When getting organized makes you waste time fixing your screw-ups

28/365: A To Do List

Image by DanielJames via Flickr

I have a been working on a personal productivity project for a couple of years now. It started slowly, but I wanted to get a system of organization. Something that I could use consistently.It started with me focusing on electronic databases. Then, how to implement a good retrievable electronic document database, along with contacts, email retrieval, and all the while hoping to get at all the paper cluttering my life.

Life threw me a few curve balls though. A divorce, a new relationship, a new baby, a new career. Ouch. Did I ever need to get organized now!

Part of the allure of getting organized for me has been trying out new things. I have known this about myself for a very long time. My mind tends to focus on something exciting and new, and once the buzz wears off, it is off looking for something new to stimulate it. That is the main reason I never finished my degree. I just love too many subjects, and can’t decide on ONE thing to stay focused on.

Because I recognize that I need assistance with staying on track, Getting Things Done as a system of organizing myself was a good fit. It is flexible enough to amend the things that are working well, and I always feel like I am checking out my lists. There is a but though.

I was implementing GTD into my Gmail account. I had an @waiting_for label, @read, @errand, etc…Over time I figured out that I was micro-managing my personal e-mail and had way too many labels. I really don’t get that many emails that I needed GTD in there. I have been trying to simplify my GTD system overall and am currently experimenting with my Moleskine. I am using far less Contexts there too so I have less lists to make and keep track of.

Today, I really messed up Gmail trying to simplify/organize my labels. This made me laugh. It was kind of an oxymoron. I am trying to organize to save time and effort, and in doing so, now have a problem with Gmail and am wasting time trying to fix it! lol. I decided to get rid of all my labels and filters and in doing so, messed something up…

Is this a chronic problem with GTD’ers? Do we focus too much on the system, and not enough time keeping it simple and just getting stuff done?Do we get so wrapped up in the system that it becomes too complex and we waste too much time finding where we put everything?

One blogger has come up with a mutated version of GTD because he felt it was just too complicated for him. It is called “Getting Shit Done”. Check it out! It is actually a pretty good system.

Oh, and if anyone can help me fix my “Oops… the system encountered a problem (#700) – Retrying in…” Gmail issue, PLEASE drop me a line… 😉

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4 thoughts on “When getting organized makes you waste time fixing your screw-ups

  1. I’ve gotten ruthless about email folders and organization tools I use. They can take over your life. Be careful that you don’t organize yourself into oblivion.

  2. I was hoping you could help me do the same thing, buy figuring out how to organize all my emails and such.

    • I use Gmail, and have been organizing all my incoming emails with filters and labels. All my blog email gets moved directly to a blog label and is archived from my inbox. Same goes for all the social media email I get. All my facebook , twitter, reddit, and Digg stuff goes into that label, and stays out of my inbox.
      As I don’t get too much email, this keeps my inbox manageable. When I have some time to kill, I head over to my social media label and hammer away.
      I was using an @read label for stuff that I wanted to read later, newsletters and blog subscriptions, and @waiting-for for anything I was awaiting a reply.
      I will probably set those labels back up again if my inbox gets squirrelly again.

  3. I just learned how to “filter” in gmail, that helps a lot. Thanks for your answer. I am working on it all now. Evernote is awesome!

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