I am naturally a big picture guy – details don’t come naturally to me. I discovered David Allen’s book Getting Things Done some years ago, and now loosely organize myself along his principles.
In a nutshell, GTD is all about getting tasks out of your brain on paper, and forcing yourself to think in terms of "next actions" – what is the next step that has to happen. Thinking this way required some retraining of my brain some years back, but now it comes fairly naturally.
Our culture has too much "stuff" and that bleeds over to the workplace and our personal lives. One statistic found that, “The average desk worker has 36 hours worth
of work on their desk and wastes up to 3 hours a week just “looking”
for STUFF!” I have set up my office to avoid this probelm by forcing myself to apply GTD principles to every piece of information that is actionable: do I DO this, DELEGATE this, or DEFER this. I have included this picture of my desktop to illustrate my organization principles (and no, I didn’t clean it for the photo!):
- My desk has no drawers – this forces me to sort mail/notes/messages as they arrive and Do something with it, Delegate it, or Defer it (or throw it away).
- I keep one inbox on my desk. This forces me to get rid of notes, index cards, stickies – it all goes in the one basket which I go through regularly (it can’t hold all that much buildup!).
- I keep two pads of paper – one has ongoing message/project research that has yet to be entered into the Mac, the other is a master "To-Do" list that gets entered daily… so it is fresh each day. I use Gmail’s GTD system to track projects and To Do’s, paired with iCal.
- My Blackberry is sitting on my Mac… all todos and appointments have ticklers attached, so my Crackberry 🙂 will remind me. My assistant Brent handles all reminders not applicable for my Blackberry.
- Even though I read a lot, a maximum of two books sit on my desk (unless I am actually studying). Other reading material that comes in either goes in the inbox, or I have it scanned in for reading later on my Mac. I delegate a lot of reading material to an assistant (who then writes up a short brief)so that TWO of us know what is going on!
- My BIG HDTV monitor was a gift from a good friend in Texas – thanks!!!!
- I use fountain pens and lots of highlighters… I keep two fountain pens on my desk – everything else in my briefcase. I can only use one writing instrument at a time – so why have 15?
- In other words – nothing goes on my desk except the essentials. It forces me to be efficient… and helps me GTD!