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Friday, April 2, 2010

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures

I'm feeling very overwhelmed lately with everything I have going on. It must be the phase of the moon or something, because it's not just me: every time I've called my sister this week we wind up going on for an hour about all the things we're freaking out about.

I emailed Sandy a photo of the hot mess that is My Planner This Week (MPTW), something we do for each other often. It gives us ideas of how to use our planners, and also helps each other understand what's going on in our lives that week. I told her, rather than me going on and on about what's happening in my life I should just send her a photo of MPTW so she can see it and go, "Wow, no wonder you're freaking out."

I love my weekly planner, and I need it to help me prepare for what's coming up in the week. But there are times, like now, when seeing everything I need to do all week long gets pretty overwhelming.

Well my friends, desperate times call for desperate measures. It's time to get shit done.

So I turned to one of my favorite websites ever, Getting Sh-t Done by Bill Westerman. For those of you who haven't read about GSD yet, get yourself over there and read it. It is a distilled version of all those productivity systems everybody's reading about these days.

I talked about GSD a little bit in my Lists, Lists Everywhere post earlier this week. It's a great way to whittle down your To-Do lists, and manage lots of tasks. As Bill says, GSD keeps you "focused on the tasks at hand rather than on the task of organizing." For those of us who tend to get bogged down in organizing instead of doing, this is the jump-start we need.

I busted out my Journal 21 day per page planner (that I reviewed here on Plannerisms) to use for my daily lists. The large pages have plenty of room to write in any scheduled items and my huge list of tasks that day. There's also enough room to fill in what I actually did, which is often different from what I intended to do. Plus I love the monthly calendars in the front of the Journal 21 so I can see upcoming events at a glance.I don't tear out the corners of my daily planners because I don't like how it looks. So I'm using tape flags to mark the pages of the current month (blue) and today (bright pink).

Then I put GSD into action: I wrote out my Master List of everything I need to do (in a separate notebook). Then I went through and decided on what I could do today.

On today's page in my Journal 21 I first wrote into the left side of the page (next to the printed times) any scheduled events. Then in the right side of the page I listed my tasks. This helps me see when I'll have time to do the tasks, but doesn't force me to artificially schedule them.

Now I have a whole page on which to capture everything, even those tiny tasks that I wouldn't normally write into today's space on my weekly planner (such as replace the battery in the carbon monoxide detector, which woke me up with its low-battery beep very early this morning). This of course makes a great record of what I did and when.

Having all my tasks on one master list, then filtering them into what I can do Today helps me 1) be realistic about what I can accomplish in a day and 2) plow through and get it done.

Once I've gotten through all those tasks hanging over me, then I'll be free to Do Epic Shit (by Charlie Gilkey, who writes one of my other favorite websites, Productive Flourishing). I love his message: people aren't born epic and then go on to do epic shit. "Everyday people do epic shit and then become epic." Rock on, Charlie. My favorite part of his article is in the last two lines. Go read it, and then go do some epic shit.

What do you do when you're feeling overwhelmed? Can your planner handle everything you throw at it, or do you have to break out of it sometimes?

And, what are you doing that's epic? Tell us about it!


  1. *Love* that post by Charlie! Thanks for pointing the way to it...just what I needed today.

    'Cause what I do when feeling overwhelmed is go have grande fruity rum drinks and cheese sticks at my local Applebee's ; )

    But I bring my planner in with me...does that count?!

  2. It's been quite hectic for me as well, so hectic that I haven't even had time to update my filo the proper way :(.
    Which is why I have been using the Business QuoVadis planner that Karen sent to me in march (yay!!)
    But now that I'm finally in London, I think i will have more time to update my Filo.
    BTW, if you'd like to grab a coffee and check out the Filofax stores when you're in London, just drop me a line :D

  3. Oni, I would LOVE to have coffee with you and go to the Filofax stores together! That would be fun. My schedule is pretty tight the first half of the week but I should have some free time Wednesday or Thursday. I'll let you know! :D


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