Posted by: bevmeldrum | September 25, 2007

Getting Things Done – Part 1 of 3

I am a great believer in getting organised. It helps that I am quite an organised person anyway but I did find with my current job that juggling a number of different roles and projects was becoming overwhelming.

For social entrepreneurs I think this issue is key to allowing us to achieve the social change that we are aiming for. By nature more often than not, social entrepreneurs are action people – they just want to get out their and get on with their projects. The idea of administration and systems just isn’t of interest.

However, my argument would be if you can get yourself organised then you can actually even more. You just need to find a system that fits how you naturally think then it just becomes second-nature and not something you feel you are wasting precious time on.

I think I may have found that system.

Two years ago, I was introduced by a friend to a system called ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen. I read the book, started implementing the system and haven’t looked back since.

The premise is this – most of us try to remember things in our head, but our memory isn’t always reliable – we often forget things and there’s often so much going round in heads that we don’t know where to start. David Allen suggests we regularly empty our heads.

I had a call from one of my clients the other week who was struggling to get anything done and was panicking because everything they had to do just felt so overwhelming and they were about to go on holiday and everything needed to be finished before they left.

He had got into one of those situations where you know you need to get a whole lot of stuff done but you are in such a panic you just can’t actually do anything. I’ve certainly been there before many a time.

My suggestions was to go out to a coffee shop for an hour. I suggested he take a blank notepad and a pen and whilst he was in the coffee shop just write down everything that was going round in his mind. Just that process of emptying his head of everything and putting it down on paper he found really helpful.

He then went through his list and prioritised all the items he did actually need to get done before he left, and those he thought would need to get done but could actually wait, he left.

Then he picked three tasks he wanted to do next, went back to the office and got on with them.

I still find it amazing how time out emptying your head like that can help bring back perspective and kick you back into gear.

David Allen, in ‘Getting Things Done’ suggests we do this process of emptying our heads once a week.

Why not try it now – for just ten minutes sit down somewhere quiet and write down everything that has been going round in your head. How does that feel?


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