Getting Married and Getting Things Done

by Mike Shea on 29 August 2006

I'm getting married this weekend! On Sunday I will be the proud and lucky husband of Michelle Barratt Shea. It's been a few crazy months for us with a new job for me (same company, just a new customer), a new house for both of us, moving out of an apartment for me, and moving out of a house for Michelle. Her house still has to go on the market but that can wait until our two weeks in Yosemite are up. All in all, we've held up well, still able to raid in both Warcraft and Everquest throughout our last week as single people.

Last week I finished reading Getting Things Done and begain to fully embrace the program. I started with a Hipster PDA but quickly moved the system into my treasured Moleskine wrapped in a Renaissance Art leather cover. The system isn't easy at first, I had a splitting headache for three days after mind-dumping every possible task, job, goal, duty, or dream I had onto little sticky notes in my "in box". I still want a better portable version of a 43 folders tickler file. In another month or so I'll write up a longer article on my attempt at implementing the 43 folder system. Some habits are sure to stay but some will likely fall aside.

In the mean time, here are three good tips for organizing things:

  1. If a task, job, to-do, or incoming request can be done in two minutes, just do it. Don't log it, don't sort it, don't file it, don't jot it down - just do it.

  2. Any task on your to-do list should be a direct next-action - not a general fuzzy project. "Figure out a strategy for Warcraft" should be "Talk to Michelle about our favorite classes" or "Roll up a new Undead Warlock". Make every to-do item specific and actionable.

  3. Make several to-do lists and make them contextual. I have a @home list, a @site list, a @office list and a @car list. Keep lists based on where you are and put items on them that you can do at that location. "Get a haircut" should be on my @car list while "talk to customer about project x" should be @site. Contextual to-do lists make it much easier to actually check off the boxes.

There are a ton of other tips and steps I dug up over the past week from the book and from various websites including 43 Folders, one of my favorites; and Lifehacker, another one of my favorites. If these aren't on your RSS reader, they should be.

So how is it working out so far? I am getting a lot more done. Sure, its easy to joke about spending so much time organizing things instead of doing things, but I am actually getting things done that sat on my desk for a long time. It also helps get the mundane stuff out of the way so we can focus on the things most important to our lives.

In a few weeks I will do a longer review of how I incorporated Getting Things Done into my life with pictures of my trusted system and descriptions of all the steps. In the mean time, I'll be off to the west with my new wife!