I have asked myself that questions so many times during my career in corporate life as well as while running One Horn Transportation, “So many ideas, so many priorities, will I ever get everything done?” Although for me the answer has been that I don’t get everything done, I have been getting a lot more done on a daily basis both professionally and personally since my husband/business partner Louis Biron read a book — yes, another book — entitled Getting Things Done by David Allen.* Being the techie that he is, Louis found a web-based computer program and phone app called Doit.im, which provides an easy platform to use to enact the principles in David Allen’s book. Once I started using Doit.im, I started getting so many more things done!
Here is a brief overview about how the process works:
- Empty your mind: The whole process starts with downloading everything from your mind into your “inbox” in the app. And when I write “everything,” I mean everything. The idea is that when you spend time thinking about what you should be remembering to do, you are not doing anything productive. Remember, we are all about improving our operational efficiency and personal effectiveness, so maximizing productivity is at the top of our list. So once you trust that you download everything from your mind into your inbox, you don’t spend time telling yourself, “I have to remember to pick up the drycleaning,” Because the app is on your phone, whenever a random thought occurs to you regarding something you need to do or even an idea, just capture it in the app’s inbox.
- Identify tasks vs. projects: In his book, Allen makes the distinction between tasks and projects. As a freight agent in our business, a project could be Sales Prospecting, which if you put it on your traditional daily “to do” list, might seem overwhelming, and you would not know where to start. But if you consider Sales Prospecting as a project made up of many tasks, on a daily basis, you could attack certain tasks such as: make one hour of new calls per day, make one hour of follow-up calls per day, contact five current shippers to bring me top of mind, identify five new prospects in a given industry, and the list goes on… Then you have something concrete you can put in your “Today” list, and check it off once completed. Checking off accomplishments also provides people with a sense of achievement. I know it makes me happy to see my list dwindle as I accomplish my tasks.
- Process your inbox is the next step. And this doesn’t mean getting everything done, it means identifying what needs to be done and when. This is when you get rid of what you really don’t need to do; do the things that will only take two minutes; delegate what can be assigned to others; assign tasks to projects; and plan the timeframe in which the individual and project tasks need to get done. The program enables you to assign specific dates, “next” for sequential items, and “someday” for things you’d like to do that are not an immediate priority. The system also provides for contexts, like office, phone, errands, so when you find you have an extra 5-10 minutes between meetings, you can get some of the little things done, like phone calls.
- Daily and weekly review: What I do around 3pm every day is see what else is left in my “today” list, and identify what I can realistically complete during the rest of the day. Then I move things that were not necessarily urgent to another day or the general category called “next”. Some days I even add things when I have been particularly productive. On Fridays, I try to plan the next week so that I hit the ground running on Monday morning.
My blog today was meant to help you get started getting organized, so you can start getting more things done, become more efficient, and be happier and more relaxed. Louis became infinitely more relaxed once he started using this methodology, which got me hooked as well. We both highly recommend that you read Tim Allen’s book, though, because there is so much more to it than the app. Allen goes into how to organize your workspace and your living space, as well as project planning and how to make the right choices of what do to when. As you already know, we derive no personal gain from our book recommendations, we just enjoy sharing what has helped us improve our operational efficiency and personal effectiveness.
Since I am in a holiday mood, in my next blog I will write about how we can leverage gratitude and appreciation as a springboard to success in 2014!
– By Cheryl Biron, President
*Click through for full references on books that inspired us: http://onehorn.com/agents/get-inspired