When you look at what is on the market about organisation and productivity, you get an overwhelming load of books, courses, software and apps.
Should you use an app for your morning routine? What is the best calendar? And the best to-do list? Is it better to use paper and a pencil or use one of the many to-do list apps that you can use on your phone?
Is it better to concentrate on focused deep work, on setting up a good morning and evening routine, meditate before you get to work? Should you be journaling to stay motivated? And should you use lists, time boxes or Kanban boards?
The easy answer is: “It’s all up to you. It’s a personal choice.” And while that is true, for me, it is too easy to take that for an answer.
See the wood for the trees
While every book, course, software or app, certainly has its merit, in this world of information overload, it is difficult to see the wood for the trees.
And while there are lots of useful software and apps to get organised and to be more productive, they are tactics and operational tools. They are the branches and the leaves of a tree. But you don’t have a tree if the roots and the trunk are not there.
In other words, choosing an app or software to organise your passions, projects and tasks is one of the last steps just before execution. Organisation never starts with selecting an app and then moulding everything you need to do into this one mould.
Any book, course, software or app is useless if you don’t have the basics right. If you set your baselines right, all tactics follow from there naturally and a choice for pen and paper or software or an app becomes easy.
What are the baselines?
A logical next question is “What are the baselines then?”
1. Develop your vision, mission, and strategies
First of all, you need to know what it is that you want. It sounds easy, but it isn’t. Knowing what you want starts with knowing yourself and being honest with yourself. From there you can develop your vision, your mission and your strategies to fulfil your multiple purposes (see One lifetime is not enough).
2. Optimise your day-to-day and maintenance work
To free up time for your various interests, passions and projects, you need to have your daily work sorted out and optimised. If you spend all your time on day-to-day maintenance, there’s no way to succeed in any project. This also sounds easy and logical, but it isn’t.
I remember when I was single, I had lots of time for hobbies, friends, travelling etc. Once settled and with kids, it’s a whole other story. If you want tips on how to optimise your day-to-day work, check out my post ‘How to optimise your day-to-day work’.
3. Manage your Passions Portfolio
So, you now have more time for your interests, passions and projects; then the art is to manage a portfolio of all those different passions and projects that we multi-potentialites have. Managing a passions portfolio means setting it up and keeping your portfolio up-to-date, so you always have an overview of what you have going on.
If you want to know how to set up a passions portfolio, subscribe to the Passions Pilot newsletter to get free access to the course: “Set up your Passions Portfolio in Five Easy Steps”.
There are some rules to keep in mind, and they are valid rules across the baselines.
- If you are waiting to have all your day-to-day work optimised before you can start your passion or project, you will probably never get to the passion or project you wanted to start. Keep a balance between optimising/working on your day-to-day stuff and projects. Following your situation, this can range from a ratio Maintenance / Projects 50%-50% to 80%-20% of your time awake.
- Do a brain dump. Capture everything you need to do, everything you ever want to do and everything else you think of in your personal dream catcher. And keep doing so continuously. This frees up energy in your mind. You know where to find all your ideas, bucket list, things to do, etc., so you don’t need to remember them.
- Keep 1 point of definition. This is one of the basic principles in IT. It means that something is defined only in one place and when the information is needed somewhere else, there is just a link to it.
Keep only one calendar, one list with projects, one to do list, one place where to keep notes, one repository for documents, pictures, music, etc. Oh, and only keep one version, the last one (but do take a back-up), and put the rest in an archive. Do the same for tangible stuff.
- Keep “Work in progress” limited. Start a task, and finish it. End to end! End-to-end means that the task is finished but also that documents are filed, material is put away and the place is tidied up. You can get messy while working. You can have a special place where you do only messy stuff, like a studio where you do your artwork. it still is a good habit to tidy up when a task or work is finished.
You will need some amount of discipline in all this. When I was younger, I hated the word ‘discipline’, and I thought it was the opposite of ‘creativity’. With time, I learnt that discipline is not a dirty word. It helps you keeping things organised so that with the time you gain, you can be creative.