I am very proud of my organisation system and will talk about it to anyone who will listen. I think the key to organisation is to develop your own system and believe the reason many people don’t continue using systems is because they are trying to use someone else’s structure. However, the situation has arisen that provides me the opportunity to discover if my organisation system is transferable. This is only a very small scale test because my husband, ED, has asked to learn more about my system.
ED and I have very different personalities. I like to move between things quickly and if something doesn’t work easily I move on to something else. Whereas my husband will not give up on anything until he has solved it, even if he has to think about it for several days. Our work is also different, I’m an environmental consultant working on projects in the UK while he works on international engineering projects. Therefore I am intrigued to know if my system is suitable for him and his work environment.
What already works well
I have previously been impressed by my husband’s ability to keep on top of his work load so I knew he already had some good habits. He lists these as:
- producing a defined list of daily tasks
- keeping a separate task list to his notes so they are easy to find
- spending time every evening to create tomorrow’s list so he can start work straight away in the morning
I am enviable of the last point, because I know this is an area I could improve. Even though I include an evening routine on my day planner I usually want to leave work more than I want to plan for tomorrow. However having had this conversation with my husband I have been focussing on the evening routine more this week and have already completed it twice.
Areas to improve
In conversations we have had in the past few weeks ED has also mentioned some of the areas that would benefit from more attention, they include:
- not limiting his daily task list to just what he can think of the evening before, becaues it can mean he misses things if he is very busy
- not being efficient if he does not have access to a computer e.g. travelling or only has a small time slot available e.g. before a meeting
- not covering all topics to be discussed in meetings or phone calls
- losing track of other people’s deadline for which he is ultimately responsible
- not keeping a note of all diary appointments
It sounded like my organisation system could be relevant (as would most systems based on GTD) although there would need to be some further thought on the project area because I have not developed this area much yet and our projects are different in size and nature.
What he created
Instead of providing me with my first coaching and development session ED developed his own system based on the information on this blog, referring to my organiser and asking questions.
The major difference is the size. My organiser is A5 so I can fit it in my handbag, while ED wants an A4 one, which meant none of my templates were the appropriate size. So he developed simple A4 templates for ASAP list, day planner, agendas, waiting for and projects; these are based on my forms except tend to include a reference column so he can relate it back to the relevant contract.
So is organisation transferable?
ED has now been using my system for four days with just a few tweaks such as including a reference number. There are some areas that I know he is not completely happy, particularly the ASAP list. I use the diary section for my repeating tasks and day specific tasks and my someday / maybe list for tasks I can’t start until the future, whereas ED wants his task list to include all his tasks whether he can work on them now or not. I have to admit while we were discussing this I was feeling annoyed because I know that is not the point of the ASAP task list, however I also know I have to accept that this is ED’s organisation system and if he can get the task list working the way he wants, that is great.
Here are some of his thoughts so far:
- he has not yet captured everything, but feels more in control
- the day planner is very helpful to keep him focussed and provides a framework for the day so he spends less time moving between tasks
- the current initiative is working very well and he is making good progress on his appraisal paperwork, which normally he would not have found the time to start
- he is starting to keep a list of the interruptions he gets through the day in the same day urgent box on the day planner and is realising how frequently he is interrupted
- his is starting to develop more realistic time estimates for his tasks
OK, I think four days is too short a time scale to decide whether my system works for my husband, but the signs are good that the basis of the system can be transferred. I have to admit that I’m very intrigued how ED will develop his system and I’m sure he will have ideas which will be beneficial to me.