How do you organize your day?

You know how you get into work and you know you have a TON to do, but you just can’t remember WHAT it was you had to do?

How do you cope with that?

For me, my system so far, has been writing it all down in a list the night before, then getting into work and slowly crossing them off one by one (but a whole bunch of them are sometimes just waiting for people’s emails/confirmations and/or meetings), and then re-creating my list again.

But it’s getting exhausting having to write them out again and again…

I have a notebook and I DO make notes in there, but I also put testing notes in there, and I just can’t tell what’s my notes, what’s my testing notes, and what my action is “To do”..

But at the end of the day, I look back at what I had on my list, and I get really discouraged that I accomplished NOTHING (partially because of my having to wait around for meetings/people/emails)..

I’ve heard of this 5-item list thing that’s been floating around, and I may just try it today.

Apparently you make a list of 5 things you HAVE to accomplish today, be it actions, meetings, decisions, whatver, and when those 5 things are done, you HAVE accomplished what you set out to do for that day.

Or, there’s the David Allen way of “GTD” or Getting things done

He advocates that to manage your time you have to have control and perspective.

Here are his 3 models for GTD are the following

A workflow process

To gain control over what you need to get done. This has 5 different phases:


Apparently any new task that will only take 2 minutes to do, should be done immediately. (But 2 minutes x 50 items = 100 minutes!!! Anyway.)

A framework with 6 levels of focus

And to really be able to look at the first model’s tasks and commitments, you have 6 things to consider per task:

The current actions
The current projects
Areas of responsibility
Yearly goals
5 year vision
Life goals

He suggest a weekly review that has differnet levels of focus, and to basically place everything on priority (this is not just for work, it’s for life, and your spouse, finances, WHATEVER). The top-most priority and what drives you in life, should be done first. So if you want to retire at 55, financial planning should be at the top of your list, with a action to do (like going and setting up your retirement fund), then making a quick mockup of where you want to be in 5 years, etc, to check your progress.

If you have a huge list of telephone calls to make, that’s ALSO an item on the priority list – sit down, make out a huge list, and go through them one by one, all at once, instead of doing them here and there, in little bits and bobs.

A natural planning method

This is the very last method only to be used if you need to plan and think a lot, like when you’re designing a new system, or a new marketing campaign, or how you’d like to allocate your money and your budget each month for your family.

The ‘horizontal focus’ is on individual tasks (east-west), and the ‘vertical focus’ is for planning projects and thinking through those tasks (north-south).

Individual Tasks

(Apologies for le crappy picture. I’d do a cuter one, but …. time is of the essence, and that’s why I’m posting at 6.30 a.m. LOL)

When you’re thinking or planning through the task, there are 5 stages:

1. Defining the purpose
2. Envisioning the outcome
3. Brainstorming
4. Organizing
5. Identifying next actions

While it might seem like a lot to track, store, memorize and remember, I think after time, the system is quite efficient and simple.

Personally, I’d tweak it.

I’d want just ONE model just to get tasks and mundane activities done (such as listing out the 5 items, and/or doing mass telephone calls that are important).

And I’d want another model to do that planning/thinking – which I think is a really great way to get things done (on your own that is.. in meetings, people love to ramble on and hear themselves talk and nothing really gets done in “brainstorming” sessions).

I just wish they had a model to tell people where to stuff their useless meetings.. 😛

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.