I've been a big fan of David Allen's Getting Things Done system for a long time. I believe that without this system I would likely be lost. You see, I'm a really big fan of bright shiny objects. For me, a bright shiny object is anything that gets my attention and manages to move me away from what's important in my life.
I find that when I use a personal management system I get three or four times more accomplished than if I just wing it. What about you, do you have a personal management system? Does it help it make you more effective or is it just too much of a hassle to use?
Here are 7 things that I've found make a difference in my life by using a personal management system:
I don't have to think about what I'm supposed to do, it's written down.
For me this is a big deal. If I don't write it down, I spend lots of time and energy trying to remember what I'm supposed to do and whether I've let things fall through the cracks. When I come in the morning, I just look at what I need to do and get to work.
Question for you: How much time do you spend every day trying to figure out what's next on your list?
Having a management system allows me a method to review what I'm supposed to do.
Every Sunday I spend 45 minutes looking over my life, making decisions about what the next steps need to be to accomplish outcomes I'm interested in.
I get to review all of the projects I have open. I decide which ones need action over the next seven days and which ones are just going to have to wait.
Questions for you: How many projects do you have open at one time? Do you have a system in place for working on the ones that are really important?
A personal management system allows me to evaluate whether something is important or not.
Too often I spend time chasing my tail. Unfortunately when I do this, it's often chasing my tail around things that are urgent or appear to be urgent but aren't very important. I bet you've spent time doing this also.
You want to spend your time working on important, but not urgent projects. Those are the projects that allow you to be proactive in how you live your life.
Question for you: How much time do you work on projects that are either urgent and important or urgent and not important? What can you do to reverse this trend?
A personal management system allows me to focus on important, but not urgent projects.
Value for me and I bet for you is created when you work on things that are important, but don't have to be done today. When I spend my time focusing on these types of projects I'm happier and feel like I'm doing useful things.
I don't like to feel pressured to get things done. I know that if I don't work diligently on important and not urgent activities they have a nasty habit of becoming urgent and important.
Question for you: How many times could you have avoided an emergency if you worked diligently on projects when you first wrote them down?
I'm able to keep track of my commitments to others.
Before I started using a personal management system I would often drop the ball on commitments I made to others. Now this rarely, if ever happens. When I make a commitment to someone I enter it in my personal management system and it becomes part of my weekly review process.
A major part of building trust with others is doing what you said you would do when you said you would do it. How do you feel when others break time commitments with you? Why would your actions have a different effect with others?
It allows me to communicate when I'm behind.
I don't know about you, but occasionally I'll find I'm running behind. A personal management system puts this fact right in front of my nose every week. It also reminds me that if this project involves someone else I need to contact them and give them an update on what's going on. This is not only important when working with clients but also with everyone else in my life.
Question for you: When was the last time you contacted someone to let them know you were late before they called you?
I get to decide consciously what I'm going to drop.
Sometimes I find that I've just got too many things on my plate. Some of those projects either have to go in the someday file or sometimes I just decide the project is not adding value to my life. With a weekly review it becomes pretty obvious when a project falls in this category. If I look at the project for several months and take no action, I know I need to move it out of my active list and either trash it or put it on ice.
When I move a project I'm not going to work on out of my life, I create space for something that can add value and really is important.
Your final question: What would happen in your life if you found a way to manage projects and activities in a way that added value for you and those around you? If you don't have a system, start now. You'll be glad you did.
What about you, do you use a personal management system.? If so, what type and what benefits do you get?