In the coming weeks I will be teaching a couple different groups of people how to stay organized and be more productive. To make sure that I was on point in these lessons, I gave my systems a thorough review and brushed up on my GTD knowledge. I figured since I did all the work to review it, I would share the updated version of my personal organizational system here. Business owners have so many demands on their time, staying organized (and therefore productive) is probably the single greatest skill they can learn. All the other things that make a business successful come as a by-product of having the time, energy, and mental clarity that focused and organized work provides.
My personal system is based on the GTD model (Capture, Process, Organize, Review and Do), so I am going to lay out the tools and methods I use for each of the GTD steps one by one.
The first part of the GTD system is to capture all the information, ideas, tasks, and projects that you encounter during the course of the day. I use several tools:
I use Evernote as my primary capture tool for personal things and as my primary capture tool when I am not physically in my office. I keep the android App on the home screen of my phone so, a voice note, picture note, or typed note are all only one tap away. The work tasks are processed out to my Outlook Task list regularly, but the personal items I keep in Evernote for my personal review. I also use different tags and notebooks to keep my personal hobbies and reading organized.
At my office, we use an Exchange server (I know, I know…) and use Outlook to manage the workflow. I use the tasks in Outlook religiously to govern all my tasks and next actions. I use it to organize my work by the day I plan to get the tasks done. The Ctrl+Shift+K shortcut is my best friend at the office. Whenever someone stops by my office with a request or I get an email, or an idea I immediately Alt+Tab to Outlook and use the Ctrl+Shift+K shortcut to create a task to capture it.
I do have a physical inbox in my office, but I almost never use it. My staff will put my mail there and things that I need to sign, but I very rarely use it to capture anything myself.
I do keep some emails in my inbox, as a secondary “to-do” list. I typically only allow emails to accumulate here if creating the tasks for the follow-up will take longer than the actual follow up. I always clean out my inbox to zero at the start and end of the day.
That does it for my capture tools. Next we will look at processing methods!