No, I have not read David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” which is where the acronym GTD derives its use today. It’s on my list, but after reading this Lifehacker article I guess I use a similar system. I only mention the above because that phrase came to me and I thought I was being original, but obviously not. Ha! If someone has an even better example, I prefer linking directly to the source.
Here’s how I get things done:
1) The Notebook
Everything you tell me to do goes into a notebook. Not an Evernote or online document, but an actual paper notebook. I do use Evernote for blog notes, just not for task based lists. The only exception for the notebook is if the request comes through email or my ticketing system. I’ll explain more further down.
2) High Priority Items
I browse through my high priority items first. These are what I consider high priority items.
- Anything from my bosses.
- Anything which is time sensitive and needs to be completed within the hour.
- Anything which is revenue based.
- Anything from our readers, specifically asking for technical help.
I manage a large local news site and fast responses are important to us.
3) Important, but Not Urgent
I go through my list of “Important, but Not Urgent” items using a similar logic as explained above. Basically, it’s anything which can wait, but still needs to be completed within 48 hours.
4) Important to Me
I go through items which are important to me, but not necessarily urgent to the group, yet. These may include sales proposals, new ideas, web posting reports, or projects which could develop “legs” in a few days with the proper TLC. I usually wait until either the end of the day, or Sunday afternoons to work on these projects. I specifically use Sunday afternoons as a way to set my week. I explained in a previous post that I actually like Mondays because I’ve already cleared off the majority of my plate before the business week starts.
5) Parsing and Ticketing
After I’ve organized my list, I start parsing out my to-dos. Sales and revenue items are moved into a ticketing system, if they’re not already in the system. I like Freshdesk because it’s almost transparent for our Sales team, and it’s free if you use their “Sprout” plan. They simply email their requests and the Freshdesk ticketing system puts them in order, plus I have the ability to re-assign the ticket if I’m unable to process the request. All I have to do is complete the task, respond to the rep, then “Close” the ticket. They just see it as an email. I like tickets because the items don’t leave my screen until I specifically close them.
6) Follow-Up Flags
This is where it may seem complicated, but I also use the Follow-Up flags within Outlook. These are for requests which are important, but not directly tied to revenue. The same method applies as it does to the ticketing system. The flagged email does not leave my sight until I specifically dismiss it.
7) Schedule Once, Update All
Finally, if a project is far off into the future, I set reminders in Outlook which then feed out to all of my devices like my tablet and phone. I tend to use Outlook for both personal and business simply because it’s easier to find discrepancies. I’ve had success with Google Calendar too, but I’ve found once you pick a calendar system, fragmentation of your schedule is the last thing you’d want to happen.
These may seem like a lot of steps, but it only takes me about 3-5 minutes to complete when I first arrive to my office. Then, it’s just a matter of organizing items as they come in.
This and similar methods have helped me over the past few years. The beauty of it is that it’s always adaptable and can change as needed to fit the situation.
Let’s get things done today!