Managing yourself - how to be productive with your time


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As librarians and information workers, we are experts at managing and organising collections. But what about our own information? How do we manage incoming information such as emails, blog posts, paperwork etc.? How do we prioritise what tasks we should be doing? How do we break down projects into more manageable tasks and track our progress? This session will introduce you to the basics of David Allen's Getting Things Done principles and consider how you can apply this in your own work. It will include active discussion and practical examples of some of the tools you can use to help you Get Things Done.

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Managing yourself - how to be productive with your time

  1. 1. Managing yourself:how to be productive with your time Jo Alcock Birmingham City University @joeyanne
  2. 2. Session aimTo equip you with tools to help you clear your mind sothat you can focus on Getting Things Done
  3. 3. Learning outcomesBy the end of this session, participants will be able to:1.  Implement the Getting Things Done methodology in their work and personal life2.  Employ systems (physical or virtual) to manage and organise information3.  Apply productivity techniques to focus on progressing towards short, medium and long term goals
  4. 4. Session overview•  Introduction to Getting Things Done methodology•  Stages of Getting Things Done (with discussion, individual and group activities, and software demos)•  Alternative systems for productivity•  Additional tips and tricks•  Applying what you have learnt into practice
  5. 5. My story
  6. 6. Your journey
  7. 7. What is Getting Things Done?•  Productivity methodology devised by David Allen•  Series of processes to help you organise information and make decisions about what to do when•  Sometimes known as GTD•  Can be used as full system, or certain elements can be used
  8. 8. Getting Things Done overview Collect Do Process Review Organise
  9. 9. Stage 1 - Collect•  Aim of this stage is to clear your mind to record all physical information and anything you are currently trying to remember•  ALL sources of information should ideally come into one place (physical or virtual)
  10. 10. Suggestions and ideasPhysical collection Virtual collection
  11. 11. Stage 2 - Process•  Process each item one at a time, in order•  Decide what each item is and what to do with it –  Trash –  Reference –  Action –  Project (multi-step action) –  Someday•  Don’t leave anything in your ‘inbox’
  12. 12. Stage 3 - Organise•  Separate actionable items into distinct, separate categories: –  Next actions –  Scheduled actions –  Waiting for•  If any action takes less than 2 minutes, do it now
  13. 13. Using lists“I have a secret. I make lists. Thats how I handlestress. And whether they actually help meaccomplish more or not,they make me feel so muchbetter. If I can jot down all the tasks that swirlaround in my head, I shift from feeling deluged andstressed to feeling in control and calm. And this isbefore I even do anything on the list.” Suzanne Riss (2007) in Maggio (2009)
  14. 14. Next actions – To-do list•  Record next and scheduled actions•  Utilise contexts –  @errands –  @computer –  @online –  @home –  @calls•  May assign projects/tags•  Accessible from anywhere
  15. 15. SuggestionsPhysical Virtual
  16. 16. Projects vs. actions•  Each project will have a number of discrete actions with clear end points•  Actions should be written in the following format: Verb Noun Subject ActionEXAMPLE:Prepare agenda for next project team meeting
  17. 17. Setting deadlines•  Do personal deadlines help you focus or make you feel guilty? Get the balance right for you.•  Work backwards from the due date to calculate deadlines for the subtasks of each project
  18. 18. Tickler file (43 folders)•  Set reminder triggers for time-based items to ‘tickle’ your memory –  Agendas for meetings –  Tickets for travel –  Event information –  Materials needed for scheduled task
  19. 19. Tickler file (e-mail)•  Email folders (or labels) for each month and date•  Time-based emails moved into appropriate folders/labels
  20. 20. Stage 4 - Review•  System needs regular review•  Every day –  Daily calendar –  Action list –  Tickler file•  Weekly (?Fri afternoon) –  Full 5 step process –  Ensure all lists, files, folders, and calendar are up-to-date•  Less frequently –  Bigger picture reviews for goals
