Organizing with “Getting Things Done”
People often ask me how I manage a full-time private practice, which is a job and a half, and a writing career. The answer I would want to give used to be, “not very well.” It wasn’t always that way. But in the past few years, all the tasks became too much for me to keep in my brain. I tried several methods. I bought a fancy planner. I went to office supply stores armed with a handful of receipts and delusions of organization. But I kept dropping the ball. When I flaked out on an author group takeover last month, I realized things need to change.
Earlier this spring, one of my clients recommended David Allen’s Getting Things Done (affiliate link). The premise is that our brains weren’t designed for holding tasks, but rather for doing them. It goes beyond the typical prioritization methods to both organize and prioritize. If you want a quick summary, here’s a video.
How did it go? Well, I first gathered the materials I needed, which ended up being a three-tiered tray, a bunch of folders, and…
…a label maker! Did I mention my delusions of organization?
Then I implemented the system. First, everything went into the in-box, and then got organized into the following categories:
Tasks – things that need to be done, also got put into schedule slots
Projects – bigger picture things that involve tasks, focusing on the next task that needs to be done
References – pretty self-explanatory
Toss/Recycle – ditto
While I did this, I did keep Marie Kondo’s principles of minimalism in mind. One of the things that stuck out from her book is that we keep way too much office paperwork, so I tried to be conscious of only keeping what I need.
I haven’t quite finished all of the Getting Things Done steps, and I find myself slipping into some old bad habits, but overall, I’m happy with what I’ve done so far. My motto with this, as with many things in life, is “Progress, not perfection.” One of the nice side benefits of implementing this system is that I came to the conclusion that if something wants a spot on my desk, it has to have a purpose. Consequently, I have a nice clean desk. And, overall, a much less cluttered mind.
In my Rogue Skies contribution The Art of Piracy, the hero describes the heroine upon first impression as “dreadfully composed.” She doesn’t need a fancy organizational system. How about you? What is your preferred organization method? Please comment below. To read The Art of Piracy and meet my heroine, preorder Rogue Skies today!