I’ve re-read David Allen’s Getting Things Done because adjusting to life with an challenging pre-schooler, adding another family member, and how seismic and difficult it’s been to transition from work to home with frequent extended breaks for family reasons, I felt I needed to install a system that would allow me to pick up where I left off at work and know where things are at, and that’s been embracing GTD. It’s a good system for jobs that require a lot of task-related work that are seemingly never closed and doesn’t allow for a lot of deep work and a lot of paper-pushing.
In the past, I’ve relied on the Bullet Journal Method, but from changing my work from academic to business, I have to keep track of a lot more in my life that can’t be paired down into three simple things: reading, writing, and teaching. With my current job I had to adopt and develop a new system to make sure I’m staying current on all the impromptu stuff that comes up. It’s to say the least a lot different from the education work. It’s Human Resources, and while it is still knowledge work, it’s a ton of open loops in my job. Most of the work is task-related, in other words, it’s a lot of 2-5 minute steps that end up putting taking a half hour to put together one worker’s comp claim. It never closes up because then I have to wait for that staff-member to either go to their follow up appointment and send out new restrictions. Some weeks I get one worker’s comp claim and some days are so nuts I get six and I have to keep track of all of them. That’s a lot different then going to a class, teaching the class, collecting papers, reading those papers, and grading them to be turned back in a week. Which was way more manageable. So I had to develop a bigger external brain then the one I previously worked with in the form of the Bullet Journal.
It’s started with, really, Cal Newport’s system. He uses Workflowy as his main external brain paired with his calendar, he pairs it down into a Week Schedule, and then he makes a plan for every day of the week in his notebook. That’s basically what I’ve done with this job. I then use my work notebook to list out the remaining open loops, make a plan for them for the next day, and update my calendar to make sure I stay constant.