Chapter 2: “Getting Control of Your Life: The Five Stages of Mastering Workflow. Today will be Part 1.
To gain control over our work, we must (1) collect all things that need doing, (2) process what to do about each thing, (3) “organize the results”, (4) “review as options for what we choose to (5) do. Mr. Allen suggests separating these stages as we move through our day. He says do each as the mood strikes.
However, I say if you want to get your life under control and get things done, you must do each item as fast as you can. If you do one particular step out of the five during one part of the day and the rest later, will we ever get anything accomplished? I just know how I love to put things off.
I mean, if time is the problem, then by all means, collect this hour, then process and do the rest later, but if you do have the time (I know how scattered I can be and if I am going to take control, I need to do all steps as soon as possible), do each step now.
Of course, it’s impossible to do if you work full-time, run after a family and a household. With all we have to do, already, it’s amazing we can add anything else to our to-do list. My suggestion for each of those five items? Take 5-6 minutes per item. Collect for 6 minutes. Then process for 6, and so on. I feel certain if we did that, we’d get more accomplished (at least with one stack of papers in our inbox per day). I’m sure I could free up just 30 minutes somewhere between early morning and evening. Get up a little earlier or stay up a little later. 30 minutes is not a lot of time, but it does allow time to get something done and if I could stay focused . . . I’ll try this today and let you know how that one goes.
Ok, so – collect: It’s ok that we have our list of things we need to do (for today, the week, the month, sometime during our lifetime) and it’s fine to put these things in order of priority. I like to split my (daily) list into 3 parts (morning, mid-day and evening), and number my items by importance during each of those 3 parts. Most importantly, we need to set out those actions needing to be taken. My problem is that I’ve listed all this crap I need to do and haven’t decided how much time it will actually take to do each thing, so I put so much on my daily list, there is no possible way to get all those things done in a 24-hour time span. Do I purposely thwart all chances of getting things done? I’m not some superperson who can move through time and space in a blink, so why do I plan so much during one day?
So, here is what I propose for myself: Make my collection bucket, or inbox and list all those things on my computer file. I have placed a table in my word document with 3 columns. I have 3 separate tables (1) a.m., (2) mid-day, (3) evening. First column is how much time it will take to do that item, second column is the item AND the action or steps I need to go through to complete, and third, a box to mark upon completion. After that, I go back to the first column and decide if I have time to complete each item and plan it to the minute (5:00-5:15), or I just number each item by importance (1, 2, 3) and if I have too much planned, I move it to another time frame if it has to be done that day, or move it to another day altogether, if it can wait. This worked so great for me yesterday! I X’ed out over 13 items! It’s just nice to look at my list at the end of the day and see how much I’ve accomplished. Of course, there’s plenty still needing to be done, so I just move it to the following day or days of the week, trying not to move it forward more than 3 days, if it does need to get done fairly quickly.
It’s also nice to have a Master List of every single thing you need to do from now until eternity. That way, it’s out of your head (as Mr. Allen suggests we do), and we can give each item a time frame, such as today, this week, April or 2012. Then, we can drag some of these items around and plug them in to your days and mark them off as complete when they are done or delete it. I print out my to-do list each morning after I’ve revised it.
I am trying not to overwhelm myself, by leaving plenty of time during my day for other to-do items that may pop up from out of nowhere, as we never know what will actually pop up, distracting us from our to-do list.
Collection bucket tools: ways of collecting our incompletes or in-basket: “physical in basket, paper based note-taking devices, electronic note-taking devices, voice recording devices and e-mail.”
The physical in basket is “magazines, memos, notes, phone slips, receipts, even flashlights with dead batteries.”
Paper-based: writing paper and pads, loose-leaf notebooks, spiral binders, steno and legal pads.
What to do with the collection of items: 3 requirements for success: (1) all open loops must be in a collection system and out of your head, (2) have as few collection buckets as you can get by with, (3) empty them regularly. Emptying the bucket doesn’t mean to complete it all daily, just decide what action to take, organize it into some sort of system, DON’T put it back into the stack from which it came, downstream it from there, which means process, and that, we will cover more, tomorra.
Make it a magnificent Monday, if that is possible. Me? I would actually like to go back to bed. 6 hours of sleep is for the birds! I am fueled better with 8 or 9. I should be used to this by now.
Love you guys! *hug*