Getting Things Done
Written by: David Allen
Papers, papers, papers. Projects, to-do lists, things you want to do someday, phone calls to make, appointments to go to. Just how are we supposed to keep all this straight in our minds and not forget something important? How can we control the paper monster that threatens to take over? With all the things we must do each day, we need a system that we can rely upon. May I introduce you to an author that has been successful in coaching many executives to a clearer mind and workstation? David Allen has written the 267 page long book Getting Things Done.
I have only recently been told about this book by my other “love to organize things” sister but I have already put his system in place. You see, I was getting overwhelmed by all the papers I had floating around. Papers I wanted to keep but where should I put them? I had papers sitting on my desk to remind me that I needed to do some follow-up on them. Facing this kind of mess day in and day out can really wear a person down. After all, where do you work? I usually would push one pile aside while working on another, or I would place my new set of papers/books on top of the old. Sometimes I had to peer around the stack to see my computer screen. I had a serious need to get this part of my life together.
David Allen addresses everything I mentioned at the start of this post. To-do lists, projects, papers you want to keep for reference and any other problem you have with paper and mental clutter.
Although I am thrilled to have found this book, I must say I found the book to be somewhat confusing to read. The first half is an overview of the system and the second half is how to implement it. I read some of the first half but I just wanted to get to organizing my stuff – not only read about it, so I moved to the second half. Some of it I did not understand how to fully work until I went back and read the needed parts in the beginning of the book. Maybe if I had read it in order it would have been okay but really I think it should have flowed together a little more smoothly.
Some of the steps David Allen will have you do is set up a filing system. He recommends the A-Z system. With this system if you have a paper that you want to keep for reference but that needs no action, you need to file it under the letter it belongs to. For instance, I have a list of music teachers in our area that I placed in the T folder.
Another step is to have a tickler file. A tickler file is one in which you have folders for each month of the year and then individual folders numbered 1-31. Having a system like this is like mailing yourself something. You look at the file that is today’s date and if there is anything in there you must either take action on it, defer it or delegate it. An example from my files… I have a coupon that is good for November 18-21. I placed the coupon in folder 18. Now when I look at this folder and coupon I can decide if I want to place an order from this company or not. Maybe I’m still not sure so I can even feel free to defer it to the 19th and place it in that folder.
The tickler file and A-Z file system are two of the basic steps presented in Getting Things Done but there are answers to all your other paper problems, too. He writes about project lists, someday/maybe lists and next action lists. You do not need to have everything paper-based either. You could also set yourself up on Microsoft Outlook or some other digital device.
But of course, as with any system, you must stick with it. Mr. Allen recognizes this and so to keep everything running smoothly you must review your lists at least once weekly.
In conclusion, if you also have too many things on your mind, are not taking action on things that really need to be done, do not know what to do with all your papers – you really need to get this book. David Allen also has a website here.