Thursday, May 30, 2013

My new Filofax Flex Slim and the need to collect as part of GTD

I recently picked up this notebook / wallet combo from Filofax (Flex Slim) from my local T.K.Maxx … it cost me £2 and has replaced my previous wallet. I have it working in partnership with my iPhone5 case … which is one of the wallet types and holds a couple of cards too.

Why swap an ordinary wallet for this notebook / wallet thingamabob? Well … this is where it gets interesting … its all to do with David Allen's Getting Things Done or, more specifically, Leo Babauta's Zen-To-Done update … I need an 'in box'.

I carry a number of notebooks around with me. I have a diary / planner with space for my To Do list … and I have two notebooks for various different notes.

I'm pretty good at keeping lists and work between my diary and a couple of specific apps on my iPhone / iPad / MacBook Pro (namely 'Things' and 'Clear' … with the iOS 'Reminders' app employed at times).

I'm also pretty good at taking notes … and regularly practice taking 'Sketchnotes' at church or when I'm reading a non-fiction book.

Where I fall down is in collecting all my ideas to get them out of my head.

Those familiar with GTD or ZTD will know the following stages:
1) Collect
2) Process
3) Plan
4) Do
5) Review
I noticed recently, as I read 'Zen-To-Done', that I tend to go straight to processing … and don't take the time to collect. I am always processing - taking the ideas and putting them somewhere - and not spending the time collecting. This has become a distraction to me.

Instead of taking time out to process once or more per day … I was continually processing. As such, I wasn't reaping the benefit of an empty head.

In addition, I wasn't taking the time to review … because I was always reviewing … processing and reviewing … and not seeing the benefits of taking specific time to undertake these tasks. As such, the system became the master.

I needed something to collect all my ideas … all the thoughts that run through my head … as well as the things asked of me. But carrying a notebook never really worked … because it was something over and above my wallet. This is where the genius of Filofax's 'Flex' system comes to the fore … it *is* my wallet as well as being a notebook.

Now I carry it about with me wherever I go … and I use the notebook to capture my ideas without processing them. I just dump down the thought and move on … or keep on with what I am working on.

I then take time to process and review … and, in doing this, benefit from a 'change of mental scenery' - I move from one task to another … rather than trying to do a tasking whilst continually working on my lists.

It is early days … I've only had it for 4 days … but already I can perceive a benefit. I works nicely with my diary / to do lists and the apps on my phone … especially when I am at work. It has reduced the need for me to be on my phone which, in turn, has two further benefits:
1) I'm not on my phone and therefore cannot be perceived to be 'on my phone' - folks see smart phones as productivity thieves … and, lets face it, they are probably right (curse you, Facebook with your appealing notifications!!!). If you are not on your phone, you cannot be distracted by it. 
2) It saves my iPhone's battery … which ensures I have it when I need it.
Multitasking is a myth. All that happens is you switch quickly from one task to another. For us to focus and focus with any depth, we need to remove all non-essential distractions … this includes getting all those random ideas that always seem to pop into your head when you want to get deep out of your head … and out of your head quickly. Using a phone as a collection tool takes longer than good ol' fashioned pen and paper … and you run the risk of getting distracted by all the shiny alerts while you are on there.

I think I've found a tool to help me … and for £2 … I'm pretty chuffed about it. We'll see how I get on in the coming months.


Filofax Flex Slim

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