Getting Things Done by David Allen

This book was recommended to me by the lovely Music Therapy Maven at the perfect time in my life.  Last year around this time, I was just a little stressed (and by a little, I mean so much so that I wrote this blog post).  But I listened to the audiobook version of Getting Things Done, and immediately implemented the system.

My biggest problem before reading this book was carrying my to-do list around in my head and letting it cause anxiety day in and day out.  It was a total “duh” moment for me when I read the part about getting the tasks out of my mind and down on paper.  Not a huge list, as I was used to compiling on a weekly basis, but a single action step I could take towards completing a task or project.

That’s where the tickler file comes in.  A simple concept, really: file folders for each month of the year, plus one for each week of the current month.

Getting Things Done by David Allen

That phone call I needed to make this week?  I wrote it down on a sticky note and put it in this week’s folder at the beginning of the month so that it was waiting for me.  The conference I’m presenting at next September?  All of that info is in the August folder, so when it’s time to start thinking about it, I can pull it out and do so.  No longer do random papers, forms, and bills clutter my desk’s main inbox and cause me stress on a daily basis.

There’s one more folder in my tickler file, and that’s the “Someday/Maybe” folder.  What goes in there: ideas I don’t have time for right now, information that may become useful at some point, lead sheets for songs I find that I might want to adapt and use in the future, etc.  It’s my go-to place when I have some spare time and might be able to take action on any one of those items.

It’s so much easier to look at a project as a list of steps, rather than one big scary cloud hanging over my head.  Of course, I still experience stress, but nowhere near the levels at which I once did.  And anything that can lower my stress is effective, trust me!  That’s why I always recommend Getting Things Done to everyone.

What about you?  Have you read the book, or do you have another system for getting organized and keeping your to-dos from overwhelming you?

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