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Sunday, 22 February 2015

How to change your life for the better, just for a one off payment of £7.07

This applies, not only for business, but in many cases for your home life as well. David Allen has certainly set the world alight with his efficiency system. To have him come and help you - he spends whole weekends helping captains of industry get sorted, at sums which would make your eyes water.

Fortunately for many of us, he has set out his ideas in a book. Amazon UK have his book "Getting Things Done" for only £4.68 in Kindle format or £9.79 if you'd prefer the paperback - I have purchased both. He goes into the theory pretty deeply before he comes to the nitty-gritty, but without his lead-in, the full description wouldn't be of much help. Since finishing the book, I have totally re-organised my home office rebuilt my four drawer filing system from scratch, and thrown out a ton of "clutter".

There are many apps in the market place which try to handle @GTD (Getting Things Done) but many just don't do it for me, they are mostly over complicated, and take up too much time.

A GTD app I really like is Chaos Control. It has nice clean lines and is very easy to work with. It is in its early stage but the writer says that, although he has lots of plans for it, he intends to K.I.S.S. (which stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid).

One notebook app I have been using has been Evernote. I used it just to keep snippets of information but never really rated the software.

This all changed when I read Steve Scott's book, "Master Evernote". Quite frankly, the book astonished me. I had never realised the power of the program until I read his book.

However, you would be very much advised to get your manual system set up as David Allan suggests before looking at Evernote. I didn't and after I set up all the stacks, folders and tags, found I had done them all incorrectly, and had to start all over again. Take my advice and master the manual system first.
A nice thing about Evernote is they aren't greedy; they are happy not to push you onto their subscription model and both models have unlimited cloud storage. It's just that the free model restricts the size of a single file to 25MB (I've never got anywhere near this) and the monthly allowance of uploads is 60MB which would only be limiting if you are just setting up GTD.

I am in the process of going through my filing system and using Scanbot to scan a lot of material I may never need (tax documents over two years and up to 7 years). I now keep these in scanned folders in Google Docs. I then delete the 8th year and add the 2nd year on each April 6th. The same for DWP files.

In every filing system there are those documents you keep 'just in case', I am in the process of scanning all those documents and saving them to Google Docs. I use the Scanbot app - absolutely terrific and you can scan to Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs and many cloud services. I have set mine up for Google Docs and Evernote. To keep my filing system manageable, I only keep this year and last year's docs in my filing system and scan older docs and post them up to Google Docs at the end of each year.

In fact, this article has taken me longer than I thought. I have integrated @GTD with my life. At home, we are going systematically through each room, taking out everything from cupboards, and stripping out all the old junk we have collected over the years. We are having to delay this objective over several weeks as our wheelie bins are rapidly filling up. The next collection day will see me approaching my neighbours for extra space.

Our filing system has been totally overhauled in the room we use as a study/office. It's in four drawers. I bought new dividers, and filing pockets, and used our Dynotape labeller to label each divider so it is neat and so easy to read. Filing is actually a pleasure now.

I have totally stripped my Notebook names and tags from my Evernote documents, and used the @ labels of @GTD as tags. This way I file everything in the proper notebook and use the tags to warn me of what needs doing. It saves future decisions on filing. Now I am going through all my documents using new Notebooks for filing and tags for actions and divisions. Evernote sits on my desktop, phone and tablet so all the information is always with me.

I have a physical 4.5" x 7"  ringbinder (so it opens flat) notebook with hard plastic covers for my lists. David Allen is a firm believer of lists and @GTD shows how useful they can be if approached properly. It has a loop for a pen so I never need to search!

There's a terrific @Tickler folder on Amazon. The 'Pagna 24446' has 43 folders for future action papers. 1 to 31 for the days of this month and 1-12 for this whole year. It is used perpetually so the folders are always for the future.

If your email reader allows you to use tags, GMail calls them labels, you're in luck. When a document comes in, I action what I can, following the two minute rule (do now what can be done in two minutes) and label it with the correct @label, and file it straight away. Gone from my InTray. However, If I click on the @Action label, up pops all the emails that need action. Or click on Incubate, and see all the things for Someday/Maybe. Having an empty inbox in my email program is a little bewildering at first!

When I am out and about and I think of something that must be done, I tap my smartwatch and record what action I need to take. This is immediately posted to my Evernote Inbox and goes to my desktop, tablet and phone immediately.

The major benefits for me is, at 75, being a heavy drinker in my youth, my short term memory is severely buggered; in fact sometimes when I tap my watch and say "Take a note" I have already forgotten what I was thinking of! Fortunately that doesn't happen very often. The other benefit is, when out in the cold of winter, I don't need to get my phone out or take my gloves off. I just need to say "OK Google" and then make a note.

Evernote is ideal for saving tweets, with photographs, for repeated use. I can also auto forward any tweet to Evernote using IFTTT once I 'favourite' it.

IFTTT is another story, but one worth investigating. (They have now changed the name to IF.)

Finally a footnote on Ken Blanchard's book, "The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey". This is for people who find themselves in all levels of management. When a member of staff comes to you with a problem, he or she has a "monkey on their back".

As soon as you take control of the problem, the monkey leaps off their back on to yours. The book is only 155 pages and is the best management book I have read, and I have read over a hundred. The book shows you (a) how to avoid the monkey leaping on to your back and (b) how to grow junior staff to become supervisors and managers in their own right.

When a junior moves to your company he has probably been shouted at during his first couple of jobs for making mistakes. When he gets to you, he has learned to keep his head down and no longer uses his initiative. The book shows you how you can rekindle the flame.

Have fun. If you already use GTD and use shortcuts, feel free to add them below.


Getting Things Done by David Allen £9.79 Paperback :: £4.68 Kindle
Master Evernote by S J Scott £4.99 Paperback :: £2.39 Kindle
The one minute manager meets the monkey, £5.24 Paperback
Evernote web app Free - Premium is £4 a month or £45 a year.
Evernote Apps, Android and iPhone Free
Scanbot app for Android and iPhone Free but worth buying
Pagna 24446 43 divisions folder.

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