Being organized and managing projects is not as hard as you think. In fact, there is an entire approach called Getting the Things Done or GTD, originally created by David Allen.
You can define this method in 5 steps:
- Handle it now!
The purpose of the Getting the Things Done method is to provide more clarity and creativity. After all the tasks are defined, examined and documented, all of the incomplete loops in your mind should be on paper or in a software system. That's where the first step in the game comes into play. Gathering and collecting means to put everything you've got pending, such as to-dos, tasks, open the promises & commitments, into a collection system. This is a paper listing or a software tool. Most people prefer the electronic approach since you can take it anywhere or access it from any computer.
When you've got everything written down (on paper or in a system) you need to process it. Go through your items & manage outstanding to-do items. This step is key to success in Getting the Things Done. The first thing to consider, is it practical? Can you do anything with it? If not, then it will be filed as a reference, or maybe something to deal with in the future or it should be trashed. Do not be afraid to trash items. If the object is a measure of it, so you should decide is this something that should be done now or it may be scheduled for later, or will you delegate that to someone else, or you just do it. The rule that David Allen has put down is that if the task takes less than 2 minutes, you should just do it. If it takes longer time, set a time or date to get it done.
Next step is to organize. Things to be trashed should be treated of. What's to be stored out of sight is to be done. Things that are in the Someday or Maybe category are archived. Things that are quickly deal with should be done ASAP. This is an area you can use various tools, your computer to the Getting the Things Done by the Software, files, various management plans, & maybe even a mind map. Start using your creativity here.
There is also a review stage. The stage for Review should be done Daily, Weekly, & on other occasions. Daily, you should review your tickler file for your calendar, your to do list & waiting for items you've saved. Weekly, review projects, any files, organize all loose things from meetings or other record, & finally do a complete Mind Sweep to clear your head.
Finally the most important part of any organizational setting is the DO stage. Actually accomplish the work you've defined. You should be as David Allen puts it, "do it in the moment, guided by intuition, supported by the 4 previous sentences, & is influenced by the reality of the situation today." You can order your tasks by context, by the time available, the available energy, & finally by priority. Alternately, you can do a single task at any time. In defining your work, do things as they appear (usually it's the urgent things).
You can also define your work based on David Allen's plane analogy. A runway holds current actions, at ten thousand feet you've your current projects, at 20,000 feet you've your responsibilities, at 30,000 feet you've got your 1 to two-year goals, at 40,000 feet you have your 3-5 year vision, & end of 50,000 feet, you've your overall life plan.
Some important tips to the methodology of Getting the Things Done:
Always have a set of tools to:
- Collect stuff and only use your inbox. Do not collect stuff elsewhere.
- Decide your outcomes & Next Actions as soon as things appear
- Do two mins of action immediately (if you ever think you'll do them)
- End Meeting by refining results, Next Actions, & who's responsible
- Use your calendar for things you really going to do that day, as the actual appointments & meetings
- Use verbs to your duties as Project Build Plan to start or schedule the meeting limit
- Make a weekly report weekly
Using a software system will help you tremendously to define your tasks, contacts, projects & calendar. There are various software systems available. Ideally it would have Next Actions, Contexts, calendar, projects, & ability to organize & arrange the tasks at will. Find out more about Getting the Things Done and how to improve your organizational skills at http://www.Software-for-Project-Management.info .
All the credit for this method goes to David Allen, the innovator of GTD.