Capture everything that needs to get done (whether big or small, whether now or later) in a logical system outside of your head.
You might have made a list when feeling overwhelmed - what if you did that all the time, with everything?
Work projects today 'have no edges', and jobs don't have clear descriptions. In response to this, we gotta be good at cutting and defining our tasks well. The task is not given; it has to be worked out. The outcome is not given; it has to be thought out.
In other words, it is your responsibility to take everything that appears on your horizon and define/clarify what it means to you in practise.
A system needs to
- More energy
- More relaxed
- More savouring, because your mind isn't elsewhere
- Get the boring necessary shit out of the way as quickly as possible
- Make sure that the stuff your time is spent on = the important stuff. If you're free to do what you want with your time, you have the responsibility to do the 'best' thing at that time.
Imagine what it would be like to be totally focused and flow through your workday. Just imagine it!
People will trust you, and think you are reliable. This is good for social network and reputation.
- Integrate the big picture with the nuts-and-bolts
- Funnel hundreds of bits of information into a logical system
- Save more time than it takes to maintain
- Make things easier
- If you're committed to something, but not 'on it', it pulls a little bit of your focus away from you. Do this a lot and you wind up anxious and distracted.
- Therefore, you simply need to take whatever commitment comes up, funnel it into a system that organizes your action and do what needs to be done.
- If you think of something to do, and don't capture it or do it, then the only alternative is to worry about it.
- It's a system for managing your commitments, turning them into things that are done.
- If it's on your mind, your mind's not clear. So get it into your system, outside your mind, where it won't get lost
- Decide exactly what the commitment is, what action it requires from you
- Remind yourself of that action at the right time.
Small-picture and big-picture
Taking care of the little things that arise (e.g. emails coming in) frees you up to focus on the big things like your projects.
- Collect. Do this for everything - big or little, urgent or for later.
- Have an app or pad of paper, or both, that are fun to brainstorm with.
- Everything that comes up must go in here, not your head
- This can be done with more than one tool (e.g. paper + email) but a few as possible
- Must be emptied regularly. (Emptying means moving it into step 2)
- Define & clarify what it means
- If actionable, ask two questions:
- What project have you committed to? (Put it on the project list.)
- What's the next task? Now put that task on the task list (unless it's less than 2 minutes)
- Keep a task list for everyone you want to work with e.g. a 'With Shane' list
- Keep a 'To Read' list and chew through this on he bus, waiting etc.
- If not actionable, do one of three things:
- File (notes)
- Set reminder to review it later
- Review things so you can make a choice of the best thing to do
- Do it. Choose using the 4-factor model:
- What you can do in that place
- What you can do with the time available to you
- What you can do with the energy you have. (When you feel unenergetic, have something easy, but nonetheless productive, to do.)
Sync the project list with the task list by defining next-actions for each project
- Decide when and where to act
Keeping the flow
- Balance the brass-tacks and the vision
- If people are excited, but nothing's getting done, define tasks
- If people are running around like headless chickens, define projects and goals
- A clear, attractive desk. All you need is an empty space, laptop, inbox.
- A good set-up leaves you prepared to take advantage of unexpected windows of opportunity
- Have filing cabinet within arm's reach
- One A-Z system, not multiple ones (e.g. for each project)
- Have a bunch of fresh folders and labels ready-to-hand
- Sync this with task list at the weekly review
- Subdivide it with indented sub-projects
'Some day, maybe' lists
- Alternatively, you can use a calendar - remind yourself in 2 months to consider learning the flute.
Checklists at all levels
- "Making lists ad hoc as they occur to you is one of the most powerful yet subtlest & simplest procedures that you can install in your life."
- When you sit down to tasks, have your checklist in front of you.
- It's about resetting to 'clear'
- Miscellaneous gathered notes get into the system.
- Look back on the week's meetings etc. for notes etc. that grew out of them
- Look at the calendar ahead to make sure you're prepared for everything
- Check projects list and make sure tasks mesh with projects
- Check 'some day, maybe', lists
- Empty your head
- Occasionally (not weekly) go up to questions of Vision and Grand Purpose