Getting Organized Part 1 – The fundamentals

This is the first blog of a 3 blogs series.

Why Should we be more organized ?

The reason is quite simple actually, it is because there are simply too many things that happen in our lives, and there is an ever growing demand to keep track of everything, and deliver on our promises (personally as well as professionally).

iPhones, Android Phones, Black berry phones … all smart phones are great, but they also mean that we are always connected. In a course of a day, you may text back and fourth with a number of individuals, get emails, and get phone calls. If you take a close look at each and every interaction, most of them will result in some sort of a commitment or an open loop (something to take care of), either on your behalf, or on the behalf of the person to communicate with.

Things like “yes honey, I will pick up the kid on my way back from work”,  “I will send you the report by next Wednesday” or “I will meet you tomorrow for lunch”. What happens if you make a commitment to someone, and you do not deliver ? you loose credibility, you feel bad about it, etc …

What happens if you show up at home without your kid because in between that phone call at 10:00 AM and 05:30 PM you committed to ten other things, and you simply forgot – did I mention that it is a rainy day, and your kid is standing outside with no umbrella waiting for you ???

Dealing with life and trying to be organized:

We all try different methods to get organized (to remember all of our commitments). Some send themselves emails, some make daily lists, some use their calendar as a reminder tool, and some simply REMEMBER EVERYTHING. Out of everyone, the kind that REMEMBER EVERYTHING, is probably the most organized bunch … why ? because they do not remember what they forgot, so in their mind, everything is under control (yeah right). Our brain is not structured in a way that allow us to remember everything. Some have phenomenal memory; I envy those people. They are the ones that may be able to get away with “I REMEMBER EVERYTHING”, but lets face it, most of us do not have that gift, and remembering 10 items (exceptionally good), versus 3 (me) does not make you part of that elite group, so lets get back to earth for a second, and take a big breath  …

Even if you do remember everything the question is WHEN and WHERE you remember. If you remember to buy milk while  watching a movie at the movie theater, it is simply an indication that your brain is trying to desperately remind you to buy milk (so you can have coffee tomorrow) , and while you are at the movies, it is useless information. Our brain does not know when to trigger  reminders, it simply triggers them when it likes to.

How To Get Organized ?

The answer for that is GTD®. what is GTD® ? It is an acronym for “Getting Things Done®”.
I think that the best short definition I found for it is in Wikipedia, so let me quote them …

“Getting Things Done® is a time-management methodology, described in a book of the same title by productivity consultant David Allen. It is often referred to as GTD®.
The GTD® method rests on the idea of moving planned tasks and projects out of the mind by recording them externally and then breaking them into actionable work items. This allows one to focus attention on taking action on tasks, instead of on recalling them.” (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_Things_Done).

I would like to take this opportunity to communicate that I am not licensed, certified, approved, or endorsed by or otherwise affiliated with David Allen or the David Allen Company which is the creator of the Getting Things Done® system for personal productivity. GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. For more information on the David Allen Company’s products, please visit their website: www.davidco.com.

The general principle – being a general and take control of your life:

Take a look at the two pictures below, and ask yourself “what are the differences between those two characters ?”.

GeneralPatton           orig

One is very confident, has an aura of importance around him, it is quite obvious he knows where he’s been and where he is going to. The person on the left has a plan. The other person has a  goal … to stay alive (somehow), survive the next encounter, and get himself to the next trench.

Ask yourself “Why is one person this way, and the other that way ? What makes a general … a general ???”.

The answer is simple (warning, this is a spoiler): One has a full map of everything that is on the go on all fronts. The map allows him to decide what to do next, when, and where to focus his resources. The other person does not have a full map, he is in the trenches, and the most he can see is the next trench (if he is lucky).

The idea is that you need a map of everything in your life.

Why a map ?

A map provides the big picture, it allows to form a strategy focus on different areas, and avoid obstacles (take a look at this video for example):

Just like the gazelle , you need a map in life, otherwise, you will hit trees. Most people wake up in the morning, and start running, no map, no true long term plans, and lots and lots of trees !

What do you prefer to do ?

In my next blog (getting organized part 2) I introduce the way to build your map. Click here to read more.