Getting to a trusted system

How do you organize your life? I have a Sony Clie that I use for a date book and a address book. But that was not quite enough. I read some of David Allen’s book Getting Things Done and am starting to use some of the ideas. The idea set GTD has a its own dedicated group of followers, creating sites about and promoting it, how to documents on ‘getting’ getting things done. I’ve been thinking about, trying and adapting some of the ideas. Part of the book is about getting the lingo: tickler, buckets, cranking widgets… the list could go on.

The last several months I’ve included and in basket on my desk at school, it didn’t take long for students to catch on that is where anything to me needs to go, at the end of the day a mini review. I would sort the item into appropriate folders, test for algebra into the algebra folder, quizzes to grade for physics – the physics folder. It means lots of folders, but there is a certain amount of stress that is carried by the folders and not the ‘back of my mind’. Case in point:

I did a field trip the the Franklin Institute with my freshman science class, we took Septa into the city. Planning this event was less stressful that the last time. Everything pertaining to the trip was in a folder. When the tickets came – into the folder, copies of questions the students needed – into the folder when I had them typed and copied, rough drafts of letters informing the parents of the trip – into the folder. When I had a few minutes to work in the planning pull the folder out when the next class started or there was a student needing help with something – sweep everything into the folder. When it was time to work on it again I knew where everything was, I didn’t have to try and remember where I had been putting things. The night before the trip it was a matter of asking “where is the folder?” I knew right away I had everything together and ready, I would show up on the platform with a dozen kids and realize the tickets where in some desk drawer back at school.

Using the memo file of my Palm based PDA has helped me gather loose thoughts throughout the day. I have a notepad file that I put snippits of ideas I might blog about, another has some books I would like to check into (or rather check out of a library), another has ideas I could maybe try to make my teaching better. You have had those ideas, thoughts that seem great but never seem to be around when you could implement them.

Is GTD an answer for everyone? No, but it is helping me get things into a less crazy state. If you can get past the ‘zen’ like phrases the get dropped from time to time and realize this is about creating a method of keeping track of all the loose ends that seem to fly around anyone that is asked to do anything, it might help.

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