One of the most popular time management systems is Getting Things Done, by David Allen. GTD has a lot of strategies, and some people thrive on following the entire system exactly as Allen described it.
But in his August 29 newsletter, he wrote:
I’ve said for years, doing any part of GTD will give you benefit. It’s not an all-or-nothing approach. (I know some people who have only implemented the two-minute rule and it changed their life!).
I was delighted to see Allen write this, because many people do tend to think of GTD as an all-or-nothing system. But when I read this book, or any other book describing an organizing system, I see a collection of ideas from which I will pick the ones that work for me (or for my clients).
The two-minute rule says that if a task can be done in two minutes of less, just do it now rather than putting it on a to-do list. If that concept that works well for you, terrific — go for it! But you could ignore this rule (or shrug your shoulders because you’re already doing this) and still find other parts of GTD that are helpful to you.
Another example is Marie Kondo’s KonMari method, as explained in her books. (I’ve just read the first one, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.) Someone asked me this week if I like her work, and I said I did — because I found many interesting and helpful ideas in her book. For example, I’m never going to fold my clothes her way or unpack my purse every night, but I think “Does this spark joy?” can be a useful question to ask about items you own while you’re uncluttering.
Yet another system that tends to have passionate followers is Merlin Mann’s inbox zero. I do not even attempt to keep my email inbox at zero, but I still find a lot of value in the ideas in this series of blog posts.
Other systems that often influence people are things like “how mom or dad did it” or “how my organized friend does it” or “how we did it at my old office.” Those systems may work for you, too, but they probably will need at least some tweaking to fit your specific needs and preferences. Or they may not work for you at all — and that’s okay, too.
So gather as many ideas as you like — from this site, from organizing books, etc. And then keep the ideas that work for you, combining them into your own personal system, and merrily discard the rest.