My productivity system

I do not differentiate tasks for work from tasks home.  It’s all just stuff that needs to get done.  When a new task arrives, I apply the 4Ds rule to it:

  • Do It.  Quick tasks or high priorities.  Just get them out of the way.
  • Delegate.  Is it even my job to do?  Can I get someone else to do it?
  • Defer.  Put it on the calender, schedule it, etc.
  • Delete it.  Some things just don’t need to get done.  If I can’t find a reason to apply one of the first 3 Ds, it has no business on my list.

The Do It List:
Now, I do keep a list of things that I need to do today.  Where do I store this list?  Some fancy AJAX enabled Wiki web system on the InterTubes?  Nope. I have a 3×5 notebook and Index Cards.  I buy them at department stores in multi packs for dirt cheap.  I use the notebook to capture notes that I want to save.  My car’s mileage, the 6 months I spent hasseling my health insurance company to get them to cover some expenses.  When the books are full, I save the books.

The Index cards are for ToDo lists, grocery lists, etc.  ToDo lists get their own card, so do grocery lists.  I go as far as one card per kind of list, grocery, healty food, hardware store.  Oh, yeah, I have a “honey do” list of projects also…  Index cards are easier to hold and when the list is done, into the recycling they go.

Defer:
I use Lotus Notes (our e-mail system) as my corporate calendar AND I use Google’s Calendar.  Why 2 calendars?  I need to use Lotus Notes, so people at work can see my schedule, but I really like Google’s Calendar, especially for the gadget that I can put on my homepage showing my schedule.  Google Sync for Blackberry will sync my Google Calendar to my Blackberry and my Blackberry syncs to Lotus Notes.

Really, the secret is: the notebook + binder clips + index cards and classifying the data, ToDo or Capture and remembering to PURGE useless items.

Now for the supporting documents.  I’ve used my method for a lot of years.  My calendar used to be a “Month-At-A-Glance” paper type, + the notebook and  I haven’t always used index cards.  Sometimes I just use the pages of the notebook and tear them out, but I’ve always classified my stuff and PURGED for more years than I can remember.

I know this reads like it’s from 10,000 productivity books / websites, but that’s because I’ve been reading a bunch of them.

Leo, at ZenHabits.NET uses a similar system.  You can read about here.  He also talks about David Allen’s GTD (Getting Things Done).  David is all the rage these days, but I think David puts more work into organizing his work than he needs to.  Leo agrees.

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