The fifth day into the year, and I can already foresee a number of huge changes in my life. As I mentioned before the transition from thinking like a university student to a fully self-sufficient adult is a pretty huge one. One of the things that I foresee is a glorious lack of time. Essentially, I took upon a large number of personal projects and I might take on a few more this coming year. And every task and every idea needs time to realize and complete. So I decided upon a few New Years resolutions:
- Keep my tasks and projects organized. I’ve worked out that I will keep to the core concept of the GTD methodology. All that I need is some central, efficient manner to organize my evergrowing TODO lists. At the moment I am experimenting with a number of different applications, to avoid the dreaded list on a piece of tattered paper syndrome.
- Handle communications efficiently. I am already using the Inbox Zero method. And for the most part I can keep track of everything and handle e-mails quickly. My personal e-mail inbox is usually has zero messages. My work inbox is a bit more chaotic, but I’ve gotten it down to zero in the past. Nowadays no more than 30 e-mails stay in my inbox.
- Avoid wallowing and putting things off. OK, this is a weak spot in my case. There are days that I don’t feel like doing anything. Unfortunately, while there are times my life feels like on hold, the world doesn’t stop. So in essence I put off all kinds of work and only more piles on. And it gets to the point that I get depressed just by looking at all the things I have to do. Instead this year, if I feel like I am in rutt, I will take some menial tasks. That way I keep my mind off whatever I am thinking about and still get stuff done.
- Do it now, not later. One of the worst things to litter my tasks are the little day-to-day incidents. The little errands, the little messes of life so to say can generate a disproportionate amount of work. And it adds up. Quickly. So I have to stop procrastinating on these little tasks. I think it is more effective to take all these little nuisance tasks, aggregate them together and do them all at once. That way I can avoid task switching-even thought my task log method helps with that a bit-and clear these trivial things before they get out of hand.
- Keep taking bits off the big projects. I have a number of large projects. Some involving writing, some involving coding, etc. Now I know that I can’t just sit down and finish a large part of a project. My schedule and life in general won’t allow for that. So instead I plan on taking bits and pieces off each my big projects each day. And I’ll incorporated those bits into my daily tasks. That way my projects will go forward a bit every day.
Now I should be able to accomplish all these resolutions without too much trouble. My biggest concern is to make sure my tendency of inactivity doesn’t get in the way this year. These resolutions should not only reduce the size of my TODO list. But they should also remove a great deal of stress. And the sense of accomplishment will definitely shine through on days where all I want to do is sing the blues. So wish my luck and may you too have productive and joyful year ahead.
P.S.: I hope that by writing these blogs on time management will help someone. Or at least inspire someone to achieve more in their life. If they help you, please give me a shout on the comments section. I love to hear from you and read your comments.
I felt the same a year ago, and one of my goals for 2008 was to practice inbox zero for my mail. It takes perseverance, and I didn’t always keep it at 0, but I always kept it below 10. And indeed it makes so much of a difference and generally improved how both my colleagues and myself feel about communicating and getting things done.
However, please keep in mind that “below 30” is far from “zero”. If you really have “zero”, then every new mail which you do not process immediately is a personal insult, and urges you to get rid of it. The difference between 10 and 11 is much less so.
In order to do so, I found myself using calendars, bug trackers, wikis, etc. much more often to move the mail contents into a proper place to life in. That also helped me organize information, email is such a terrible place for long-term storage.
At the time of writing of this blog had about 20 or 30 e-mails in my work inbox. And then I organized them down to 0. This morning they are back up to 6.
And yes those 6
I definitely agree with using the full potential of tools at ones disposal. While at work we have a bug tracker, getting my client to use it. Well, good luck with that. 😀 I also have a personal wiki which I occasionally use. The biggest problem at work is the lack of rigour to stick to a communication process instead of “ad-hocing it”. That unfortunately is a people management problem, and goes over my head. 🙁
But you hit upon an important point. A large part of clutter in our lives is the deluge of communication and messages. And it only seems bound to get worse… when you start say, getting automated e-mails from your car or other electronics.
Oops… I hate it when I never complete a thought.
What I meant to say is:
And yes those 6 sit around staring back at me, smirking at me. 🙂