Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A simple, short post on keeping your life simple (but not short)

My life is busy. Oh so busy. It seems that the busier I am, the more I seem to be able to get done. Especially fake tanning (it makes me feel good). And of course yoga and eating well. I always seem to find time for those important things.

How? I manage my time, prioritise and simplify my life.

Time management
Years ago I read a book about time management called Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen, which I highly, highly recommend. It was years ago, but I still follow a lot of the time management tools and rules that he espouses.

The key principles that I follow are:
1. Keep a to do list - I have a personal one and a work one. Everything is on the list so I never (read: very rarely) forget things
2. Make sure your to do list has projects and actions on it, not just vague references for things you need to do. For example, if I were planning a wedding (hint, hint), invitations would be one of my "projects" and then I would have a "next action" against that project like "research invitation design themes online". Once that action is complete, I would then work out the "next action" needed to complete the project. That way I am making sure that at all times I know what I need to do next to complete the task.
3. If you can do something in 2 minutes, do it straight away. It's often the ten little two minute tasks that play on your mind and make you feel like you have too much to do.

We spend so much time doing urgent but not important tasks, instead of doing important but not urgent tasks. The important but not urgent tasks don't really get a look in until they become urgent. Meanwhile, we've wasted loads of time of tasks that are seemingly urgent, but not that important. Try this exercise and see if it helps for you:

Look at all the tasks that you have to do. Categorise them as follows:
A - Urgent and important
B - Important, but not urgent
C - Urgent, but not important
D - Unimportant and not urgent

Do them in order from A to D. Or even better, just do A and B and forget about C and D. Sounds simple, but put it into practice and it will change your life. You'll be amazing to realise how much time you actually spend (waste) doing C and D tasks.

The most important thing to spend more time on B and less or no time on C and D.

Simplify your life
Don't just do stuff. Do important things. Do things you love. This post was inspired by a blog post on Zen Family Habits called 43 simple ways to simplify your life. Read it - you'll love it too.

PS. I am really busy today, but I decided that this was an important post and that it wouldn't take me too long to write. Voila!


Sam said...

Great post. I like the idea of simplifying things. I feel like I'm always so busy all the time. I'm sure there are things that I probably don't need to be doing. I might get the book too!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post! Really enjoyed it and will be buying the book!

Fiona said...

I like the idea of categorising into what I'm Choosing to do and what I HAVE to do.