Last year I wrote a column for the CILIP Update magazine on the topic of Getting Things Done. The column came about as a follow on from an article I wrote on the topic in 2012. The article was very well received and so I was invited to develop a series of columns on various different aspects. These were published every other month during 2013, and are now outside the embargo period so I am able to share them via the blog. Each one has a theme, and many also include additional hints and tips, updates, and some Q&As.

The main takeaway points for the series are:

  • Ensure all confirmed appointments are in your calendar and check your calendar regularly
  • Consider blocking out time in your calendar for working on particular tasks/projects
  • Find a to-do list that suits the way you work, whether it’s physical or virtual
  • Learn when and how to say no to help you prioritise your time effectively
  • Set up a tickler file to store items for future and have them ready for when you need them
  • Include start dates on tasks and projects so they don’t bother you until it’s time to work on them
  • Keep your email inbox for incoming items only
  • Review your tasks and projects regularly to ensure they are up-to-date and you can focus on current priorities

You can view the columns in full using the following links:

  1. Dealing with calendars and diaries
  2. To-do or not to-do, that is the question
  3. The art of saying no
  4. Helping your future self
  5. Getting to inbox zero and keeping it that way
  6. Knowing when to stop

I had some really positive feedback on the column and it was great to gain an understanding of which parts were most useful and what people wanted more advice on. Trying different tools and techniques to improve productivity is something that’s always interested me so it’s been good to have the opportunity to share some of the things I’ve learnt along that process.

Alongside the column, I’ve also been developing my materials for the Managing yourself: how to be productive with your time workshop, and also delivered a webinar earlier this year on the topic. If you’re interested in a workshop or webinar on this topic, please let me know.

As it’s the first working day of 2014, I’m taking the opportunity to review how I did against my 2013 resolutions. They were:

  1. To write (and hopefully publish) a paper for a peer-reviewed journal
    Unfortunately this still hasn’t happened – it’s been on my resolutions for a while now, but the opportunity still hasn’t yet materialised. However I do have some plans for this so maybe 2014 will be the year.
  2. To embed current awareness into working routine (e.g. keeping up-to-date with RSS feeds)
    Yes, I’m much better at this now. I’ve cut down the number of RSS feeds I subscribe to so that’s it’s not so overwhelming, and check on a far more regular basis.
  3. To develop skills in training/coaching and put them into practice through workshops
    I successfully completed my ILM Award in Coaching, and have utilised these skills in a number of different situations, both one-to-one and in workshops. I’m much more confident in designing and developing workshops now and really enjoy delivering them.
  4. To continue to support other professionals via Twitter (by keeping an eye on the #chartership tweets, and joining in Twitter chats)
    I’ve been keeping an eye on the #chartership tweets, particularly during my CILIP secondment, and am planning to register as a mentor to continue supporting people in this way.
  5. To retain balance in life and ensure I continue to spend time away from the computer doing other things I enjoy and seeing family and friends
    Sort of. I’ve been much better at this, but there were still periods where I let work take over my free time – either in doing work during multiple consecutive evenings or weekends, or just through planning, worrying, and thinking about work to an extent where I struggle to switch off. I think this will always be a work in progress but I’m much more aware of it and have developed a few mechanisms to help.

So what about 2014? Well, I’m taking a different approach this year by not setting myself lots of goals. My one resolution across all areas of my life is to try to live for the present more than the future. I spend so much of my time planning for future and setting myself goals that I haven’t been enjoying things much as I’m constantly looking to the next thing and not appreciating the current situation. I’m not going to go completely cold turkey, as planning is of course important for some things, but I’m going to try to take a more balanced approach and think more about doing things I enjoy right now rather than doing things because one day a few months (or even years!) ago I thought it would be a worthwhile thing to do in future. So here’s to today! 🙂