Sunday, December 16, 2012

Getting Things Done

It all started over at the Hive with a thread about Discouragement and Getting Things Done. I often think discouragement about getting things done can be solved by answering 2 questions:

What do you want/ need to get done and
How will you know when you've gotten it done.

That being said, I have a whole list of stuff I'm not getting done because I'm busy getting other things done and frankly, I'm just not organized enough around details. Secondly, I've been in this on-going slump that I just haven't been able to shake off since the fire and have felt generally very, very discouraged, tired, and weary. Was it the fire, the funerals, hitting 50, the older girls moving waaay, waaaay too far away? Hmmm......whatevah, I really wasn't looking for any kind of management system that would just heap ashes on my global thinking, randomly organized head. I mean, we already get a LOT done. But the discouragement portion of the conversation hit a nerve.

So, I listened and ended up jumping in; both feet (it's my way). It ended up focusing on a system called, likely enough, Getting Things Done, by David Allen. Apparently, I'm late to the party because there are all sorts of GTD groupies, systems, apps, etc. Who knew (well, apparently everyone but me), that you needed your own personal label-er if you really want to get things done?

The conversation evolved and a whole lot of books got mentioned, including but not limited to Getting Things Done,  10 Habits of Happy Moms, Happiness Project, Happier at Home, Zen to Done, The Art of Non-Conformity. I haven't checked them all out yet, but I've delved in to a few and it's basically a list about focused intentionality in various areas of your life. Which is the whole point of GTD.

So far, I've read most of GTD and the big "Aha!" moments came for me when realizing that my daily schedule is different than "errands" and "projects." Projects are also not something you get done in one fell swoop but consist of tasks that get done one at a time. Filing is straightforward, alpha-ordered. The big shazam for me was this, "one of the biggest problems with most people's personal management systems is that they blend a few actionable things with a large amount of data and material that has value but no action attached!" Wow, I feel like things just got so clear. Seriously. Read the book yourself, and discover your own Shazam, 'cause there's so much more to it all.

I also read The Happiness Project this week; Gretchen Rubin's foray into intentionally deciding to be happy and steps to get there. I didn't like this book at first, it seemed shallow and cheesy. In the end I liked Gretchen, her family and her little project. Food for thought, but not life- changing. She is a self described "reverent agnostic, " and, having read her book, I see her Happiness Project as a  moral compass for someone who simply doesn't have an external one. Good enough and some nuggets throughout, but rather random, imho.

Lastly, I read The Art of Non-Conformity. My fav so far, in this genre of intentional living. I like the author, what he's saying, how he's living. Big take-away from his stuff is "Be awesome" but there is soo much more. Check out Chris's web-site and see if you fit with the rest of his "small army." I took several pages of notes from the book and his web-site- ideas, thoughts, etc. Stuff I haven't put into words for a long time. It felt good to write it all down and see in black and white this is what I want, and this is how I'm going to go about getting it.

I also had a big Shazam while reading this book. We are fairly non-conformist. We have a slew of grad degrees, a slew of kids, have gone off the beaten path as we've birthed, parented and educated them, live off the beaten path (literally) on our homestead, have basically re-built a house from the studs up, etc. I get this non-conformist living thang. And in many ways, it's what Dreher is talking about in his book Crunchy Cons. So, I get that. But lately we've taken some extra hits for living a bit off-grid and I feel weary from that, too. It was nice to read the book and relate to people who are saying, outloud,  "We're not doing the average thang. And btw, we're not apologizing for it either." K, just need that external validation once every decade or so. I'm shallow like that.

Mystie, over at Convivial Living has designed a 31 Days of GTD for Homesmakers.. It's a great overview of the GTD program and she is also currently developing an Ebook on how to digitize GTD for homemakers. I read through of her GTD posts and was so intrigued that I went and bought the book (which is very unusual for me these days. I usually just wait for it to make it to my pre-order shelf at the library). It's a keeper, and I'm glad I bought it. Really, check out Mystie's web-site- she's a rock out home manager!

So, what's all this meant for me/us personally?
How I am thinking of things is different- I'm re-categorizing some things. Projects are separate from errands, are separate from our calendar, etc.
I'm going to re-do all of the files in the study, and yes, I bought a labeler.
To date, we've cleaned up the study, which included sorting through hundreds of books. I'm being pretty ruthless, and am still deciding how I'm going to pass along the purged items. I'm also going through all of the books in the attic as well. When I'm done, we'll have gone through the entire library. More importantly, we have room in the study to work. We have access to the books we use, rather than a huge library that gets in the way of what we need. Not that a library is a bad thing. But we are past the point of needing all of the Berenstain Bears on the shelves.
I'm thinking more clearly about how to manage writing, reading, etc. Things that are not clearly home-making/home schooling, but still very important to me.
We are honing our management systems so that we can get more done. Both Dr.Dh and I.

How do you  manage the tasks you have at hand? Are you a GTD expert, 7 Habits follower or something else all together? Thoughts?


Mary said...

This weekend I decluttered our family room, cleaned out two messy, disorganized closets and sorted through some things that needed sorting through. It feels good.

Mainah said...

I'm intrigued! My 16 year old daughter is very global. She astonishes me at how much she gets done, but she there are times when I wonder how in the world she keeps it straight because she leaves things everywhere and only cleans her room when she's having a friend over! I'm the focused type who creates a system for everything, and can't quite understand her...but I know that so we do ok! However, someday she will have her own place. I'm going to search out the sites and books you've listed!

LaughingLioness said...

Tess has left a new comment on your post "Getting Things Done":

Perhaps it's just this time of year but I am really striving to become bettr organized with time. I am working on building habits and routines. I might have to check out the resources you've mentioned.

Karyn Tripp said...

Oh! I need this right now. Thanks for your thought & recommendations!

Missouri Mama said...

I use an index card system from the book Sidetracked Home Executives. Although I'll admit to slacking since Thanksgiving and probably won't get back on track till the Christmas decorations come down.

Jennifer aGlimpseOfOurLife said...

Whew. I've got a blg list and am NOT an expert.