“Someday is not a day of the week.”
Today we’re going to learn how to save some time and get some workflow on our projects!
Here’s a list of things you’ll need: Post-Its (wohoo!), a pen or pencil and three small boxes. Mark the boxes with “Inbox”, “Pending” and “Outbox”.
Now, write down headlines on the Post-Its for the things you’ve got to get done during the following day. Then write down what needs to get done under that headline. Let’s pull out an “for example” here, under the headline “Home” you could have items like “shop groceries”, “fix loose wardrobe knob” and “clean garage”. Never mind the proper use of language, just get them down!
You know how this stuff works, but let’s repeat it together OK? The Inbox is where all the stuff we have in the pipeline start off. Pending, this is where we’re put the stuff from the Inbox that we’re currently working on. Aah, sweet Outbox, this is where all the stuff that we’re done with end up!
Put all your Post-Its in the Inbox. The following day you go and pick up the first one and put it in Pending. Once you’ve completed the tasks put it in the Outbox. Hopefully you’ll have gotten a lot more done in less time than usual. Don’t worry if it took longer this time or if you had to put something back in the Inbox.
Why are we doing this? This is boring as hell! Why would we need to make a bureaucracy of our daily lives?
We’re rewiring our brains to function in a certain way, in a more efficient way. Why? Because we can get so much more done and in the process get more time for F-U-N!
What we usually do is to try and hold stuff in our heads. Remembering all the things we need to do. In the words of Dr. Phil: “How’s that working for you?”.
We’re great at memorizing stories! If you check out how these memorization exercises like “The Roman Room”/”Memory Palace” work it’s basically telling a story in your mind by having symbols for the things you want to remember. This is a skill that most people, given time, can aquire. One of my clients is working on this and checks up regularly with updates on how it’s going. And I must say that he’s made great progress in the last couple of months!
As long as we aren’t learning these techniques we have to find ways to make it work anyway. Since our usual approach is scattered and slightly chaotic, this is why we should start unloading our minds by putting the things on paper. What we’re doing with this is slowly rewiring our brains to work in these steps. But if we’re teaching our brain to rely on external devices to hold the information, isn’t that counterproductive? Not at all!
We’re learning the principles of workflow and it’s a lot more tangible if we first do it physically and then go into the mental aspect of it. This in itself is a kind of “memory palace”. If we later visualize the process of writing things down and having them in these three boxes it’ll be a signal for our brain to start the work flow process.
If nothing else you’ll have a great external system for getting things done!
A good add-on to the process is having deadlines for your projects. Write down the year, month, date and EXACT TIME when the project is due! Let’s say you’re writing a song, set the deadline to Tuesday 11th of November at 13:45 GMT.
What do we do when things get in the way? If things get urgent really quickly and the current thing needs to be postponed, just accept it. However, draw a clear line for what constitutes an emergency. Don’t use urgent things as an excuse to avoid doing what needs to get done.
One more thing. If you’ve got an item sitting in your Inbox that’s been there for an unreasonable amount of time, take a long hard look at it. Why isn’t it done? Isn’t it important? Isn’t it urgent? Is it a promise you made just to be nice? Is it EVER going to get done?
If you’re not going to do it, tear up the paper. Be honest with yourself and the other people affected by that thing getting done. Just say: “I’m not going to do this”. It’s for the best. Atleast then you know where you stand.
I’d like to finish off with a story one of our fellow creatives told.
His kid was going off to college and he’d started reflecting on how fast it all had gone by. He remember back when his kid was newly born. He had these visions of all the stuff they’d do. Then he started telling about how things went south at his work when the kid was young.
He had to set up his own company which was the best thing he’d done career-wise thus far. This took a huge chunk of his time however and some of the things he’d planned to do with his kid got put aside. He thought: “Yeah, I just need to get this done and then SOMEDAY we can do these cool things!”.
He got kind of misty eyed and said that even though they did a LOT of the things they talked about doing there was some stuff left undone. Time just kind of went by. Other stuff got in the way. Life happened.
We only get so much time to do the things we want to do. Make sure you’ve got your priorities in order and make sure to follow through!