3,2,1...Happy New Year!
The clock struck midnight on not only a new year, but a new decade. We all used the pun that we’d start to see things clearly in 2020, but the lens we used to reach that clarity was far different than anything any of us could have imagined.
As the news broke about coronavirus in Wuhan, China, many watched it play out on the news with a heavy heart for those impacted, but thought, “that’s so far away, that probably won’t impact my life too much, right?” Clearly, wrong.
And as we’ve seen, nothing could have actually been further from the truth.
Whether you’re reading this post during the pandemic, or months and even years from when it all began, one thing is certain: life has changed.
With many of us continuing to work from home, potentially while homeschooling and taking care of housework, it may be easy to feel like you’re losing control of your life, and while some things seem far from familiar, and likely will be for a while, there are some steps you can take to establish a bit of normalcy and organization in your life. Here’s how.
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The GTD Methodology
Before I continue, let me first preface that I have no affiliation to the Getting Things Done® (GTD®) methodology that David Allen created. I am just a HUGE fan (I even got him to sign my book) and feel it is my duty to share his wisdom with you, especially during unprecedented times. It truly changed the way I went about getting things done forever, and is what inspired us to create LifeStarr.
In a nutshell, Getting Things Done “is a personal productivity methodology that redefines how you approach your life and work.” Within this approach, David Allen recommends five clear steps to help get you organized (you can find even more information on his website):
- Capture - Collect what has your attention
- Clarify - Process what it means
- Organize - Put it where it belongs
- Reflect - Review frequently
- Engage - Simply do
Seems simple enough, right? Well it is! That’s the beauty of it and why I think so many people are overcomplicating the act of organizing in their lives. It really is a simple process, as long as you invest time into it (which in turn will save you a lot of time in the long run).
Why am I telling you all about this? Well, because with everything going on in our lives, now is a good time to take a step back and reflect, and think of what we can each be doing a little bit better in our lives.
Getting Things Done...From Home
Now, it’s one thing to apply his concepts to everyday life, it’s another to apply these concepts to our new realities, which for many, is working from home with a plethora of distractions around.
Let’s take a look at the five fundamentals of the GTD methodology, and see how you can apply them to taking back control of your life at home all while getting more done.
Note, there will be an upfront investment of time to organize your thoughts, but the amount of time you’ll save organizing in the long run will be well worth it.
Gather your post-it notes, phone notes, thoughts in your head, and any other asset that is housing your to-do items, and make a list of them whether they be personal, professional, homeschooling, or other.
Given the unprecedented circumstances of our day-to-day lives right now, your list may be quite lengthy (i.e. you usually don’t have to be the one assisting with math lessons), and it may look relatively overwhelming at first, but that’s OK! Remember, this is all an exercise to help you save time.
Once your list is put together, carefully review it. Decide if there are any you can act on now, if there are any you need to put on hold (i.e. they require interacting with somebody less than 6 feet away from you), or if they don’t matter anymore and can simply be forgotten about (side note, now is a great time to reevaluate your goals along with organizing your to-do list).
It’s time to grab your calendar and start prioritizing the items you listed in the step above. Now, as you look at some of the things on your list, it may be tempting to just dive in and start getting things done now...but don’t. This phase should solely be dedicated to categorizing and prioritizing the items on your list.
To help you with this, Allen recommends categorizing each item into:
- Projects (as the category implies, these are projects you need to be working on)
- Next Actions (high priority tasks)
- Waiting For (these may be tasks that other people are doing for you)
- Calendar (as mentioned above, start planning things out for items that are date-specific and set reminders for yourself to get things done)
When you’re taking the time to plan out Next Actions, include sub-tasks for each task you need to complete to make it more digestible. For example if you want to get a dog, your tasks may look like this:
- Task: Get a dog
- Sub-task: Decide what kind of dog you want
- Sub-task: Decide if you want to adopt or use a breeder
- Sub-task: Research breeders and rescue shelters (whichever direction you decided to go with in the previous step)
The list can go on, but you get the idea.
Now that all of your items are in their proper place, take a step back, and review what you’ve just done. Does it all make sense? Do things seem to be in the right spot?
The Reflect stage should actually be revisited frequently, especially when things seem to begin unraveling. By looking things over, you’ll be able to assess what’s working for you and what to change, if need be. The purpose of these five steps isn’t to do it once and then think your work is done. You’ve simply just set the foundation, but the work is ongoing (again, although you do need to put in effort, it’s nowhere near the effort you're probably putting in to keep track of things currently).
I like to sit and take a look at it while drinking my morning coffee. It helps give me a good perspective of everything I have going on and gives me clarity of what my day may look like and what I need to accomplish. I find it very motivating and it gets me in the right headspace to take on the day.
It’s go time! After all of the thought and effort that went into the first four steps, you’re finally able to take on your tasks and start getting things done. Congratulations! Be confident in the choices you make moving forward and trust that they’ll help you accomplish what needs to get done.
Hopefully this will help to remove some of the chaos going on as you’re stuck at home right now. All of us are on edge right at the moment, but hopefully by having more organization in your life, it can help calm some of your anxiety and help you tackle your to do list, one task at a time. The nice thing about this process as well is that it will help you once things start to get back to normal. This isn’t just something to take on while you’re stuck at home, it’s a practice that many have turned into a lifestyle.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend reading or listening to Getting Things Done. We barely scratched the surface of what you’ll find by diving into this material. I personally think it’s a must-read for anybody looking to take control of their lives.
Now, what if I told you an app existed that helped you to operate this way and give you back hours of your week while staying organized? That’s exactly what LifeStarr does. It takes these practices and helps to streamline them for you, automatically, so that you can focus on what really matters. The best part? It’s free and always will be! Simply click the button below to sign up for the app.