Marketers, by the very nature of their job function, must juggle numerous campaigns, a range of portfolios, multiple channels, and various corporate, political, and personnel issues—all simultaneously.
Do you have multiple action lists running concurrently in your brain? Or great ideas buried within files, folders, emails, Post-It notes, and to-do lists? If that sounds like you, join the club! But I have to warn you: This is one club I'll be resigning from soon.
Like so many folks, I made a New Year's resolution—to get organized, to get the clutter out of my head and into a system where I don't have worry about it on a daily basis, but where it will pop up when the time is right for action. And I have discovered how to do it.
Perhaps you saw my post on the MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog on January 1, when I resolved to transform the way I work and live, to get everything out of my head and into a system. That system, if you read my post, is Getting Things Done, or—as it's known among practicing aficionados—GTD.
Getting Things Done is a best-selling book by productivity guru David Allen. It is also a process and a philosophy. Once you stop using your brain as the holding tank for all the important things that you need to do today, tomorrow, next week, or even further into the future, the sooner you become clear and your mind will be open to wander, unfettered. Only then can your creativity truly be unleashed, and you reach a state of flow that David Allen refers to as "Mind like water."
I am a creative person, so reaching that state of flow is very important to me. I get bogged down in details, my head cluttered with to-do's. If this sounds at all familiar to you, then you may be an excellent candidate for a Getting Things Done overhaul.
The first step in the process is to get everything out of your head and into one place. You may have to set aside several days for this step. It involves culling through all the Post-It notes, backs of envelopes, lists, active files, mail, and so forth that have not been fully processed and organized. I, for one, had a number of Word documents full of a mish-mash of ideas, to-do's, and reminders.
Once you have aggregated it all into one place, you can begin to process it. A simple but critical trick here is to act on anything that can be dealt with in two minutes or less—right then and there. Don't move it around on to other lists. Just get it done. That approach alone has been hugely valuable to me because I tended to touch the same email over and over again even though it would have been a less-than-two-minute task to reply to it, forward it, delegate it, or do whatever needed to happen to get it out of my face and acted upon.