Three Ways I Stay In Control of My Crazy Busy Life

Pro(ductivity) Tip# 72

Key Ideas:

  1. Centralize to-do lists
  2. Get it out of my head and into my system
  3. Increase my touches

For anything to happen in our lives we have to control our energy. We have to control the activities that we are involved in. I’ve been seeking ways to do this and am always open to new ideas. In my search for better ways to work I stumbled across a book by David Allen called Getting Things Done. For me this book transformed how I viewed the work that I am in to how I manage my task lists. Three things that I do differently and I feel have made all the difference:

1.Centralize to-do lists

I didn’t realize it until I read Allen’s book that I had vast amounts of information and tasks. strewn across many different repositories and systems. I had to make up my mind to just pick one or two resources that I was going to use to manage all of my to do lists and important reference materials. Centralization equals speak and with centralization I will be plagued with ambiguity regarding where my information resides, making it difficult for me retrieve the right information at the right time.

I decided to choose Wunderlist and Evernote. Wunderlist is a cloud based task creating tool. You can create, group and share lists seamlessly. You can move individual tasks to different lists as well as collaborate to create and update list.

Evernote is like my own personal online filing system or knowledge base. I love it because I can quickly create and store notes for future retrieval. I can also capture information that I come across on the web and file it away for review at a later date.

I particularly find the tagging system to be useful in keeping my notes well-organized. This tool also provides me with the capability to share and collaborate with others in the creation of notes.

Both Wunderlist and Evernote have an app and web versions providing a high degree of accessibility. T

2. Out of my head and into my system

What I mean by this is that everything that is important to remember I remember it by placing with Wunderlist or Evernote. I do not as I once did in my youth try to remember everything in my head. When I was younger I thought this was no problem I could easily do it. Even though this was a lie I still believed in the fantasy. As I became older I realized just the absurdity of this belief, especially as my responsibilities grew in volume and complexity.

With 1000 things to do it’s impossible for me to remember 1000 things to do.

So getting it out of my head and into my system was liberating for me. Once I had my centralized tools in place it was easy for me to quickly update my lists as to do’s arose. I was able to quickly save and even categorize all the little bits of information that I needed to refer later. That bill that needs to paid that contract that needed to be read, I could stay on top of it all with my tools.

Just a small change in my behavior allowed me to be more flexible accurate and on point with what I needed to accomplish day by day. The side benefit in this small behavior is that I became more relaxed. I wasn’t stressed. I wasn’t walking around constantly trying to remember all the things that I needed to get done. Getting things out of my head into my system allowed me to just be. David Alan refers to often mind like water, which is described as the ability to be calm, in control and flow from one life activity to the next with little stress and maximum productivity. I can’t say that I have quite yet hit this level of Zen but I feel like I’m on the path.

3. Increase your touches

So the glue to making all of this work as I learned is that I had to increase my touches. Basically I had to review my lists and. reference materials regularly. Familiarity leads to comfort and competence. The more I see something the more I become aware of its qualities. When I knew what tasks I needed to accomplish and the projects I needed to make progress on I was able to be more productive.

I found it helpful to review on a daily basis my important tasks and on a weekly basis list of important projects. This systematic approach liberated me from obsessing over my ambiguous mental to-do list. A detailed review set to a regular cadence was critical to helping me keep the main thing the main thing.

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