How I Get Organized [en]

[fr] Comment je m'organise, quels outils et méthodes me conviennent. Ces temps, un doux mélange de GTD et de FlyLady, avec des petites cartes éparpillées sur mon bureau pour garder en vue mes tâches prochaines, une minuterie réglée sur 15 minutes pour les gros projets ou les choses qui n'avancent pas, Buxfer pour mes finances et une certaine régularité dans mon rythme de vie.

index cards 2.0 These days, for the first time in a long time, I feel on top of things. I’ve caught up with almost all the backlog I accumulated by being sick for a month and deleting my blog by mistake. So, I thought I’d jot down some notes on how I get organized.

To my shame, I’ve never 100% implemented GTD (particularly the daily/weekly reviews), but reading the book and putting one or two systems in place has been very helpful to me. Over the last two years, I’ve used index cards (very briefly), mindmaps, iGTD, Things, more mindmaps, notebooks, and currently, more index cards. And Evernote. Here are a few words about each method.

  • index cards, version 1: when I started implementing GTD and read the book in 2006, I put all my stuff on index cards and pinned them on cork boards. It didn’t last long, I think it was just physically too cumbersome.
  • iGTD: iGTD was nice, and I used it for quite some time. I had a hard time figuring out my contexts (and sub-contexts). I had an eye-opening moment when I realised that planning tasts in project mode was really helpful (for Going Solo, for example).
  • notebooks: when things became too stressful before Going Solo, I took a notebook and listed all the stuff I needed to take care of on a page. When things were done, I crossed them out. When new things were added, I added them. When the page was too messy, I copied over what was left of the list to a clean page. This worked really really well for me — I still do it at times.
  • Things: I really liked Things. Compared to iGTD, it didn’t suffer from feature creep. I liked the way it organised things by tags. But for some reason (maybe because it’s an application on the computer?) I stopped using it (again, when things got too “urgent” in my life — after SoloCamp last autumn).
  • mindmaps: I used mindmaps at two points in my life, and one was actually before reading GTD. I like the fact that I can organise my tasks in “sectors”, and fold away branches I’m not concentrating on right now. One thing I would tend to do with my mind map is have a branch called “next” to help me focus on immediate stuff.
  • index cards 2.0: what’s been working for me these last few weeks is tiny index cards on which I write stuff I mustn’t forget or need to take care of. I put these on my desk (because I now work at my desk, a big change from the last years). And on my desk, I can pull out the 3-6 things I’m going to do today (some rocks, some pebbles), and basically spread them out and group them any way I like (it’s often quite intuitive rather than officially organised — though the separation between “now” and “later” stands).
  • Evernote: I use Evernote for some of my lists, which tended up to clutter up any kind of system I used to keep track of all my next actions: books to buy, films to see, shopping lists. I also use Evernote to capture stuff I need to add to my desk of index cards.

All these tools work for me, to varying extents, and in varying situations. The system I use now (index cards 2.0, evernote, and some notebook-lists) works well for “immediate” stuff, but it’s missing someday/maybe items.

Now, aside from the tools, here are some elements of my method — some combination of GTD and FlyLady. Here are my main take-aways:

  • thinking in terms of next actions has really helped me differentiate between projects and to-do items (GTD)
  • having an inbox on my desk (a big big basket) to collect incoming stuff and an A-Z storage system with hanging folders (GTD)
  • separating “processing time” from actual “doing time” (GTD again)
  • using the power of 15 minutes (a day! with a timer!) to make progress on daunting projects or stuff I just can’t get started on (cleaning the flat, processing the GTD-inbox to zero, stuff I’m so behind on I can’t even think of it) (FlyLady)
  • putting in place routines to give some structure to my days (an office and alarms on my iPhone help) — including not working all the time! (FlyLady)

Another element I’m really proud of is that I finally have all my finances under control. Last autumn, things were looking pretty grim, between the state of my bank account, the number of bills I had to pay, and no work lined up. My brother patiently helped me keep my head out of water (“so, here’s what’ll come in, in which bills it’ll pay”) during the end of last year, and when eclau opened, I started keeping track of all income and expenses related to it all by myself (a Google spreadsheet can do wonders to get started). Early this year, I opened a Buxfer account and am using it to track all my income and expenses (professional and personal). The wonderful thing about Buxfer is that they have an iPhone-ready site, so I can log my expenses literally the minute I spend the money. This means I’m never (or rarely) behind in doing my accounting.

I think this shows that one should never be afraid to ask for help in getting organised or getting some parts of one’s life under control — and I’d put buddy-working under that same heading. It’s often much easier to do things with other people’s company and support, rather than try to do everything alone.

Similar Posts:

8 thoughts on “How I Get Organized [en]

  1. I had never heard of Going Solo before, it looks like a very interesting site, thanks for the tip. I use Evernote but I have found over the years that a good old fashioned paper notebook works for me. I carry one around everywhere and keep to-do lists and notes. I use a moleskin when I travel to reduce the size and weight of what I carry. Mindmaps are fantastic too and I have recently started using a great iphone app called iBlueSky – you may like that too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *