Get things done in 2014

It’s the end of the year, time to start thinking about buying a treadmill, learning Spanish, and watching less garbage television. Oh, and being more “present” and “in the moment” (I hear that’s all the rage these days).

If one of your resolutions for the new year is to finally get more organized, what’s really worked for me is David Allen’s Getting Things Done. Like many of these types of systems, his full-blown plan for getting your life on track can be a bit overwhelming, but there are four takeaways for me that, without much effort, have provided a nice payoff.

Write everything down – Whether it’s pencil and paper or some app, get all of your scheduled appointments, to-do lists, long-term goals, etc. recorded in some fashion. It’s amazing how much more free your mind will be once you know that you’re not relying on your aging brain to remember everything. With an uncluttered mind, you’ll be able to focus with more intention on your tasks at hand.

File things and use a labeler – File everything! Get rid of the piles on your desk and in drawers. Allen strongly encourages investing in a labeler to label the file folders. It sounds like a minor point, but the labeling makes your files look more professional, and you’re more apt to keep it up. And to have all of your paperwork culled through and organized alphabetically is awesome.

If something takes less than two minutes, do it! – Most of us have heard that if you don’t take care of your large tasks first, you’ll never have time to squeeze them in. That makes sense. But, you’ll also find as you’re writing down all of the stuff in your brain, there will be a lot of things that you’ve been putting off that could be done quickly. Just do them. Allen recommends two minutes as the tipping point for these quick tasks. Just do them and be done with them.

Group your errands – This may seem obvious to the rest of you, but for me it was a “Doh!” moment. If you’re going to Home Depot to get some light bulbs for the garage, check your list (because your tasks are all written down at this point) for what else could be done while you’re out.

Allen’s system has many more great ideas and is worth the quick read. And make sure to get a labeler… for whatever reason, that made all the difference for me.

Happy New Year!