Multitasking does not work. It takes 6 minutes to recover and you lose up to 15 IQ points (women lose 5 points) when multitasking. (As a comparison, you lose 5 IQ points when you are stoned. That means some of us lose at least 20 IQ points per multitask.)
I just gave a very successful corporate introduction to GTD, the “Getting Things Done” work and life management system from David Allen. In an oversimplified nutshell, GTD is a 5 step approach where you: 1) do a mind sweep of EVERYTHING, 2) determine next action for each item, 3) organize them into lists, e.g. next action, deferred, delegate, and a calendar, 4) review next action list and calendar daily and others regularly, and 5) consider the context, time, energy, urgency.
I’ve tried a number of organization systems including Franklin Covey with the 1, 2, 3, A, B, C priorities but they all fail to work well. The main problem is that priorities change quickly. Your managers, customers, colleagues can/will give you a “new crisis of the moment” and that becomes your new top priority. You also rely much on others to complete their actions before you can close your tasks so you need to keep track of them.
Some wise sayings from David Allen: “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” “If you don't pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”
For more info, read David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done”, his website: www.Davidco.com, or just Google “Getting Things Done”, “GTD” for a ton of third party information. Another nice thing about GTD is that you don’t have to buy any special supplies and can implement it via paper or software.
Update: August 7, 2102
A number of readers have asked me for my Excel file templates used for GTD. I've converted to an GTD Outlook setup but you can download the Excel template file here. Start with the first tab named "Stuff" and work your way to the next tabs sequentially by transferring items from the "Stuff" tab.
Update: June 1, 2017
A reader, Maximilianah Zales, send me a very nice email and kind enough to share her great modification to the GTD (Getting Things Done) Excel Template. You can download it here.
“ I plan on using your spreadsheet to get started, and just wanted to share with you that I added a tab to include the list of "triggers" from pages 116-120 of the 2015 edition of the book.
It will be helpful to have it on the spreadsheet (instead of the book) to be able to go through it to mentally gather things to move over to the "stuff" tab by using the filters and copy and pasting.
I thought you might want to update and share on your page.”
A "trigger list" helps jog the memory of GTD enthusiasts while doing their weekly review.
Thank you, Maximilianah!