But first, let’s just admit that personal productivity is one of those phrases that’s been used and abused. We hear the word and immediately conjure up images of amazing multi-taskers: those people who drive while listening to audiobooks, eat while reading something, and even yes, figure out a way to get an extra project done while going to the loo.
This is not what I’ll share about.
To get to where I am (which is just a notch above no system) I’ve gone through a little journey. I attempted to read THE book on getting things done: Getting Things Done. However, I got lost in the quite involved process on how to prepare to get things done. Failure.
I also tried and tested several software programs and iphone apps such as Remember the Milk, and others, but I was never able to stick to them. Epic failure.
Most recently I’ve just been creating little “notes” on my mac mail program. Here’s what it looks like:
It’s really simple and it works. But I found some tools that work better.
So here’s my high tech solution for getting things done. A notebook.
But not just any notebook, a Moleskin notebook. They’re simple and indestructible. Plus, they look pretty cool, so that takes care of that. For a simple series with more info on how you might use one click here. I carry this with me everywhere. If I need to take notes on the fly, I write it down in here. Write a quick to do list while away from my mac. In it goes. In a board meeting and need to take notes. In it goes.
Here’s a pic of my notebook and a few things I jotted down today:
David Allen, of Gettings Things Done fame, talks about how many people remain really stressed out because there are lots of tasks floating around in their heads (he calls them “open loops”) that they have to do, but then they forget them without writing them down. The first step he talks about is dumping all the info into a “bucket.” This notebook is my bucket. If I hear a nice quote or get a blog post idea, I write it inside here. I think one of the reasons this notebook works so well is because, for me, it’s the central repository for info. No scraps of paper. No stickies. Just the one notebook.
By the way, here’s a great hack for how to carry a pen with your moleskin. It works!
So that’s step number one.
Step number two is just as easy: Google Tasks. The reason this works so great is because it’s super simple and you can open up a task window from inside your gmail. If you don’t use gmail, it’s time to stop being lame and begin. It’s the best email system out there period. Not hotmail. Or yahoo. It’s gmail. Ok, sorry….enough.
So what I’ve been doing is at the end of a day, I’ll open up a new task box that I will work on the next day. I spend a minute evaluating what didn’t get done, and then adding in what I have to work on for the next day. If I’m on the computer and think of something, I quickly go to the window and add it. And best of all, if I have to hit the road, the tasks come with me “virtually” on my iphone through the Google Task app. This is the same principle as just writing out a simple to do list in my notebook, but I type quicker than I write, so I prefer to do it there.
So that’s it. Nothing too special. But it’s a system that’s simple and has been working for me. The key is just about writing things down in a central location.
What about you? What’s been working for you? How do you get things done?
[image by fuchsphoto]