I am loving my new system of organization so much. Every day I find new things I love about it. I hope it’s not just a honeymoon period!
This morning I was in the shower and I thought of several things I wanted to do. When I got out, I wrote them down on slips of paper and put them on my desk to add to the appropriate project sheets. Done! No need to think about them any longer. I’ve realized that David Allen’s advice to think of all multi-step tasks as “projects” works beautifully, because doing this makes it easier to deal with vague, no-deadline tasks like “making my shop better” and “learning to draw comics.” Before I had the project sheets, I’d think of ideas relating to these topics, write them down, and then not know what to do with these slips of paper. I’d have a paper that said “figure out international shipping” but then… where to put it? It wasn’t something I needed to do immediately, but it wasn’t something I wanted to wait too long on either. I’d leave it on my desk and pretty soon it would be covered with books, pens, and other slips of paper, where I’d find it again in a fit of cleaning three months later… and still not know what to do with it. But now, I just break that idea into actions, add the actions to my “improve the shop” project sheet, and I can relax. I know I won’t forget it, and I know I’ll get to it eventually. And my desk stays tidy!
I’ve taken photos of my newly organized files so you can see what they look like. This is my writing desk, where I do drawing, longhand writing, brainstorming, and other various things like opening the mail. The folder lying on the desk is “in.” Project folders are in the front of the file, other folders are behind them. At the very back I have a folder full of the blank paper I use for writing project sheets, so I can start a new one at any time. Oh, and that funny-looking metal thing at the front of the file is a folding book stand.
This is the inside of my “in” file. On the left is the taped-in Project List, where I’ve written down all the projects I’m currently working on, along with suggested deadlines for each. On the right are my Action Lists (those sheets marked TO DO) and relevant papers (like printed-out directions for errands).
That cool TO DO paper comes from knockknock. I’ve used it for years. They used to use better-quality paper, and I don’t really like all their categories, but the paper size suits me, and the general punchiness of the layout just makes working so much more fun.
And here’s a glimpse at some of my Project Sheets. These are relatively simpler projects without too many associated actions.
One more good thing I’ve noticed about the system is that the one-action-at-a-time focus helps me not to fixate on how much I’m getting done each day. I already figured out a long time ago that things take longer to do than I think they will — which means I’ll get less done in a day than I think I should — but it still tends to bother me when a whole day passes and I don’t have “done” stuff to show for it. With daily to-do lists, I’d feel especially bothered, because those not-done projects would then have to carry over to the next day, and I’d feel like I failed at that day’s list. But now, I only work from the action lists, which I never have to transfer from day to day. I get to check off lots of boxes, which feels productive, and I know at the end of the day that I made progress on all my various projects even if I don’t have a finished product to show. As I said yesterday, it’s really a very yogic system!