Monday, February 6, 2012

(Not) Getting Things Done

This is kind of a delayed post, and not to make any excuses but before I delve into it, I just want to say I haven't been helped by feeling unwell the last few days.

So, we had a part of a session on a method for keeping track of all the things you need to do and working through them efficiently, while also freeing your mind from needing to keep track of it all.  This lesson was timely, in that I was having a lot of things to do come up (including the different elements of this course) and keep track of.  But it was also bad timing, in the sense that I felt I had too much on my plate to try to spend some time experimenting with a new method for managing my work flow.  In the past few days I have faced a busy work period, lots to do for this class, a period of deadlines for work in my professional association, and sudden unexpected employment opportunities.

As it turned out, at first I couldn't get to the document for this assignment, and then did get it after a couple of days.  Both in reading the session explanation, and the document, I felt that I already do most of this though with a couple of notable exceptions.  These are having a formally set weekly review time of it and having a long-term goal section clearly spelled out.  Another weakness I have is not having different elements in one unified area.  I do currently have a list (on paper) on my desktop (physical) at work where I have all the regularly recurring tasks (planning lesson X or Y, making and copying the weekly vocabulary quizzes, prepping materials for committee meetings, etc.).  These are laid out according to each day or days of the week I should be doing them, sometimes with smaller elements of a larger task listed out below it.  Then to the right are columns of check-boxes for each week to check items off as they are done.  Below this list is an area to write in different tasks that come up (which I can't do immediately when they come up) in pencil, allowing me to erase them when done and free up the space for new ones.  I review this every morning, and when I have completed a task and have time to work on something else.  For non-work tasks, I keep a list on my iPod Touch, which I manage in a similar way to the pencil part of the work list.  The biggest difficulties in this have been that my long-term tasks and my more immediate ones have been all lumped together and that I haven't set a consistent review time or system.  I plan to start building these elements in.  I have also been building in using online calendars and automatic reminders, but I am still less than satisfied given that in many cases I am not connected to the Internet where/when I want to add or check these items.

One way in which this lesson, combined with the one on documents, did serendipitously help me immediately was with the above mentioned employment opportunities.  I was suddenly made aware of a couple of openings for the coming academic year (starts April 1st in Japan), one of which I was aware might be available a year from now and intending to apply for at that time.  Since I had spent time on the resume update, that was pretty much ready to go.  In the GTD part, having been prompted to spend some time thinking about longer-term goals meant I was better prepared for writing a cover letter as well as preparing for an interview.

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