Getting things done.

I've always been pretty unorganized; coming from an initially "creative" career, it seemed appropriate.  But I don't think I can cope with the complexity of 30-something life (career, commuting, home, money, parenthood, husband hood, school, sports ...) without getting my shit together.

I spent this weekend doing just that -- electronically. It's funny, but I didn't buy a new suit or a new briefcase; I downloaded Google Chrome, re-started my Remember The Milk account, and created a bunch of new folders. Lame, maybe, but it feels good on a Sunday night. Here's what I picked up:
  • I think there should be a constitutionally enshrined law that no folder can contain more than 7 items, and no more than two of those can be other folders. Ideally, bookmark bars should have folders with 3-5 items; you should be able see the contents of every folder at once, not by reading.
  • When you're trying to get organized, I think it's helpful to have an "all the stuff I have to do eventually" list, and then ... in some totally different application (RTM?) your top 5. Give each of the top 5 a fair time estimate. Look at your week; do you have five, 30-hour days?
  • Create a minutiae list: don't cram your top 5 list with junk. Everyone has points in the day where they feel like doing nothing (ie. engaging in flame wars on digg). Working through your minutiae is only a bit more taxing.
  • I swear this is the nerdiest thing ever. And not in a cool-but-geeky way; like in a pocket protector way. But if you're part of the creative economy, you probably need David Allen. I read about him on a flight two years ago; read his first book. It helped a lot. (10 second take away: purge your brain of Things To Do by itemizing them all [like all!] and scheduling each one)
  • After downloading Chrome, I set up a series of web applications "on" my desktop. Google Docs is neat, but it was also a few clicks to get into something (say I've got a page of jokes I think up randomly ... okay, I have a page of jokes I think up randomly). A theme that drives Google, I think, is that 0.5 seconds is much much better than 3.5 seconds. If you want to do something on a computer, and you click, 3.5 seconds can be extremely annoying, so much so it becomes a barrier. Frankly, I store random thoughts in txt files, because they seem to open instantly. Chrome is quick, and my jokes list is up in ... about 1 second even.