Categories | Community Contributions | Implementation
Near the beginning of a new year, we often take stock of the big things in life. Am I happy at my job? Do I need to lose weight? It’s such a good time to take stock of — and clean up — major sources of stress and a fresh place to start large, complex projects. All of that is great, but this year I’d like to encourage you to think small steps, too.
In my GTD office tour, I made note of a small change I made to my system in 2009 which had a big impact on my overall mood and productivity: my tickler file. Yeah, I know. Really? But, yes…really. My old system (folders on a riser) was fine, but it was clunky. Keeping all the folders orderly meant constantly shuffling groups of 10 folders up and down the riser to keep the current folder at the front. It certainly wasn’t killing me to do it, but it was a small irritant. Barely noticeable, really. In fact, I had almost no idea how irritating the old system was until I switched to my new system: folders within hanging folders on a portable file holder on my desk. Now, I grab the current file, check it, and pop it to the back of the holder. Oh, how smoothly those files glide back and forth! Oh, now nice and tidy they all stay so matter how often I go in and out of them in a day or a week! (I know, I’m a neat nerd, leave me alone!). Once I experienced the smooth new system, I noticed how much more regular I was about checking my tickler. Why? Because it was so easy it bordered on being fun.
You don’t notice how much a sticky door bothers you until you oil it. Next time you close the door, and it doesn’t stick, you feel a little thrill. Or, at the very least, you feel the absence of irritation. Thinking this way strikes me as being part of reducing drag on my system. Just as fixing leaks in my system frees up my brain to think more creatively, tweaking imperfections in that system makes me feel better.
So, in addition to tackling all those fabulously huge and glamorous goals you’ve set up for this year, oil the sticky doors, too. Check GTD Times and the discussions on GTD Connect for ideas (I found that sweet tickler file setup right here on GTD Times!)
You might be surprised at the big impact those small changes can make.
Meghan Wilker is a regular community contributor to GTD Times. She’s also been featured in David Allen’s In Conversation series on GTD Connect, spotlighting some of the most fascinating people in our network of GTD’ers around the world.