Get Shit Done
I am not an organized person. While I’m deeply fascinated by the topic, organization was never something that came naturally to me. In fact, I usually find organization as a whole to be a rather tedious process. I only grow in this department when it is absolutely necessary and I have exhausted all the lazy alternatives.
Well, being self employed happens to be one of those very situations where being disorganized just won’t fly. For years, I would have the same exhaustive cycle: Work crazy hours. Burn self out. Put off next job while I recover. Repeat.
So a few years back I came up with this simple (and rather obvious) system. I do this before starting every large project and it has saved my butt countless times.
First step: break your whole project down into small bite-size pieces. Try to whittle it down to 1 – 2 hour time blocks. If tasks are longer than 2 hours, break them down further. Duh.
Oh man do I hate this step! It’s the most tedious thirty minutes of my life every time I do it. But it’s kinda vital so you gotta suck it up. And don’t put this part off, either. You can lose days by doing that.
Great! Now you have a giant, daunting list of things to do. Thanks a lot, right? If you’re like me, this is the part where you’ll curl up in the fetal position and hope the work will just do itself somehow. Just because you have itemized your project into many small pieces, doesn’t make it any less intimidating to look at. That’s where scheduling comes in. After this step you won’t ever have to look at this list as a whole again.
Believe it or not, this is the fun part. Input each and every one of those individual tasks into your favourite to-do list app, one at a time. But here’s the important twist: you also need to schedule every single task to yourself in said app. I like to book myself for about five hours of work a day. This will leave room for any unforeseen issues that may pop up. And hey, if all goes according to plan you can duck out early for the day!
I’m currently using Things, but Wunderlist or Todoist (or any of the bazillion to-do list apps out there) should suffice. Find a to-do list app that’s most intuitive to you and make it your BFF as you’re going to be spending a lot of time with each other.
Obey the Red Dots
This is not so much a task as it is a mindset, but it’s the most vital part of this whole system. When you wake up in the morning and get your day’s list of tasks: EFFING DO THEM! Obey those little red notification badges as best you can. This system will never work if you let them pile up. Sync your to-do list to your phone. Don’t let yourself off the hook. Muster up all the strength and discipline you have to get through these few items the day they’re assigned, and you’re golden.
That’s all there is to it! I’m sure to the hardcore GTD geeks this is childsplay, but hey, it works for me. If you have a weird, disorganized brain like mine, maybe it’ll work for you too.