Struggling To Get Organised At Work? 🧐 Getting Things Done In Microsoft To Do
I've had a few different corporate jobs and in one of them I was completely burnt out 🥵
This led me to dive deep into prioritisation and organisation to be more effective 💪
In this video I take a look at the most practical methodologies I found (GTD - Getting Things Done - and P.A.R.A) and how to use these using Microsoft ToDo:
Struggling to get organized at work?
By the end of this video, you'll know how to use Microsoft ToDo with Getting Things Done and PARA methodologies to super charge your productivity.
I've got new videos on Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 coming out every Tuesday, so hit subscribe button and the bell icon to get notified when I release a new video.
I'm Gavin Jones, a former transformation manager for a Fortune 500 company and I'll help organizations of any size with modern workplace transformations. If you're interested in working together, then stick around until the end of the video to find out more.
Part 1: Getting Things Done Basics
Okay, so we're gonna go through my ToDo and how I structure it with Getting Things Done and PARA. So Getting Things Done is a book by David Allen which has a lot of avid fans that are really, really passionate about making methodology work exactly how he said it. I am not one of those people, but this works for me and it might work for you as well. So if you've not read Getting Things Done by David Allen, the building blocks of that are to get stuff out of your head into one place and then once you've got it there, categorize it and then decide what you're gonna work on when, which is the general gist of doing any sort of task management, but the four things he says you need are, probably the biggest to me, is inbox, a SomedayMaybe list, a Tickler list, which is stuff that you can't start yet and some way of tracking things that you're waiting on other people to do. So in ToDo, there's a few different ways we can categorize things. So one is by a list, one is by a group and the other, which is probably not that well used is hashtags, 'cause then hashtags help you search and you can search and basically split your list however then you want to do. So for me, I use Getting Things Done and that's why I've got a group called Getting Things Done 'cause these things are then not used anywhere else, apart from just to help get things done. Inbox is where I put anything that I ever thought of or anything that I need to do. So if you watched my last video on Outlook and ToDo, you can watch that here, helps get everything out of your email inbox into then a task inbox, but your task inbox has got everything from your email, which is things other people want you to do, and everything from you head, everything from the goals that you wanna do in your job or in your life, anything that you've taken down in notes, all gets put into your task inbox once a week at least in the weekly review and then once you've got it in your inbox, then you need to go through and decide, is it something that you want to do right now, if it's not, you just drag it out into SomedayMaybe, if it is something you wanna do, you then need to clarify what that action is. So should rewrite the title, presumably, if you've just added it in very quickly, and turn that into an action or sub-action, so decide the very next action that you need to take to move that project forward, if it is a multi step project.
Part 2: Context And Hashtags
So how I like to do that is to have folder for inbox, Someday Maybe and Tickler and then use hashtags for everything else that David Allen says that you need in his book, Getting Things Done, such as a hashtag for waiting on, 'cause I like to leave the task that I'm waiting on for somebody in the relevant list. So I don't want a separate list for waiting on, 'cause then they'll get merged together. That's just my preference, you could have a completely separate list for waiting on and then you've got one list that you know you can't progress 'cause everyone else is waiting for it, but I'll show you why I don't do that in a second. If you've got sub-tasks as part of a bigger project and you wanna just wait on one element of that, you can just add the hashtag in there and then you know that entire task is then stuck because you're waiting on someone else, that'll still show up in the search when we go and have a look at that. Everything else that he says that you might wanna do, so splitting the tasks by the amount of energy that's needed, the amount of time that's needed, the context, is it shopping lists, do you need to be in the shop to actually do it, or you need to be online to do it or it's a call or a meeting and a hashtag for people. So I often run into someone and you think oh, there's loads of stuff I need to talk to you about, and then if you tag them in all the tasks that you've got to do that you might need help with or you might be waiting for stuff off you even, then you've got one little search and then you can look at everything to do with that one person in one place. So, for example, if I took this one task that I thought of today, which was create a custom calendly message to welcome people that are booked to call with me a bit better than the standard one. If you're interested in that, then book a call using the link in the description below, if you're interested in working with me. It's already quite a good action, probably got no sub tasks, but what I might do is then put some hashtags to help me decide when I wanna do that. So I can put some hashtags like, I need to be on my Mac to do that. I put some rough timing in, so actually that's quite a quick one. So I'm gonna do hashtag 15 minutes. It's not related to anybody and it's not related to any project so I think I'm okay with using the hashtags like that. I can put in whether it's high or low energy, that's quite a low energy one so it's one of the low energy ones I might wanna do in the afternoon and these high energy in the morning. It's quite an in depth and needs a lot of thinking, this one probably won't and then you can see it's turned all the hashtags blue there and underlined them so wherever there's a hashtag there, if I click on it, it'll jump me into all of the 15 minute tasks that I can do on the Mac version of ToDo, it does keep showing you completed tasks. You need to turn it off every time you do a search which is relatively annoying, the PC app doesn't do that. So here you can see, I click on 15 minutes and it's got 15 minutes in the search, that's showing me all of the tasks that I could possibly do in 15 minutes. So if I've just got 15 minutes in between meetings, or that meetings finished earlier and I've got 15 minutes till the next meeting, I can then quickly do a quick search and see all the things that I reckon are gonna take 15 minutes and just bash out a few quick tasks rather than just languishing and going back into email and blah, blah, blah, I'm actually getting things done that I already know I need to do. So I'm curious what task management software we're using before Microsoft ToDo, let me know in the comments below what you thought about each. So suddenly, if I needed to do a 15 minute and a low task once I've got all my hashtags tagged, I can then do 15 minutes and low and then get a list of those. Usually 15 minutes are low tasks anyway, so it's not filtered my list any more, but you can have a combination of hashtags in search and that's where you can split the list anyway that you want then. So you could get away just with hashtags and keep everything in tasks, which is your main list.
