Getting things done (aka how I keep my head above water)

2008 January 21
by Karen

Over the holiday break, I picked up and read Getting Things Done by David Allen. I’ve been thinking that I should read it for a while now. But in the craziness that was my fall semester I realized I needed some SERIOUS help getting my sh!t together. I was spending way too much time beating out fires and chasing my tail. Considering I’m “Miss Organized”, admitting I had a problem took a while.

The first thing I learned from the book, was that I couldn’t use my brain to keep track of what I had to do. Otherwise I wouldn’t have space in my head to actually DO any thoughtful work. In the past I’ve managed this issue via paper list. (yes, laugh at me. The techie likes paper lists). However, it was clear that too much of my work involved other people – ie my staff, for paper-based lists. So we needed something we could all see to managed the projects and workflow of the department.

To solve this problem, I went open source software searching and came up with a nice program called Task Freak. The great thing about Task Freak is that it allows you to managed tasks, organized them by project, assign them to people, set deadlines, without the traditional project management stuff that frankly IMHO is overkill.

To manage my own To Dos, I got a Remember the Milk account and linked it to my Google Calendar, and iCal. Using this I can keep track of my home and work to dos. I also went on a filing, pitching spree and organized my offices (work and home) so I can better handle the flow of paper. The thing is stuff keep coming in and I have to deal with it. I love the do it, file it, delegate it flow chart in the book. So much so that I’m considering posting it above my computer as a mantra to keep me from getting paralyzed. To help with the continual stream of incoming stuff, I’ve set aside time each week for housekeeping and To do maintenance.

All of this has made a tremendous difference and I’m feel much more in control of my department, professional development and home life. The long term trick is going to learning how to stick with it and not reverting to old habits.  Otherwise I’ll just end up in the same freaked out, lost state I was when I started the process.

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  1. Top 10 Tips for Getting Organized | Library Trainer
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