For as long as I can remember, I have tried to organise my time so that I can get stuff done.
Even as a 7-year-old, I would set myself clear KPOs and keep to a strict schedule so I had more time for play! Old habits die hard. But I know I’m not the only one who likes to have structure in my life. One of my friends has ‘Sunday sort-outs’ where he divides his afternoon into the tasks he wants to complete; another has a spreadsheet with icons to tick off once goals have been achieved. And then there are methodologies like The Checklist Manifesto and Bullet Journal, which have seriously huge followings. There are whole communities of us out there who like to be organised.
I stumbled on the book Getting Things Done by David Allen on a plane journey a few years ago. The system is simple: You empty your mind to be able to engage with what is important to you. And, do you know what? It really works. It allows me to free up my mind and focus – and I know I am more productive as a result. One of the best techniques for me is mind sweeping. When I ‘mind sweep’ I capture everything I can in writing, without giving it any extra thought at the time. If you looked, you’d think I’d written in code with all the squiggles, lines and icons. But when I pick through my shorthand, I can see all sorts of patterns – and inspiration often leaps off the page. I find it so effective.
I’m also a big fan of ‘Morning Pages’, an exercise developed by author Julia Cameron. Once a week, I write down my thoughts stream-of-consciousness style. It all comes tumbling out, but I keep going for about 15-20 minutes each time. And the end result is amazing. The process of writing often helps me to resolve those niggling problems I didn’t even realise I had. It also frees up my mind, sharpens my focus and ensures I use my time well to get things done.
These techniques are simple and effective and I truly believe they can work for everyone.
What techniques do you use to free your mind and organise your time effectively?