Getting things done & living in the moment
By sharing my experience of open heart surgery I hope to help others going through similar life changing events in the future; but I also see an opportunity to help others identify and make changes to keep their own balance in life. It should be that you can achieve your goals without having to sacrifice your health through life style choices that don’t work or, as for me, have life threatening consequences.
We all seem to live increasingly busy lives in this modern connected world so being organized and able to cope with modern life is really important to manage your personal stress. I certainly find that it helps me.
So my first post in what I call "Life Design" (living life in the moment) is about how to get stuff done without it dominating living life.
I use the process called "Getting things done" (created by David Allen) to help me get organized and achieve everything I want from my life. I will be relying heavily on this as I "reinvent" myself for when I return to work from my heart surgery and I hope this could be useful for you too.
The first step is to have a good understanding of what you have to do. This is the time to collect or Capture all your individual to do’s and tasks. Perhaps you have things that will themselves have multiple actions. We can call these “projects” for the sake of discussion. Projects can be personal based such as home decorating or garden plans or they can be work based.
The next step is to clarify each task you have captured by asking yourself some simple questions. What kind of task is it - perhaps it is an errand or maybe a piece of writing. However while many tasks may be complex, it is critical to keep this simple and identify a single type for each task. (Note a task with multiple types is more likely to be a project)
Once we have our list of tasks and understand the kind of tasks that they are, you need to decide if you can action that task now or later. This again requires you to apply some simple methodologies but if you have a task that is coming up but you need to meet with someone first before starting, then that task can be assigned a “meeting” type and you can only work on it after you have had the meeting.
These steps may suffice for some of your tasks but others may be more complex. You decide by assessing whether the task has a further actionable step to follow or not. If it does, you can then collect those tasks and clarify the next action.
So you now have a list of tasks that have been assigned type and you understand whether you can action them now or later. You now need to organize your tasks in such a way that you can sort of filter them by project, type and which are actionable.
There are multiple productivity tools available to do this and I will share my own preferred system in a separate post.
One of the most critical stages of any productivity system is to reflect on your task list to ensure that that it is relevant and a true reflection of what you need to do now and next. I have found the best approach is to identify a regular time each week, find a space where you won’t be disturbed and to then reflect on your projects and tasks.
You want to make smart decisions about your projects and tasks. Understand which are critical items that only you can do and if you are running out of time, make a plan for what’s next to happen later.
Keeping this discipline is not easy. You tend to think that this type of review and planning is using time that you could actually be doing your tasks; but you have to be fully invested in this type of structured system for it to work for you and to really make a difference.
Engage - next task
So you now have clarity of what you have to do, when and how and you know you have the time set aside to complete your tasks. This is how you get your work done with the reward that at the end of the day your plate is clear and the next day is lined up for the next achievable things to do.
For me, this system works beautifully but there are times when it can break. The important thing to do is not to panic, then to be honest with yourself that a fix is needed and finally to set aside time to overhaul your system and get yourself back on track. Look out for a separate post on how to do this too.