  21. 21. Stage 5 - Do•  Assess situation depending on following factors: –  Context –  Time available –  Energy –  Priority
  22. 22. Knowing what not to do•  Do you need to do this?•  Do you want to do this?•  Is it something you feel you should do? Why?•  Can it be deleted, delegated, or simplified?
  23. 23. Getting started "The secret of getting ahead is getting started" Mark Twain•  Adopt the 15 minute rule - spend just 15 minutes starting a task. You may find that you are so into it by then that you want to continue, but at minimum you will have at least started.
  24. 24. Staying on task•  If during a task you hit a hurdle or need extra information, make a note of the question or jot down the extra task to come back to after you have completed the rest of your original task
  25. 25. Dealing with procrastination•  Discover the source of procrastination - lack of commitment, knowledge, motivation, fear of failure, overwhelmed?•  Deal with the problem•  Just do it - even if only for 15 minutes•  Set yourself a reward mechanism
  26. 26. Pomodoro technique•  Choose a task to be accomplished•  Set the Pomodoro (timer) to 25 minutes•  Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper•  Take a short break (5 minutes is OK)•  Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break
  27. 27. GTD overviewFive stage process formanaging information andimproving productivity:1.  Collect2.  Process3.  Organise4.  Review5.  Do
  28. 28. Alternative productivity systems•  Zen to Done•  The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People•  Never Check E-Mail in the Morning•  Bit Literacy•  The Four-Hour Workweek•  One Year to an Organized Work Life
  29. 29. Tips and tricks
  30. 30. Understand your Bodyclock•  Are you a morning person or a night owl?•  Can you structure your most difficult tasks when your energy is high?•  Consider utilising slump time to organise to do list and revitalise energy•  Block day into periods of work (ideally 90 minutes)
  31. 31. Dealing with interruptions•  List is constantly evolving•  Priorities will shift and change on a regular basis•  Use time-based or priority rankings to help you reorganise your tasks
  32. 32. To-dont list•  Keep a list of activities that you sometimes feel you ought to do but know drain your energy, take up too much of your time, or are unrewarding•  Be sensible and realistic about your capabilities, skills and commitments•  Practice saying no - be firm but kind when turning down opportunities and offer an alternative if possible e.g. "Im sorry, I cant do that but Mr X might be interested"
  33. 33. Saying no “Not saying no often enough is one of the biggest causes of being too busy” Maggio (2009)•  Before responding, let person know youll get back to them but spend time making the right decision•  Dont give excuses if its something you dont want to do, be honest and keep your response simple•  Saying no is much kinder than saying yes and not fulfilling your commitment
  34. 34. Email management tips•  Try choosing 1-4 periods of the day to deal with email•  Turn off email alert signal•  Store informational email in reference folders•  Practice replying to emails in as few words as possible
  35. 35. Extracting information from calls/ meetings•  Make notes at meetings and during calls•  Highlight any actions and record these in your list immediately after the call/meeting•  Store your notes for reference - somewhere you can easily recall them
  36. 36. Profersonal mix?Professional Personal
  37. 37. Adapting your process•  We are all different•  This is your own journey•  Regularly review what is working well and what isnt - ditch or change what isnt working
  38. 38. Feel free to contact me Jo Alcock Evidence Based Researcher @joeyanne
  39. 39. Recommended reading•  Allen, D. (2001) Getting Things Done: How to achieve stress-free productivity. Piatkus.•  Hines, S. (2010) Productivity for Librarians: How to get more done in less time. Oxford: Chandos Publishing.•  Houghton-Jan, S. (2008) Being Wired or Being Tired: 10 Ways to Cope with Information Overload. Being Wired or Being Tired: 10 Ways to Cope with Information Overload. Ariadne [online], 56.•  Maggio, R. (2009) The Art of Organizing Anything: Simple Principles for Organizing Your Home, Your Office, and Your Life. New York: McGraw Hill.
  40. 40. Image sources - tickbox - storytime - journey - GTD flowchart - investigation - inbox - group discussion - wine glasses - to do list - calendar - clock - hurdle - Quality Street - toolbox - alarm clock - do not disturb - thank you - icons