Erin Clarke

Getting Things Done

Posted on: 23 January, 2011

When I returned from the Costa Rica film gig (3 full weeks of 12-hour days), I hit the ground running, straight back to The Day Job™, until I collapsed in an exhausted heap during my one-week (unpaid!) winter vacation. Fortunately, I didn’t get sick, but I also didn’t work on any of the many projects I’d intended to tackle because I spent so much time lounging, relaxing, reading and hanging out with friends and family.

Fast-forward (not very far) to the New Year, when I became determined to get a grip on the sprawling, tangled mass of tasks involved in establishing my Independent Artist Career™ (a nice complement to The Day Job™, though I hope the former will render the latter unnecessary sooner rather than later) and realized that I seriously needed help sorting out all the Things-To-Do flotsam swirling about my thoughts.

Having found useful software that greatly facilitated my screen writing last year (Scrivener), I began looking for project management tools and soon happened across OmniFocus (sorry Windows folks, it’s a Mac-only app).

Long story short: I am now using OmniFocus because, not far into the free trial period, it neutralized the near-constant feeling I had of being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work I have to do on my own. Reflecting on it now, I’m amazed I got as much done as I had up to that point without it.

OmniFocus, being based on its method, connected me to a book called Getting Things Done, which has been around for awhile, but which hadn’t appeared on my horizon until I became desperate enough to go looking. I generally think of myself as an organized person, a natural-born sorter, even, but living an art-committed life* means creating my own business structures and managing my own work-flow in a way I haven’t done before.

Because managing work-flow at my computer is only one aspect of better organizing my work, I bought the book to learn more about extending the GTD method to the physical aspects of my work (office space, materials and equipment). In browsing online for said book, I happened across another book that addressed a pressing need at this transitional wobble of my erratic career trajectory (and which struck a chord in the things-I’ve-struggled-with-for-a-long-time department): my finances.

I’m pretty skeptical of wealth-building books, not to mention critical of many aspects of the neo-liberal capitalist society of which I am part, but instead of a get-rich-quick formula or instruction on how to claw one’s way up the corporate ladder Barbara Stanny’s Overcoming Underearning identifies self-defeating behaviour in one’s work patterns that is connected to underlying self-worth issues, and addresses both the inner (emotional) and the outer (practical) work needed to effect lasting change in one’s money matters. So I bought it, too, along with Getting Thing Done, with a gift card I got from mum for Christmas, and now I’m working through both.

* This is a term Eric Maisel uses in his book Creativity for Life

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