Google tasks Organiser – the collection system


When it comes to getting everything done as a vicar, I do not only have the self-generated teaching, counselling and training ministries which I do, but I have many requests for time from other people.  When it comes to organising these tasks and my time, the problem is twofold:

  1. How do I remember everything I need to do which comes my way from emails, letters, phone calls, texts and personal conversations?
  2. How to I process and prioritise these things so that what needs to be done is done on time?

We all use a four level filter when it comes to requests for our help: do it, delegate it, defer it or drop it (this is something I have learned from David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done). So the flow of thought goes like this:
– if it can be done in two minutes – then do it.
– if it can be delegated in two minutes – delegate it (this is difficult because it is often hard to get hold of people from church and I always struggle to ask volunteers, unless they have a clearly defined role in church life).
– If I need to defer it, this is where Google Tasks Organiser comes in. I need to collect that task for future retrieval.

Google Task Organiser

Google Task Organiser

Google Task Organiser has allowed me to categorise all my work into projects and other categories.  The new task is stored for retrival under a header; either a project head like “New Assistant Minster Post” or a general header like “Church Government”.  I also put in the date on which I have defer the decision for when I think about what to do about that task. The mistake I had been making was thinking that at that point, I was deferring the date on which I would do that task. I now realise that I only need to use Google Task Organiser as a collection bin. At sometime I need to review what I have collected and work out when I am going to do them all.

So, once a week, on a Monday morning, I review all the tasks in my Google Task Organiser for the week ahead.  Once a month I review all the tasks under every header.  This review process lets me work out when I will do what I have to do.  But I do not use Google Task Organiser for my to-do list.  Working on the screen is difficult, I also need to see my diary, so I transfer a maximum of 10 tasks a day to my Filofax. Working out what I can do that day, given the number of appointments I have in my diary.  My Filofax pages are week to view, and I divide each day into appointments on the left and to-do list on the right.

The benefit of this system is that only the most important tasks get transferred to my filofax.  Also, at the end of each day, I feel a sense of completion, if I have managed to do everything I set out to do.  If I have not managed it, I can defer it, and work out why I didn’t get it done.  The two benefits of being organised massively reduce stress and increase the sense that the mountain of tasks in managable.

Tomorrow I’ll post on using timesheet software as a means of managing time on the job.  This helps avoid the danger of overwork as well as overcoming the sense that I am not working hard enough.

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7 Responses to Google tasks Organiser – the collection system

  1. Marc Lloyd says:

    Neil, do you use Google Task Organiser wherever you are (on you mobile?) when you get a task or do you write it down to put it into GTO later?

    • neilrobbie says:

      Hi Marc, my mobile is not smart enough for anything more than calls and texts. I have a tablet which goes with me pretty much everywhere. If I don’t have it with me, tasks go onto my phone’s calendar for transfer later. I carry a notebook to church on Sunday and tranfer tasks into GTO when I get home.

      • Marc Lloyd says:

        Thanks. I find I can be swamped by bits of paper or spend ages searching for them. A notebook would probably suit me best!

      • neilrobbie says:

        Have you come across the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen? I commend it very highly. For the first time since becoming a vicar I feel I can do the organisation/admin stuff well, if I concentrate.

      • Marc Lloyd says:

        Yes, I’ve read it and liked it. One needs to be committed to his system and have the self discipline to make sure you collect everything in one’s bucket and review one’s lists. Don’t follow it as I probably should!

  2. Philip Robertson says:

    Paper and pencil does much the same!

    • neilrobbie says:

      Hi Philip, welcome to TG and thanks for your comment. I’m glad the graphite and cellulose works for you. I did say, in yesterday’s post, that writing things down in an organinsed way is a personal weakness. Thank God for Google!

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