The last mile of getting organized is pulling together all the tasks you have to get done into a single place, and to start plowing through them, one by one.
Of all the facets of a productivity system, the task list is most affected by a person’s personality. Therefore, I have organized three of the best task list options I have found by personal needs.
Invest the time now to develop a system for doing the things you need to do in a way that works for you. It will pay dividends in saved time and higher quality work for the rest of your life.
“My projects are too big. I need baby steps”
Getting Things Done is the answer for people who get paralyzed by the size of their projects.
I recommend the GTD productivity methodology over anything else out there simply for its comprehensiveness. If you follow the method, you will literally organize everything in your life.
The muscle of these organizational steroids is the Next Actions List, a list of the very next physical steps you must take to complete a project.
Strength: Provides a system for finding what is “actionable” out of all of life’s inputs. Distinguishes between projects and the physical action necessary to complete projects.
Weakness: Separates projects and next actions into separate lists. The net result is that the focus is on completing actions rather than projects.
For more on this method from David Allen’s Book Getting Things Done.
“I’m a right-brained person who needs some left-brained help”
The Action Method – from the99percent.com – focuses on how to make creative people productive. Their distinguishing characteristic is their “bias toward action.” They preach do, do, do, rather than, wait, get your ducks in a row, tweak, ask for feedback…you get the picture.
Strength: Simplicity. Their action method contains three parts, and can be put to work right away. GTD is complex and works best when you’re doing a total reboot of your productivity system.
Weakness: Because of its simplicity, this system lacks the elegance of GTD. Gaps exists within the workflow that they expect you to fill in yourself.
For more on this method read Scott Belsky’s book Making Ideas Happen.
“I want to know how my individual actions connect with the big picture”
Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People popularized productivity. For Covey, task lists start with a personal mission statement (which, though he doesn’t say so, should be influenced by a healthy amount of Scripture and accompanied by prayer), which leads to identifying your most important roles. You then develop goals within those roles, and finally plans to meet your goals. This way you can see how each task takes you one step closer to your life mission.
Strength: Emphasizes proactive behavior toward what is most important. This benefit cannot be overstated in a culture where the loudest, latest, and trendiest is hard to ignore.
Weakness: The weakness of this strategy lies in the roles. Some actions are important and necessary, but will not fall under a defined role. Take, for example, the project, “File Federal Income Taxes.” What role does that go under? Chief Family Financial Officer? What goal does that go under? Keep IRS off my back? What about a more mundane task, like take the car in for an oil change?
Learn this method right now from CJ Mahaney’s short ebook Biblical Productivity (especially the second half).
As you can see, no productivity system is perfect, and the best bet is a hybrid approach. What works best for me? A GTD foundation, 7 Habits priorities, and the 99%’s disposition toward doing (rather than endless organizing).
But the better question is, What will work best for you?
Don’t miss the rest of this series on How To Get Organized:
- 3 Signs You’re Not as Organized as You Think
- 5 Nerdy Tools that Will Make You an Organizational Jock
- You Don’t Have to Be a Neat-Freak to Stay Organized
- How To Set Up Your Files for Efficient and Effective Sermon Prep
- Find a Task List System That Fits Your Personality