In James Fallows' interview with David Allen of "Gettings Things Done" fame for the Atlantic, David replied with this when asked how we can all get our busy lives under control:
"All the stuff that is coming in needs to be externalized. I don't know that I could get it any simpler than that.
You need to capture the stuff that's potentially meaningful, you need to clarify what those things mean to you, and you need to keep a series of maps of the results of all of that so you can step back and see it from a larger perspective. That's the only choice: you're ultimately going to have a lot more to do than you can do, so the question is, do you want a half-empty or half-full life?
Really, you can only do one thing at a time with conscious attention, so you either are saying "That is the thing I need to do" or you're going "Shit, I'm not sure this is what I need to do." And one is stress-free productivity, and the other is an ulcer. Right? In a way, it comes down to that.
So, what do you need to feel comfortable about what you're doing and, maybe more importantly, what you're not doing? Well, you need to have a map of all the possibilities.
I just spent four hours with the head of [a large government organization] last week, and all we did were two mind maps--one for his job and one for his personal life, just to do the 20,000-foot areas of focus and interest and accountabilities about all of that--and then spent time making sure he got all the projects he needed ... to make sure he wasn't letting anything fall through the cracks, and then did a triage on some of the projects he needed to get rid of and hand off to associates. He just needed to externalize that, be more objective about it. He's buried, as is everybody.
So in a way, it really does come down to that: stop using your psyche as a place to try to collect and organize what you care about. If you try to keep it in your head, then it becomes like quicksand in there. So the good news is that all of this is forcing us to learn that lesson. And then, in the great, glorious future, we'll have nothing on our minds and can develop our inner wisdom. Why not?"
If you don't know what a "mind map" is, here are some examples:
You see that they range from fancy ones with drawings and logos to simple, hand-drawn ones.
The point is not how it looks. When you need to find more time in your life, spending a lot of time drawing a map is NOT going to help!
The point is to get everything that's floating around in your head out and capture it into one area. That way you can decide what your priotrities are and what your next steps should be to complete them.
As a Fancy Hands client, one section of your mindmap can be "Delegate to Fancy Hands". As you write down the things that need to be done, but can be done by anyone - things that are not specifically in need of your personal touch, draw a line from that task to your "Delegate" section.
- Get quotes on fixing camera.
- Order cedar blocks from The Container Store.
- Send Mother's Day gift by May 7.
- Make haircut appointment.
These are the things on my to-do list right now that I can delegate to someone else, and I'm happy to know that my Fancy Hands assistants will handle them for me.
What can your assistants do for you today?