If you have a hectic and complex business life that seems to inexplicably merge with you own personal time, then like me, you probably write lists of all the stuff that you are supposed to get done – (before you forget that you need to do it and/or forget where you wrote down what you were not supposed to forget …..).
What would help of course, is rather than a simple list of stuff to do (that you cross out as you do it) – an electronic To Do List that you can run on your PC.
Now, don’t be so predictable …. I can already hear you screaming about using Outlook and, yes, if you have Outlook, putting everything into Outlook tasks is a very good way of getting organised, blah, blah, blah. The trouble is, and I am sorry, but I know that Outlook Tasks sync seamlessly to your Smartphone etc, it’s just that I find the whole process of setting up Outlook tasks (and then subsequently managing their status) as kind of clunky and somehow the process just doesn’t feel intuitive. I have nothing against Outlook otherwise.
So, I have spent the last few years on a quest to find the ultimate To Do List!
All I want is a tool in which I can write a list of tasks that I need to achieve – with the ability to cross each task off the list as it is completed – and I don’t want it running on the bleeding Internet.
You would think that is a simple requirement – easily satisfied – but no, there are very few applications like that out there.
For a considerable time, the best that I had found is Tudumo but when it came out of beta, the guy wanted $29.95 for it – which I thought was a little pricey. Call it $12.99 – and he would have hooked me in.
No matter, I have now found the perfect ToDoList (or GTD – Get Things Done) it is FREE and always seems to be rated as the very best of it’s ilk, by those who stumble upon it. It is called (unsurprisingly) ToDoList by a genius programmer called Dan G – who publishes the source so that you can see how he does it.
Simply, with ToDoList, each line is a task (which you can easily add or edit) and that task has a number of features – which you can set at will. The tasks can then be displayed in priority or date order and you can set a filter that ensures that completed tasks no longer show (but they don’t get deleted – so you can always review them at a later date).
Now, I could wax lyrical about ToDoList – because it is a real gem – but if you have read this far, you are probably curious enough to check it out for yourself – so I won’t bore you further – just go and try it for yourself – and then read on (because I might just have a very small but positive effect on your life now – well, you never know….).
So, you now have this tool that will allow you to make task lists – how can you use it to get more efficient use of your time?
Well, a whole industry has grown up around the concept of “Getting Things Done” – often referred to as GTD.
You can employ consultants and go on courses to learn how to get things done – but let me save you some (big) money with these simple Woody tips:
1. Throw everything (that you possibly can) away in the bin (trash) or burn it or something:
If something is really important – it will find its way back to you. You can try this for yourself. The next electricity bill that you receive, throw it in the bin. I promise that the Electricity company will send you another.
In other words, clear your life and your inbox of clutter and junk – just concentrate on the big things that matter – and remember that family, friends and having a life come higher up the list of things that matter – than your Boss. [Then remember that your Boss is human too and has a family and a list of things that matter (to him) – so give him a break].
2. Set an Out of Office Message that says:
I am sorry, but I am in training all day – without access to a phone or email. I get so many emails and there is such a backlog, that I won’t be able to answer your unless it is really urgent. If your email is really urgent, no problem, please resend but edit the subject title to include the words “so important that my pants are on fire” – and I’ll attend to that right away.
3. Be reassured by the fact that the only way GTD Gurus and Consultants can make any money – is by telling you how to get organised and achieve everything. This is the Big Lie – that always ignores the fact that most of us have more things to achieve than is possible in the time available. You can’t possibly achieve everything – so be calm about that.
4. People who think they are disorganised are probably more organised than people who think they are organised.
5. Write and keep two lists:
One list of stuff that you need to achieve now.
Another list of stuff that is more aspirational.
Concentrate on the first list – and only on one thing at a time.
Try and make daily lists of things that you need to get done – and try and put less on the list to do – than you can achieve. Then when you complete everything on the list, you will feel so much better as a result.