I've decided to focus on one overarching theme for 2011: Getting Organized.
For years I've managed to get along without following any particular system. While I've done a decent job at keeping up with things I've also noticed a few (bad) habits emerge that will make efficiency experts cringe:
- I keep to-do lists on paper (and usually only when I feel like I'm overwhelmed)
- I'm a digital hoarder. Current inbox count: 13,220 in Outlook and 3,598 in Gmail. Then there's the multitude of notes and documentation spread throughout my My Documents folder and desktop, plus random stuff on 5 USB thumb drives I carry around in my backpack.
- I open web pages I want to read later in a new tab. Before I know it I've got 20 tabs open and eating up memory. When I have to reboot I save all the open tabs as bookmarks which I promptly open again as soon as I'm logged back in.
I felt like the flood of information and lack of organization caught up with me last year; although I accomplished a lot, I still feel like I was constantly doing just enough to keep my head above water. In July Mike Walsh (Blog | Twitter) wrote a series about how he uses Evernote to stay organized (which I finally read in December!) and it lead me to believe that for me to have a productive, successful 2011 I need to take control.
Here's how I plan (so far) to get organized this year:
- Use OneNote. I paid for it when I bought Office 2010 so there's no sense in not using it. I plan to migrate everything I can into it: meeting notes, emails that I want to keep for documentation, accomplishments throughout the year (good for review time), blog posts that I want to keep handy, and all those random text files with notes scattered throughout my computer.
- Adopt A Task Management Methodology. I need to use some kind of system. I'm not sure what just yet, but I know if I continue to keep it all in my head important things will get forgotten.
- Inbox Zero. If I'm keeping notes in OneNote and managing my tasks properly there's no reason to use my inbox as an archive anymore.
- Focus. I need to do a better job at minimizing distractions and staying focused so that I can get the other three things I just mentioned done. That means closing Twitter, Outlook, Gmail, etc. for periods of time throughout the day and saving that web page I must read for later (I'm going to give Instapaper a try for that).
- Sleep. I short myself on sleep which makes me less productive the following day; on that note I'm going to try for at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
Aside from Inbox zero I realize that these are resolutions which are hard to measure so I'll just have to go off gut feel to know if I've accomplished them. Considering how I felt about 2010 I know what it will feel like if I don't.
I'm looking forward to the potential of an exciting, productive, and organized 2011!