How Do You Get It All Done?


Cover of "Making It All Work: Winning at ...

Cover via Amazon

The mind is disorganised and that’s just the way it works. Brains are not designed to create order in your life. They need some help.

How many of these statements apply to you?

  • You think about something that needs doing, then forgot about it a few minutes later.
  • You put small objects down in the house such as car keys or glasses and cannot find them a few hours later
  • You are introduced to someone and then forget what their name is
  • You say yes to lots of things and find that the day is too short to do them all
  • You are working on your computer and find that you have been surfing the Internet aimlessly for the last two hours
  • You find that you cannot get enough done and find yourself working long hours

If one or more of these statements describes you then you need help in organising your life.

I’ve just finish reading the book Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and Business of Life by David Allen. In this book he looks at how to keep your life organised. An organised life reduces stress considerably.

If you lead a busy life whether through your job or the demands of your family, you are faced with a large amount of things to do. There are three basic processes that confront you when dealing with what needs to be done:

  • Gathering
  • Thinking
  • Organizing

Unless you have some sort of system to deal with these processes, then you could feel overloaded and overwhelmed. David Allen is the inventor of the Getting Things Done  system, also known by its acronym GTD. GTD looks at the above three processes and suggests ways in which you can deal with them.

The first process, gathering things, is done very simply. You sit down and write down either on paper or on a computer, all the things that you need to deal with.

You then think about what to do with each item. You do it, delegate it to someone else, defer it to be done later,  store it or trash it.

The next phase is to organize the doing of your next actions. The way David Allen does this is to organize things in context. A context is usually a physical location. For example, the context computer is where all the actions that need a computer are done. The context home is, at its name suggests, things that need to be done around the home. Other contexts could be calls (by the telephone), errands (shopping taking the dry cleaning in, posting a letter and so on), office (dealing with letters and papers in your in tray). These contexts are not fixed and can be adapted to your lifestyle.

What is good about the GTD method is that it is flexible and designed to be adapted to what suits you best.

This has been a brief summary of GTD.  For more information go to David’s site

Because I am a computer person I prefer to use a computer system for GTD  – but many people find a pencil and notebook adequate.

I’ve recently started using Devonthink which suits the way I work.  The publishers describe the software as:

“DEVONthink is the one database for all your digital files, a practical, powerful document manager that uses built-in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help you collect and organize everything from emails to PDFs, whether they’re located on your Mac or on the web.”

My computer, like my life can get quite disorganised if I don’t use some sort of system. With Devonthink I collect and classify all my files so that I know where everything is. I also use it to manage my favourite websites, contacts and my research and reference documents.  It also sorts out my tasks using GTD methods. What I like about the program is the ability to adapt it to my style of working. I suspect that no two users of the program use it in the exact way.

Sorry PC users, this is a MAC only program at present. PC users could try Ultra Recall as an alternative.

So whatever system you use, paper and pen or computer I recommend that you at least use a system. There are many aids out there –  Filofax type manual systems as well as organizer software. You need to do some research to find out the one that suits you.

Once you have a system up and running  then empty as much of your brain into it as possible.  You will then find that  your life seems more relaxed, more freer. You sit at your computer, turn to the list of to do’s in your computer context list, and just start getting them done!

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  1. I’ve known GTD before and I’ve been using it ever since. What I like about GTD is the fact that it’s so easy to understand. It’s a three step process. And when you get things organized, you’ll begin to notice that your life is starting to get organized too. By this method, you won’t worry about things too much. Use this to organize your life and try to live a very stress-free life. Anyway, thanks a lot for sharing this!

  2. mdorantesg on December 10, 2012 amazing tips!!! Time mneegamant can be extremely hard for some people like me? that have problem planifying. Thank you so much fos sharing this!

  3. Time management is always the issue with these kinds of things. On that note this book has actually been a great help in that regard. Especially with the steps towards using GTD.


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