Getting It Done

Re-entry after vacation is always tough. Robert is having a really heavy week. Me, I managed not to overload the early part of the week, and now have a day with 19 to-do items on it. Oops.

It's hard to feel like you're getting anywhere with 19 items on your to-do list, especially when some of those items are people oriented things like pastoral care and phone calls, the quality of which suffer when you reduce them to items on a checklist. They take as long as they take.

My challenge today (and every day) is to move through this stuff as graciously as possible. One trick I've heard is to look at the to-do list and ask, "What are those things that, if I only did those items, I would feel satisfied with my day?"

David Allen of Getting Things Done fame talks about having a "mind like water"---putting processes in place such that your mind isn't cluttered with stuff, but focused on the task at hand. I'd rather spend mental energy researching a four-week adult study for Advent than trying to remember where I put the stamps, for example.

What do you do to cultivate a 'mind like water'? Aside from a general GTD approach to my work, here are a few of my organizational tricks that make my life more harmonious... with no claims of originality:

1. Each night I organize my to-do list for the next day, organized by "context"---e-mails I need to send, errands, stuff I need to think about/write, paperwork. This way I can batch like items together and get into an e-mail groove, or a phone groove, etc.

2. Laminated morning lists for the girls: they use a dry-erase marker to check off each item (breakfast, brush hair, put homework in backback) so I don't have to nag them as much.

3. Related to that: I put everything on the table they'll need: hairbrush and rubber band, toothbrush and toothpaste, vitamins, etc. And I do it the night before because I'm always rushed (and often cranky) in the morning.

4. I put my workout clothes beside the bed so I don't even need to have the light on in order to get dressed.

5. I keep all note-writing and bill-paying supplies in a single basket: note cards, envelopes, checkbook, church directories, stamps, address labels.

What about you? Any tricks to share?

Image is of the GTD collection process.