Daily Routines

I’m a big fan of Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen (t|b). I follow the GTD principals both at work and personal life. The key part of making GTD successful are routines. In this post, I’m going to review my daily routine that keeps my GTD system running like a well-oiled machine.

For the daily routine, the morning fits my personality the best. I love getting up early and setting a goal for the day. You have to find the best time that works for you. Others like the evening to reflect on the day and set goals for the next, it is entirely up to you. Regardless of the time of day, the daily routine needs to hit on a few key areas: inbox zero, your calendar, and tasks for the day.

Inbox Zero
I’ve been a fan of this approach for over a year. I used to keep ‘to-do’ items in my email inbox that were usually just read emails that require some additional action. It got to be overwhelming and I found myself with hundreds of emails that required my time. By using Inbox Zero, I treat my email inbox as just another entry point into my trusted system (OmniFocus). I have multiple inboxes in my life, mail from home, drive by tasks at work, meetings, and blog posts or websites that I want to read. Once you realize that there are virtual inboxes everywhere in your life, you quickly understand that you need one system to organize them all.

Each day your time is being demanded by multiple sources. 8am-5pm is usually your work commitments and after 5 pm is family/personal time. By reviewing your calendar ahead of the day you are able to better estimate what you can accomplish that day. If you have a big block of time available, that might be a perfect place to work on your big project or start working on one of your goals for month/quarter/year. Smaller blocks of time might be best for quick tasks or phone calls that need to be returned.

Now that you have an understanding of what time you have available, you can decide which tasks you can work on for the day. Most people have hundreds of little tasks that need to be completed, but which ones are the key tasks that keep you moving in the direction of your goals? Those are the tasks that you want to prioritize first. By reviewing your tasks each day, you stay current on your most important tasks.

If you would like to know more about GTD, start with David’s book. He did a second revision a few years ago and this will give you the foundation of GTD and the advantages it gives you in your life. The key advantage of GTD for me is clearing my head of those ‘things’ that I can’t forget to do that will keep me up at night or cause me to go into firefighting mode when those ’things’ are due. GTD gives me the freedom to be creative with my brain instead of using it as a storage device that it wasn’t meant to be used for.

Doug Purnell