Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I Thought This Would Be A Quiet Week (not) - An Aha Moment in Quite A Week

Quiet week? Or quite a week?  It's the time between Christmas and New Year's when we normally  "catch up" on postponed actions. You know what I mean. New fires are simply not as critical as  yesterday's supreme crisis seemed to be. It's funny how priorities change, isn't it?  That's why David Allen's Getting Things Done approach to time management resonated with me. As a highly skilled knowledge worker I am also drawn to the style of Merlin Mann; his Inbox Zero sounds a lot like the old time tickler file with a techie touch. Of course, I can improve it; my extremely superior modified version is a well tweaked merge of the two systems with a dash of this and that.  Even more exceptional: I work for the author of these plans; no, not David or Merlin.  You see, I am convinced that the CTO of our company really invented both.  (Funny, but I have yet to hear him say "GTD.") Nevertheless, he does it much better than I do, and I do it very well. He intuitively does the seven things highly effective people do; he really gets the power of all of those GTD rules, especially the one spelled "Delegate." Today I am reminded that the original productivity plan has another - me.

My implemented version of GTD has four D's - Do it, Delegate it, Delete it, or Defer it. Pretty simple, even if it takes some work; all good things do (another GTD for a different post).  Nothing new here. In the "old" days I would be using a big "Day Timer" or Franklin Day Planner. In the modern age of fast paced non-stop information and requests and spam flowing to my inbox, my tool set needed to change so I could keep up, move faster, something more virtual. Naturally, it is now "easy" to manage the seemingly non-stop input with my ubiquitous capture device, even as the device morphs from minute-to-minute to either iPad, Android phone, or laptop - after all, a desktop PC is so old-school when you have the power of the "cloud."   Easy that is until today when that last D caught up with the Double D (remember that this is me).

No reason to stress according to the extremely successful Mr. Allen's really simple guidelines. If it's not yours to do, or anyone you know, then delete it. If you can do it now in less than two minutes, just do it, or put it on an action list with the next action to move the project forward.  And if it can be, or should be, done by someone else, delegate it. It's the last one that got me this week - DEFER. When it doesn't fit with the other three D actions, or when it can be done "someday," defer it with a reminder to touch it and DO it later. Happy in my plan with the usual emergencies from an unknown aquifer bubbling and spreading across my inbox, I was so confident in the weeks leading up to the Holiday Season that I said to myself, "this crisis can wait until after Christmas and before the New Year."

As is customary, this morning I arrived at the office about 30 minutes ahead of the CTO. We had our customary chat about my projects; I sought his input, and then he left with a lesson about the 5th D when he handed me a new project saying, "I know you can get this done." As he swirled and moved to his next stop I turned to my calendar and analyzed the next steps for it.  Wait for it.  Wait for it.

I looked at what was a full calendar of deferred reminders. "Be flexible," I said, "no need to stress. You just need to find two days this week to 'get it done.'" Looks like I will be re-evaluating some of those earlier priorities using the other three D's.

(Note to self: use the other three 'Ds' more often, especially the one spelled D-E-L-E-T-E).  
And, now back to tweaking my highly superior modified system.


(Note for you:  Happy New Year!)
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