Organising is a bugbear of mine. I’ve tried implementing David Allen’s Getting Things Done system, but the end result has been more mess than mastery of all things me. Still, I’m coming back to the idea of ensuring that I have a place for everything important in my life and a way of ensuring I remember the things I need to do when I’m in the ideal time and place to get them done in.
While that goal is still some time and work off, I recently discovered two tips – both organisational, but one also mindset-oriented – that are helping me get the hang of where I am right now and what I need to concentrate on.
About a week ago, I downloaded and listened to an episode of Joel Zaslowsky’s Smart and Simple Matters podcast. In that episode, he had a sit-down chat with Emilie Wapnick, the founder of the blog “Puttylike” which advocates the idea of multipotentialism. They talked a lot of practical stuff, but two subjects in particular stuck with me, mostly because they go together so well.
During the podcast, Joel and Emilie mentioned how they keep a list of their current five priorities to hand while working and make sure they spend some work time every day developing all of them. I wound up whipping a note book out not long later and listing the stuff that my brain kept telling me I needed to be doing, then knocking it down to the five I was either doing right now or needed to get done soon.
Emilie and Joel also mentioned “launch dates”, which was another eye-opener for me. Again, it’s a concept msot of us are familar with, except I’d lay odds that a good lot of us call them “deadlines.”
Joel explained launch dates especially well; the idea that there’s a date at which you can show your progress off to the world, even if “the world” is just a small and immediate circle of folks. It’s a much more positive, anticipatory angle than the “oh, crap, I have to get this finished by X” undertone of “deadline.”
That “showing your progress off to the world” bit also gives you a nice edge of accountability – it’s not just a date you’re racing to meet, it’s also a bunch of people who are going to have to wait for your new awesomeness that much longer if you don’t hit launch. And is that cool, I ask you?
My Five Priorities and their Launch Dates
In the name of putting these ideas into practice (and also giving an example), here are my current five priorities:
Now, by “bathroom,” I mean it in the English / Australian sense of a room of whole-body cleanliness; our lavatory is in a different room – although we’ve actually done that one as part of this priority.
The bathroom has been lurking on our mental project list for a while. The ceiling had mould through the white paint, the cinderblock was painted a jarring shade of lime green, the medicine cabinet only had one of its two sliding mirror panels (thanks to me) and the vanity unit was slowly crumbling due to water being trapped between it and the shower stall. Not only that, there wasn’t much room to move.
We’d done some bits and pieces – a new shower head and tall cabinet – but once her eye surgeries were done (lens replacements due to cataracts) Vickie decided enough was enough and got us started on really renovating it. I stripped and re-painted the ceiling and the green cinderblock and my stepson Karl installed a new sink, vanity and medicine cabinet. Left to go is a new window, which we’re waiting on a final quote for; with any luck we should be done in a couple more weeks.
We plan to launch our refurbished and repainted bathroom to our immediate family and any visitors to our place on Sunday, August the 25th.
I started this post off by talking about wanting to be organised; more specifically, I’d like to have a productivity system along the lines of the aforementioned Getting Things Done. Hey, I mightn’t be into RPGs as much any more, but I still like the idea of systems.
I want to make sure Everything has a Place, that I know or can quickly find out where I’m at with the big things in my life and (ideally) can have a handy set of lists full of Next Actions that I can choose from wherever / whenever I am.
I’d also like to be rid of the crud that I’ve held onto but don’t really need any more. I’ve blown cash on a lot of stuff that I thought would help me have fun times with fun people (tabletop RPGs, game consoles) but have mostly just taken up shelf space instead; aside from some particular mementoes I think it’s time to cut ties and shuffle them off.
I plan to launch my smoothly-operating productivity system and organising habits to myself and my wife by (sucks teeth) Friday, November 1st.
Now this one’s a tricky priority as its success is dependent on a dog’s biology. Our fifteen month old bull arab has a nasty allergic reaction to something in our yard; we think it’s some mulch that we’ve spread all over the place, and we have a big yard so it’s pretty hard / expensive to isolate the trouble spots. We have her on a course of medications but the moment she came off the last lot the rash was back in a handful of days.
I want to get in the habit of properly taking care of our poor little woof; we have some medicated washes that I ought to be bathing her in more often than I do (which is almost never) and I ought to be giving her a wipe off every time she comes in from the yard.
I plan to launch our gorgeous rash-free Sookie to myself, my wife and our older dog Ziggy by Monday, September 30th.
I have a real problem with peace of mind. Have done for years. I have this horrid tendency to Fear the Worst Outcome of every action I could take; as a result I have little self confidence. I either don’t do things or rush them in an effort to get them over wit6h as quickly as possible.
And I’ve noticed that some of the reason I rush is because I’m not breathing properly.
In an effort to both calm and properly oxygenate my over-revving brain, I want to establish a habit of meditation. I’ve been reading the blog Zen Habits by Leo Babauta, who’s really big on both meditation and consciously forming new, good habits; he recommends choosing a habit and sticking with it for a couple of months. With meditation, he suggests starting with a daily two-minute session and working up from there.
I plan to launch my habit of daily meditation to myself, my wife and my friends and family by Monday, September 30th.
The Vegetable Bed.
This is a project I’m keen on for three main reasons: Firstly, growing our own veges is a money-saver. Secondly, it’s an encouragement to be more aware of my eating habits – I eat very well, thanks to my wife, but I don’t cook myself and tend to take food a bit for granted. Thirdly, it’s a great outdoor and zen (see “Meditation” above) activity. Our garden is another area I’m slack in, and I reckon the vege bed is a great place to start getting into the habits of a gardener (weeding, feeding, pruning, maintenance, et cetera).
At the moment, our vege bed is partway overgrown; we have some good crops of onions and carrots on the way, and though our bought tomato vines are dying, the seeds from the last crop are sprouting up all over the bed. The main thing for me at the moment is working the vege bed’s maintenance tasks int my (thus far shaky) daily routines.
I plan to launch our fully weeded and growing vege bed and my daily / weekly maintenance habits to myself, my wife and my friends and family by Monday, September 30th.
One of the good things about listing my priorities and setting launch dates is the idea that once I’ve launched one priority, I have a slot free that I can plug another priority on the back-burner list into and get started on. There are, of course, lots of these, but the ones I’m keen to kick off include getting the Foxy Lady going, finishing my Aleph miniatures, making some terrain for Infinity and fixing the house’s deteriorating front deck.
Keeping On My Priorities
One thing I’ve done since I set the above priorities is go back to a handy online tool called Don’t Break The Chain, which I last posted about way, way back in the old IMAGinES days. I’ve set up three rolling calendars: One for the 5AM Challenge, one for two minutes of daily meditation and one for journaling. I’m at a couple of days for each, but everyone has to start somewhere!
Are you producing?
What are your current five priorities? How far along with them are you? What are their launch dates, and to whom are you launching?
Are you curious?
What productivity hacks have you implemented in your life?