Today I’d like to talk about a question that I know many of you are worried about and that I’m getting frequesntly asked. And that is, How to manage our time effectively? How to do things and not go mad from the quantity of tasks on our lists? Today I’ll share with you my story of mastering my time efficiently.

If you are new here, I’ll tell you a couple of words about my life so that you don’t think that I just love to talk and why the question of managing my time was so urgent for me a couple of months ago. Besides my regular blogging (well regular is not a good word for my rare presence here but I promise to try and post twice a week on regular basis from now on), my husband and I are running an Eat Me Cafe, I run an online store selling alternative brewing gear and coffee and the most important we have a girl turning two next month. So you can guess that I couldn’t do without a good system of self organization and time control.

As far as the time management e-course that I’ve taken was for Russian speakers only I won’t say much about it. You can read my Russian post for more info. But I’d like to tell you more about the system of time management that is perfect for everyone whether you are a Chief Executive or a housewife with four kids or a student. The system is called GTD and was developed by David Allen and described in his Getting Things Done book. As for me it is the only working and effective system ever that will really get your things done!

5 easy steps on how to plan your time and become more productive

So what are the main steps you should take to implement this system into your life.

1. Capture

Collect everything what has your attention

Collect any thoughts, ideas, to-do’s, things to finish no matter personal or professional in one place — «Inbox» (notepad, app, voice recorder). The main point is ‘Not to keep anything in your head’. For example, you’ve got a perfect idea concerning your project, or you want to remember to watch a movie, or read a book, or you’ve got a dream — you have to write it down. Our mind will be busy doing extra work to remember unnecessary things than to concentrate.

 2. Clarify

Process what it means

Next step is to process all the inbox ideas. Considering every point you have to ask yourself if this point is actinable. If no — then trash it, incubate it or file as reference. If it requires an action — if it takes less than two minutes — do it, if more — delegate it or put it on you ‘next to do’ list to do it when you have time.

3. Organize

Put it where it belongs 

The biggest mistake that we make when planning our day, says David Allen, is that we make endless to-do lists and never fulfill them. The main point of his system is that we have to create ‘contexts’ and organize tasks regarding to them. Let me explain.

You have to categorize your tasks into separate lists that require specific instruments or situation. They can be categorized depending on a type of task, like ‘calls to make’, ’emails to write’ or depending on a situation you are in, e..g. ‘by computer’, ‘in an office’, ‘at the meeting’, ‘in a store’. My current categories are ‘by computer’, ‘in Eat Me Cafe’, ‘at home’, ‘calls to make’. So when I’m sitting at my desk I open the proper list and do tasks from that list, next time when I’m in a cafe I open the proper to-do list and do it there. And you never stick to precise time. This way you don’t feel lost when you plan to do something at your desk and plans change and you have to go out.

4. Reflect

Review as often as necessary

You have to review your lists as often as necessary to feel sure you won’t forget about your tasks and keep them up to date. David Allen suggests to review them every week while planning. This way you evaluate the priorities, review tasks that are on control and reconsider your aims.

5. Engage

Simply do 

Simply do the task. To fulfil the task you have to keep in mind a simple action that needs to be done. For example, ‘make a call’, ‘order a book’, ‘go to bank’ — these tasks require one simple action, one step to make.

Such points as ‘make a presentation’, ‘create a website’, ‘renovate a kitchen’ are not tasks but projects because they require some fifty to hundred small steps. If you have ‘create a website’ task you will postpone it because your brain won’t know where to start. But if you divide it into small steps like ‘get a domain’, ‘choose hosting’, ‘create categories’ and so on you’ll end with small steps that are clear and easy to fulfil.

In my next post I’ll continue talking about GTD system and I’ll tell you how I organize my tasks.

Please comment if this post was useful.
I know this format is new to my blog but I think that such posts are useful and I have something to say on that topic.  

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