I have a busy life. I am a husband, a soon to be father, a District Manager for a regional franchised restaurant, and a podcast host, editor, occasional blogger and regular life logger. I manage personal, business and social network relationships. I like to keep current on my favorite TV shows and sports teams. On top of all that, I need to find time to walk the dogs, run errands, get in some light workouts and continue my studies of the Spanish Language and iOS development.
I have often wondered how difficult it would be to increase the hours in a day from say 24 hours to 30. I have already decided in my mind how I would divide that time up. First and foremost, I would get more sleep. My current average of 5 hours a day takes it's toll through the week and catching up on Sundays doesn't always happen. I would spend a couple more hours a day with my family. Then I would spend what is left doing some gaming.
Now back to the reality. I don't think I will ever get my 30 hours a day. So I have to make due with the time I have. This is where my GTD or "Getting Things Done" system comes into play. I have learned to manage my time and manage it well. It's about balance. It's about priorities. It's about focus. Without this sytem, I would be wandering aimlessly in a circle of unproductive muck without direction or confidence. This system works and it works well. I would advise you to give an overview of these 4 cornerstones habitually at least twice a day. First thing in the morning along with your coffee is a great place to start and then maybe one more time later in the afternoon towards the end of a work day.
My system is made up of 4 big parts. I am not going to go into detail about how I use them but I will say a few words about what I use them for.
1) Email - I have implemeted a solid email system that does two things: 1) It keeps my inbox empty and #2) It divides my emails into different mailboxes or folders (whichever term you prefer) based off priority and type of action. You can read more on that (here). Email is a cornerstone because it is the modern day method of communicaiton for most people. It is the standard to which anyone with an internet connection can communicate with one another. Inside your emails are dates, meetings, memos and files that need to be put into a trusted system. Enter....
2) Calendar - The calendar is used to designate blocks of time for events. A calendar entry is made up of an event name, a location and a time alloted. In some cases, it may also include attendees. The calendar should not be used for tasks or projects but rather meetings, holidays, birthdays and other kinds of important events that need to be scheduled. For task and projects you need a....
3) Task Manager - There are a number of good applications and sources for managing todos. Many calendar applications have a section of the calendar reserved just for that purpose. A Task Manager is meant to manage all your projects and all the actions steps that need to be taken to complete that project. They could range from something as simple as a shopping list, to future goals or even more complex projects such as a renovating a home. (My personal recommendation for a good task manager is Omnifocus for Mac OS X.). Then finally, there is the....
4) File Manager- The final piece to a solid GTD sytem is an information manager. Whether it comes through email, a thumb drive or via other source like a scanner or fax, you need a place to store and organize that information for future reference. There are many applications out there that can do this for you. You can even use the built in file explorer on your Mac or PC. I personally recommend Evernote as it is a solution available to everyone. You can access your Evernote account on a Mac, PC, the web or on your mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads or even Android devices.
So how about you? Are you overwhelmed with all that life throws at you? How about setting up the cornerstones of your GTD system and letting your life know who's boss?
Feel free to comment below: