local thrift store, it can be more satisfying to send items directly to an organization that can give them to people who need them. Knowing my items were headed directly into the hands of people who needed them made me feel good.
- Pick Ten Items to Do Now: To give yourself a feeling of accomplishment, pick ten items you can take care of right away. For instance, you might find a place to put all of the incoming mail so it doesn’t sit around in piles. You could pick up a pile of books, stack the newspapers and put away drying dishes. You can clean out one junk drawer. Even small tasks like this can make your house look better and give you a lighter feeling.
- Find a Place for Everything: Grandma was right when she said: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” I save hours of time now that I’m not searching for tape and scissors. Again, figure out what wastes time for you — for me, it was locating scissors and tape after others had used them — and decide where these items will be kept once and for all and let everyone in your home know where they should be placed after use.
Think of “to-do” items that have been weighing you down. Do you need to return calls to potential clients? Is it time to fill your marketing pipeline? Are you bummed that an item needs painting? Has your garden become full of weeds when you weren’t looking? Make a big list of these items and then prioritize them in order of importance to you. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t all business related. Decided which you will do and which you will hire someone to do. Then, get cracking!
If you have additional ideas, please post them in the comments.