I have been struggling with creating a trusted workflow system since 2004, when I started to read David Allen's book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.
As a small business owner with plenty of entrepreneurial ideas, juggling many projects at the same, it’s hard not feel stressed now and then. The main goal is to develop a solid method that will help you to have a "mind like water," instead of keeping all your mental stuff in the "RAM" (Random-access memory) version of your brain. The problem kicks in when you have about five different things to take care of at the same time or several things that you are trying to remember and keep in storage for a longer period of time.
I want to point out that the most important thing is to focus on how you could come up with your own personal productivity game plan, not to play around with new fancy tools and gadgets in order to get things done in a smart way. I think that David Allen's latest book is declaring this in an eloquent way. You should strive to have control and perspective of both your work and life situation. David Allen says that it takes about two years to "learn to play banjo, dance tango, and speak Spanish." It is the same time effort if you want to create and implement a new way of organizing your workflow process. It has taken me a longer time than a couple of years, but I am on my way nowadays.
Here is a list of tips, tools and resources to help you in your small business and spare time. Please feel free to add your favorite tools and tricks to the list:
Have one dedicated place, for a physical inbasket on your workdesk. Why not get a fancy "bucket" which stands out and gives you a reminder of the importance of why you should process all your stuff through one unique "pipeline". After you have put every thing (documents with your thoughts and to-do stuff) in your inbasket, you could start the process and ask yourself if it is actionable or not. I recommend you to study David Allen's workflow diagram.
Strive to get down to an empty email inbox on a regular basis. I have struggled with this for a long time. I used to search after things in my inbox, instead of labeling and giving description of the individual email messages. I have added GTDInbox to Google's Gmail program.
Cut and chew your workload in smaller pieces by pointing out what should be the next action in every project. You could do this by writing down bullet points in a document or use a specialized software program, e.g., a project management tool. I will test out a web based program called Gtdagenda.
Have some kind of tools handy so you could take down notes in order to remember things when you are moving around. I will go back to a low-tech solution, with formatted to-do note cards, a notebook, a pen and a Filofax. I am thinking of getting the new version of iPod Nano with a digital recorder for "notes to self" messages. If you have an iPhone or smartphone, you should take a look at Evernote. Read Guy Kawasaki's post, 14 Practical Ways to Use Evernote, for more information.
Use a Kaizen mentality, continuously improving and developing your work by having reviews and brainstorming sessions on a regular basis. I am writing a weekly review, using a digital pen with a special "dotted" paper called Pulse Smartpen.
For inspiration and more know-how material, please check out:
Moleskine: The Guide by Nick Cernis.
Weekly "structure" tips by David Stiernholm.
Thinking Skills with Jean Moroney.
The Best Sounds for Getting Work Done by Kevin Purdy.
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About the Author: is a “trader in matter & spirit” and a small business entrepreneur in Gothenburg, Sweden. He is a board member of the Swedish National Association of Purchasing and Logistics (Silf, Western Region). Martin also writes a long-standing blog called .