How I Organised the Sh*t Out of My In-Tray

by August 20, 2017

Your phone is probably overflowing with guff. Emails, missed calls, messages, likes, shares and comments like a hailstorm. Studies have shown our brain’s reaction to constant notifications releases Oxytocin, a feel-good chemical associated with pleasure. We’re addicted to the deluge of the internet.

The worst thing about the guff-storm is the likelihood of dropping the ball on important stuff. Because we’re so absorbed in the minutiae of daily communications, we forget (and by we, I mean I) to focus on the big picture. I read a book called ‘Getting Things Done.’ The book was supposed to be a miraculous solution to modern disorganisation. Pffft! I thought. Flim flam! Until I read it.

David Allen offers a lovely solution. Whatever the problem, write it down. Have a single ‘To Do’ list, and a single calendar. I bought a diary. I bought a notebook, and dutifully wrote things down. The solution ‘GTD’ offers is simple – if an activity is time-bound, then put it in the diary. If a task isn’t time specific, write it on the list. When you’re not doing stuff in the diary, then plough through the stuff on the list.

The first couple of days I did this I noticed a massive shift in how I felt. Firstly, I wasn’t plagued with constant ‘Did I forget something?’ thoughts, and secondly, I realised how much free time I actually had. I felt less stressed. I got stuff done. God lord, the man was right.

So, if you’re a bit stressed out, or feeling overwhelmed, here is a (very poor) reduction of what I learned. But I’d advise you buy the book, it’s much ¬†better.

  1. Get a calendar and write every time-specific activity down on it
  2. Get a notebook and write every non time-specific activity on that
  3. When you’re not doing a ‘calendar’ activity, work through the others

Is it that simple? No. But do the above 3 things and you’ll find you suddenly have time to start baking your own bread and going for runs, and you don’t forget your dad’s birthday.

So give it a go.

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  • Simple and effective – thanks Jo.

    I have experimented with Google Inbox for some time ( which has “postpone” & “task” ) feature in but my experiments have been a touch unsuccessful (cue sound of a thousand balls dropping)…

    … in which case, if folk are looking for a non-paper/digital model for you 1. 2. 3. pattern I would recommend ToDoist – for it’s simplicity, speed, desktop/mobile apps and integration with Momentum (Chrome Homepage) and Gmail (Inbox->task).

    Still dropping balls like crazy – but it helps :o)