Part 3: P.A.R.A.
I like to split everything out into inbox and then I can use my task list for more personal tasks and have other lists to split down the areas and projects that I'm working on at any one time, and that is using the PARA structure, which is P, A, R, A and which is designed and innovated by Forte Labs, I'll think I'll stick one of their blog posts in the description below so you can have a look at that for a bit more detail, but it's basically saying your entire life is either project and area, a resource or an archive and you should have all of your digital assets to help you do that in that order. So, if it's something that's gonna end, it's a project, if it's something that's an area that you wanna keep going, that's probably some aspects of your main job, if it's a resource, it's just something you wanna keep around to refer to and archive is just anything that you don't need out of everything else. And so I use the same file structure, the same structure in one note and the same structure in ToDo to help all of the mental clutter. So in every one of those apps, I've got areas, projects, and archive and in ToDo, it's got an extra one which is to do with YouTube videos where I've got a miniature Kanban board where I come up with ideas and then drag that task in between these lists, similar to if you had Asana or a planner board, but just to keep it into my own personal view so it doesn't look like cards, but it's the same gist in terms of how it works. So for areas, my YouTube video and MeeTime business, money, networking, the MeeTime App on the iOS App Store and some hobby, slight hobby doing DJing and music. Those little areas that I wanna keep track of and so rather than keeping my lists just in hashtags and just in this Getting Things Done buckets, I would then drag that in to wherever it was relevant. So this one it might be my MeeTime list and just dragging it in there and so once you've got everything out of your Outlook inbox into here, along with everything else you might wanna do, I would then clear up my Getting Things Done inbox and schedule it into the appropriate list where it'll live until I then complete it.
Part 4: 'Waiting On' And SubTasks
So that helps with reduce mental clutter, it helps with batching. So if you're doing one thing, you can just go into one list and see all the things you need to do and work through those in one lump. The hashtags help you split your list by energy or context or whatever. If you're waiting for something and I couldn't do this, create a custom Teams meeting link, I would then go on and put a hashtag, WO, which is what I do to say I'm waiting on stuff and then that would then live in the list that I'm waiting on that for. Again, if we had sub-tasks there, so maybe I should speak to Dave first and then create the link, and I've not spoken to Dave yet, oh I'm waiting for him to phone me back, I can then update that with waiting on Dave to phone back and then although there's not a waiting on there, there's no hashtag right there and again in the Mac app, that doesn't get underlined as a sub-task but it does still work in search. If I then search for waiting on, so all the things that I'm waiting on, the top one there, you can see Dave to phone back and it's a sub-task that it's searching for in that list. If you can't start it yet, then I would go put it in to Tickler so it gets everything out of my other lists and into one place where I know that I can't actually do that task yet, I don't wanna keep going in to do stuff on MeeTime and then finding out that I keep going down the list and it's like, oh yeah, I can't start that one, I can't start that one because there is no great way of adding a start date in ToDo and due dates, I would keep as completely sacred. So no point putting a date that you think you wanna do it by because then if it goes overdue, you've then got another task to just keep moving it into a place where you think you're gonna do it. Much better to keep the due date, if there's no actual physical hard due date, if you're not gonna get fired for missing that due date or something bad is not gonna happen, like you've missed paying your tax by that date, then I would always use remind me and use that to keep flagging stuff up that you might wanna do, or when you wanna do it and then what I actually do, which David Allen says, do not do, is then go and schedule those tasks on my calender in terms of when I want to do them 'cause then that blocks out time and I know I need to do that task and stop other people putting meetings over the top of it and it's easier then to decline if you say, we'll I've already got stuff in there that I know I need to do, rather than taking your meeting. Also, quick rule of thumb is to do proactive stuff in the morning, so stuff that you already know you need to do from your task list in the morning, which is likely to be more in depth stuff and do you reactive things in the afternoon, like take meetings, do low energy things, do quick tasks in the afternoon. So managing your energy to get the most done out of your task list at any one time. So we've just seen that Microsoft ToDo is great for personal productivity, but if you wanna change the productivity of your entire organization, then it might be worth scheduling a call to find out about how we can help with a complete digital transformation. Book a call at a time suitable for you using the link in the description below.
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