One of Those Days…

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Today I had one of those days.  Seriously. 

Oh wait!  I bet you think it was a bad one, huh?  Why is it that when we talk about having “one of those days,” it usually goes on to mean it was a day from Hell?  Well, I’m not here to argue, but it was one of those days – one of those days you just don’t have everyday.

Last night I returned from a 2 day business trip across the state.  Sometimes that is like coming back from vacation – lots of emails, lots of phone calls and lots of catch-up.  Like a medical professional who has a practice, that is how I consider myself within the Getting Things Done world.  It’s my practice.  So by practicing GTD for almost a year, I came back from my trip in pretty decent shape.  I processed over a hundred emails within 30 minutes, made some appointments and phone calls got a few things done for the day.  So far, so good.

The local newspaper where I live publishes a weekly business journal.  In today’s edition was an article I had written that covered a few posts I have done on this blog – the majority being on Push-Pull Marketing.  Not only did this serve to help others like others have helped me, but it furthered the organization I work for.  So far, even better.

After lunch Senator John Thune came by the children’s hospital I work for and we met with him for more than an hour about how to help children with autism that we serve.  It also gave me the chance to let him know what a big fan my father is of him, especially when he beat Tom Daschle a few years ago.  And I’m not done yet.

Processing a few emails by the end of the day I came across no less than three emails from various departments all favoring the recent endeavors of my staff.  Not only were those people happy about the creative work we did but they were also favorable about how they were treated.  I’m almost done.

Coming home, I looked at my blog and there was the cherry on top of the sundae.  The number of hits for today tied my best day ever.  Don’t get me wrong – I like doing this blog for my own sake and for returning the favor to others of what I learn from them.  But seeing that the things I write hit a small chord with others in the blogosphere does warm my heart a bit.  

Today was one of being productive, receiving recognition and of being rewarded.  It was a lot like this blog and also like life.  If you put effort into your life, then over time it will come back to you.  As a motivational speaker once told me, “No Deposit, No Return.”  I’m encouraged more than ever to continue and I hope this will encourage others to stay the course in whatever you do.  Make good choices.  Help others.  And one day you will have one of those days too.  Seriously.  

GTD Simplified – Lifehacker style

Getting Things DoneAs a “special” treat, it’s not one, but two, that’s right TWO blogs in one day!  Crazy times, life on the edge, kooky stuff today.  Tomorrow it’s overdue book encouragement day, but for now, let’s settle down and get to business. Lifehacker.com‘s author, Gina Trapani, wrote how she has adapted GTD to fit her.  Worth a look.  

Put off today what you can do tomorrow…

Email inboxIf you look around the GTD world, if you listen in to board rooms, conference rooms, at the water cooler, on phone conversations to spouses and on and on you’ll hear the same groan – email.  Email hell, email jail, inbox/sinbox; it’s all the same.  Email is the new voicemail.  We’ve made ourselves available in an all too easy fashion.  Despite our best attempts at a great day, email is there waiting for us at work in the morning with an evil grin.  During the day, best laid plans to keep the inbox clean never come to fruition (save for an issue with your IT/IS department).  We can obsess about keeping the inbox at zero all we want but the fact remains it is a futile fight. I am happy to report that on numerous occasions while implementing GTD that I have been able to put things into context and I have been able to clean out my inbox on a Friday afternoon (and sometimes other days as well).  But the best of us still back slide at times.  It’s inevitable.Numerous websites have offered up a few tips like answering your email 2 times a day and actually auto-replying to all emails that you only answer at this time or that time.  That’s a difficult proposition for those who don’t have laid out schedules that start and end at the same time each day.  It may work for some – it just doesn’t work for me.Over the weekend I came across another thought about email.  Actually it’s part of a 32 page e-book from Mark McGuinness called Time Management for Creative People.   Mark has many great thoughts adapted from Getting Things Done, but he adds his own including how to focus better at work and how to “ring-fence” your creative time so that you save a special time of the day for when your creative juices are at their highest.  But one of my favorite points is simply this – don’t answer your email until the following day.  By waiting one day you allow yourself the luxury of not becoming a slave to email.  By waiting one day you know the next day how much email you need to reply to and can schedule yourself accordingly.  When you have answered that last email a sense of accomplishment should reside within you for the day’s achievements regardless of how many emails you may need to answer the next day.  Mark does point out the need to talk with your boss about this, but for those who have understanding employers this may make you not only a creative individual, but an accomplished one as well.    

It Can Happen To You…

It can happen to anyone – you’re waist deep in your GTD program.  You’ve perused all of the online software and whether its web-based or not, you decide on what you need.  You purchase your note cards, your filing system, your labelmaker, your Moleskine and any number of other doo-dads as you undertake your Getting Things Done initiative.  The weeks go by and you’re faithful to your weekly review.  You feel free.  And then it happens. One week you’re out of town the latter part and didn’t think on how to re-schedule your Weekly Review.  Worse yet, you’re out of town the second week in a row and then all of a sudden you feel like a 7 year old who can’t swim, but was just tossed into the deep end.  Your breathing quickens, your arms start flailing and you realize you’re not as good at this as you thought. If anyone has ever been there where life takes you from the norm and you struggle to get back to the mid-line, drop a comment.    

Moleskine (try to pronounce that!)

Finally, it’s time to post a little on one of my favorite topics, GTD – or as those in the dark would know it – Getting Things Done.  A wise and controversial man by the name of David Allen wrote a book many years ago called “Getting Things Done.”  If you’ve not read it yet and are interested in productivity, put your keyboard down and run to the nearest bookstore.  A few years ago I sat at my desk in utter despair.  I was surrounded by projects, cast into chaos at the sheer number of items I needed to get done to make my life more prosperous.  With emails and voicemails by the 100’s, life was stressed to say the least.  Like you I suffered through, somehow surviving, but wondering what was the secret that so many others must have had in their arsenal to get them by.  GTD is the answer for me.  And we could blog on and on about GTD as many do.  But, let’s start with a simple tool.The themed picture for this blog entry is the Moleskine, a basic tool for most GTD’ers.  GTD teaches that you must clear your head of all ideas, tasks, projects, events, etc.  You feel less stress once you get these items out of your head and onto paper so that you can refer to them later in life.  I strongly concur!  For $15-$20 a Moleskine can be yours, or if you prefer a cheaper route, your local Target has a lower priced version that I’ve used as well.A Moleskine has about 100 pages or more, depending on the size.  The paper is nice to the touch and many who use them comment on the sensory experience of writing in them given the right pen.  I like others have used the Pilot G-2 when writing and it completes the experience altogether.  Odd blog here, you may say, but try it and you’ll know what I’m talking about.Subsequent blogs will discuss this topic.  In the meantime, capture your thoughts, your dreams, your ideas, your tasks onto paper before your forget them.  Don’t rely on your brain so much.  You owe it a break.