As I write these words there’s only 47 days left of 2018 – where on earth did the time go?
And for many if not all of us, 2019 (like every other year) is going to include tasks that we need to achieve – whether they’re imposed by a client, a boss, a family member, or even ourselves.
So why not make 2019 the year you master your to-do list once and for all?
Over the next 7 weeks I’m going to publish a series of articles outlining a productivity system that has helped me reach much greater heights of effectiveness and efficiency than ever before.
For example, after implementing this system into my life I wrote a book in 3 months whilst
- working full-time;
- staying fit through regular exercise;
- keeping involved with family and friends;
- completing a Masters level unit of study; and
- starting a second, part-time business.
I say this not to boast about how busy I am but to make it clear that without this productivity system there’s no way I could have done all this.
An unexpected benefit though has been how much more in the moment I feel. I used to spend so much time worrying about what I was supposed to be doing, or what I was forgetting to do, or planning the next activity/conversation/email, that I was never really present with my family or my friends. Even when I was just by myself trying to relax, I had an angry monkey constantly chattering at the back of my head, reminding me that I had ‘things’ to do.
Now, I know that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, when I’m supposed to be doing it and I can relax fully and experience that activity.
My hope in sharing this system with you is that you’ll experience that same sense of relief and increase in productivity.
So What Is This System?
There are a lot of productivity systems or frameworks out there. They range from the simple ones that use a paper calendar and a post it note outlining the top 5 or 10 things you need to do today to the ones that use quadrants and colours to grade urgency and importance for everything you need to do at work.
And there’s the problem.
99% of these productivity systems are designed to help you get more productive at work. But we don’t just need to do things for work, we need to do things for our family and friends, we need to finish tasks around the house, and yes, we even need to achieve goals for ourselves.
I’ve tested this system on slow work days, on days when I’ve been ill, and on days when I’ve been juggling 100 balls before 10am, and then been given the 101st ball to juggle as well after lunch. And it’s come through with flying colours!
Essentially I’ve made the mistakes, pulled my hair out, and gotten up after multiple falls, so you won’t have to!
There are two principles to this productivity system:
1 – all commitments are kept in the one spot
2 – all commitments are sorted by urgency
And that’s it! Simple right? Well, like most simple things it takes a bit of getting used to.
First – All commitments in the one spot
We get a lot of inputs during a day – meetings; email; text messages; instant messaging; voice mail; even a coffee shop conversation can result in a task for us.
Trying to keep track of all those tasks is futile unless you have one trusted spot to keep them all in.
In this system, that trusted spot is Google’s Keep Notes application – yes, even emails will end up being tracked in this application. No more using your inbox as a catch-all for tasks; reference emails; cat gifs or “not sure what this is, but I’m keeping it anyway” emails.
Second – All commitments are sorted by urgency
There’s lots of ways to sort one’s tasks outs – this particular system requires you to only make one decision essentially.
Does the task HAVE to be done today or can it wait?
Once you’ve made that decision then it’s simply a matter of filing the task appropriately so you see it when necessary.
So, we are going to be using one single discriminator to prioritise tasks: urgency.
If a task must be completed today then it is categorised as “Must Do Today”. If a task should be completed in the next 10 days it is categorised as “Might Do Today” and if it can wait more than 10 days before being actioned then it is categorised as “Over the Horizon”.
We’ll discuss how to add labels and use Google Keep in much more detail later in this series, but for now you just need to remember there’s two principles to the system:
- everything in one place
- tasks are sorted by urgency.
Got a comment / question? Leave it below or get in touch separately!