“The results of taking on too much is that nothing gets done. Or it doesn’t get done well.” ― Karen Martin
We all have stuff. Pillar 1 of my PKM is getting stuff done. My handling of stuff is a simplified version of “Getting things done: the art of stress free Productivity “ by David Allen. We are getting exposed to more information every day. It is called by many as information overload. Or, if you prefer infobesity. Harvard Business Review in an article “Death by information Overload” discusses the history and some of the sources we have to deal with. Mostly we create the problem ourselves because of the fear of missing out.
Where does your stuff come from? I get stuff from book notes, article notes, emails, tasks, ideas from others, pictures, podcasts, newsletters, etc. The fire hydrant of daily information soaks us and threatens to drown us each day. Your personal knowledge management system (PKM) serves you in two ways in this environment: 1. it stores and enables you to retrieve information in the future, and 2. it helps you identify and take action on those items that need action. We will talk about storage and retrieval in upcoming blogs. Today we are going to focus on finding the actionable items so we can get stuff done.
Step 1 is to gather all of the stuff you currently have into one location. You could use an Inbox, a cardboard box or just pile it up, but the important part is to get it all together in one place.
Then pull out a piece of paper and write down everything you can think of that is on your mind. This could be an upcoming meeting, planning a trip, planning a vacation, getting a haircut, losing weight after COVID. I think I have at least 10 COVID pounds to do something about. How about you? The point here is to get it out of your thinking mind and onto paper, so you don’t waste your brain power before you are ready to focus on a task. Once you get everything in the pile, you are ready to move on to Sorting. Don’t worry if you think of something else while you are sorting, just add it to the pile to sort.
Sorting your stuff
Now that you have everything in your pile (inbox), It is time to think about sorting. We have two general categories, each with subcategories. The key step here is to deal with one item from the pile at a time.
Each item is either trash, actionable, a future resource, or an item that you might do or be interested in Someday/Maybe.
Actionable Items-This is something I have to do at some point.
Quick Items- If it takes less than 2 minutes to complete. DO IT Now!
TASKS to be done – List them. This list is dynamic, it will grow and shrink throughout your life.
PROJECTS that need to be done- List them. these will have more than one task associated with them. When we get to our tool examples, we will show how to relate the tasks to their project. For now, just make a simple list of each of the projects and when you need to have them finished. Examples are the plan for my trip to Oregon in August, Complete Roam Untangled course by July 30, write 2 articles by Monday.
AREAS of responsibility- These are things that are ongoing. Unlike projects they don’t have a specific finish date. Examples of these for me are health, finances, writing, learning, home, and auto.
Resources- These are notes, pictures and things that are for my future reference.
Meeting Notes- You will be a star if you are the one that can find the answer to what we decide about in a future meeting. We will have a system for retrieval of information from your digital brain that will enable you to do this. Of course, you have to take notes and save them in your PKM system first (my failing.)
Course notes- Organizing your course notes in your digital brain will allow you to use flashcard style learning when studying. Also, when you finish your courses, you will be able to go back and retrieve information in the future.
Book Notes- I have notes from more than 250 books that I can search for ideas for my articles.
Article Notes – I have more than 6700 articles and screen shots of interesting tidbits I have saved for my future self to search.
Screen shots- when listening to a zoom lecture or meeting, I take screenshots of the slides the speaker uses and save them in my digital brain for future reference.
Quotes – I save interesting quotes that I run across. This is one I ran across today: “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” -Ayn Rand
Pictures- most of take tons of pictures, I have several thousand (another project.)
Documents – passport information, driver’s license information, car registration, insurance information, tax filings, doctor visits. And the list goes on. Wouldn’t be nice to have them all in one place and be able to retrieve them when you need them.
Whatever – There is no limit to what you can save for your future self in your digital brain.
This is my favorite place for the things from my inbox. These are those items that you do not want to save and don’t require any action on your part. If you are like me you will of course throw something away that you need in two weeks, but hopefully not.
These are those items from your inbox that are on hold because you may be waiting for someone else to respond before you need to take action or you’re not sure when you want to work on them, if ever.
Now that we have it all sorted, we have to have a process that allows us to get stuff done without being overwhelmed or paralyzed by the length of the lists. For example, when I look at my task list every morning before I decide what I want to work on and see between 30-50 tasks, it is paralyzing.
Don’t try to implement all of these processes at once, it can be overwhelming. Try the daily process for a few weeks and then add the weekly process and so on. Keep in mind we are trying to develop good habits, so it will take time.
I start my day by checking my calendar to see how much time I have committed. I list the time of each meeting and a few words about what it is. Saturday and Sunday I have 2 meetings, but on Monday I have 4. I know from this, how many tasks I can list to be done each day.
My next step is to scan down my task list to pick from 3 – 5 tasks I want to get done that day.
At the end of each day, I do a quick review and give myself a rating for the day.
Theme: Embrace the New
Projects-Areas focus for today
write 500 words
ck bank balances
My Weekly Process
What do I want to do this week?
projects or Areas
How did I do this week?
What could I have done better?
I am proudest of what I got done?
Things I can Improve?
The following three processes are under development at this time.
Where do we go next? These are not in any order yet.
PKM Pillar 2 your biologic brain
Left brain – right brain
PKM Pillar 3 Your digital brain
What tool do I use for my digital Brain?
One hour zoom Q&A TBS
Send me your questions or comments to Bob@theholeU.com
“You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action.” —Tony Robbins