Following on from Monday’s post on Procrastination, let’s look at how to get everything out of your head and into a system.
Step 1 – The Mind Sweep
Start by downloading everything out of your head on to paper or a note on your computer. This will help relieve overwhelm and initiate the action required to stop procrastinating and start getting things done. Imagine you have just bought a new computer and you need to do a backup and download all information from your old computer to restore it onto the new computer. Our goal is to download everything from your mind and organize it into to system out of your head. Your personal computer will no longer be used for storing data, it will only be used for processing information and of course coming up with amazingly creative plans and ideas.
As David Allen says “Your mind is for having ideas not for holding them”
Take a pen and paper or open a note on your computer and start writing, all tasks, responsibilities, ideas and dreams. Leave no plan or idea unwritten. Keep writing until you run out of ideas. If you need some prompting download this Trigger Sheet adapted from David Allen’s book Getting Things Done®. This will help you to pull everything out of the recesses of your brain.
Step 2 – Breathe
Now Breathe and appreciate the feeling. Your brain is now empty well a little less burdened. Feel young and free if even for a moment.
Step 3 – Process and Organize
Now all the information that you have written down needs to be processed and organized into a system so that it will get done and not be forgotten about. Take each item on the list and start to processes, ask yourself what is it? What needs to be done with it? What is the next action that needs to be taken to move forward with this item.
Step 4 – Calendar or Task List
Is the item date or time specific? If it is it must go into your calendar to be carried out at a particular date or time. If it is not it goes into your tasks list. Any item that will take more than 15 minutes to complete should go into your calendar to ensure there is sufficient time to complete it. Not all tasks have to be scheduled for the current week. If they are not urgent spread them out over the next couple of weeks.
If you follow the GTD system it is wise to categorize your tasks. Group all tasks that are related to a certain project together, depending on what task management system you use these can be tagged or categorized.
Recommended task management systems
If you are a mac user Onmifocus is mother of all systems
Other popular ones for Mac or PC are:
- Remember the Milk (You just have to love the name)
- Wunderlist (Part of the Wunderkit Kit)
There are tons more but these are the ones that I have used and can recommend Note: I haven’t used Onmifocus as it is only available for Mac but it is a system that comes highly recommended by a lot of the productivity geeks and ninjas out there.
The trick with a task management system is to choose one and stick to it, they all work, what doesn’t work is when we have two or three on the go and forget which one we are currently using. (I don’t know anyone who would do this ! )
Step 5 – Next Action
Some of the items on your list will be too large and you may not know how to move forward with them. With a larger project you need to focus on the next action. If you plan to renovate a room at home, what is the next thing you need to do to move this project forward? If you have to call somebody, put that action in your task system to move it forward. When that step is complete plan the next step so that your project will constantly be moving forward.
Step 6 – Email
Treat your email the same as your downloaded items. Each item can either be scheduled or put into your task list. If you don’t need to take any further action with the email decide if it needs to be filed or kept for reference. More on inbox zero coming soon.
Step 7 – Review
The first time you do a mind sweep will be the most difficult as you will have a lot of tasks that need to be defined and processed. If you take the time to do this once a week you will find that less tasks are downloaded each time and it is and easier and less time consuming process to keep your actions and tasks under control. The relief that comes from knowing everything is under control and that you haven’t forgotten about anything is priceless. Well worth the small investment of time.
Now that it is all done you can breathe and feel satisfied that all will get done now that it is in your system.
Please comment below with any questions you may have on processing or organizing your tasks.
Photo Credit:Organising Myself by Beachc0mer