Dealing with the action pile…

This is part of the Creative Blocks series – read the rest first.

Read the first: Get it done methodology

Second: Creative planning

Let’s face it, if you haven’t been through this process before you are likely to be facing a massive pile of STUFF and are really overwhelmed.That’s ok.

The first thing to think about is making it all do-able. Most of the  things on your action pile are likely to be projects, rather than to-dos. That’s because you will have things on your list like ‘sort out pension’. That’s not actionable – you can’t do it, it’s a massive nebulous mess of scary.

We can deal with that.

Remember you need to decide how you are going to deal with everything – I highly recommend a mixture of Bullet Journal for simplicity and Evernote – don’t overcomplicate things, keep it simple otherwise you will spend your whole time dealing with your system, not actually managing with what you need to do.

Start at the top of the list and work your way through – can you deal with this in less than five minutes? If so, do it. Get it done and out of your mind.

Is it something that you would like to do in the future, but you just don’t have time for it right now? Learn how to make glass vases maybe? OK, create a receptacle called ‘Someday Maybe’ and put it in there. Maybe you have a class brochure. Your receptacle might be an Evernote notebook, or a physical box, or a page in your bullet journal whatever suits you and your lifestyle is good. Go through and put anything that isn’t going to be done in the next six months in there.

Ok, hopefully that’s reduced the pile significantly. We will come back to that later, so don’t worry about it.

What’s left?

Can you put them into context, i.e. it is something that needs to be done in one place, with a person, – do you need to go to B&Q and buy a load of stuff? Put that on a single list. Supermarket? Specialist shop (online or otherwise)? On a new list – again this might be an electronic list or a bullet journal.

OK, reduced it some more?

The chances what is left are projects rather than to-do items.

So, let’s take that scary pension project – create a new note in Evernote, or page in your Bullet Journal. What is the first step you need to do? The very FIRST step? Is it call an IFA? Do you have their number? No? Well that’s not the next step then, it maybe ask Friend for IFA recommendation. The next step is get IFA number. The next step is call IFA.

You don’t need to know all the steps, you literally just need to know the next one. You can then put that action step on your daily/weekly to-do.

If you do know some of the steps jot them down, it doesn’t have to be in order right now. Get the information out of your head.

You can apply that principle to everything on your list.

Hopefully you feel so much lighter now, everything is in its place and you know what you are going to do about it.

This should free your mind to keep on top of things. But, we’re not quite done with this just yet, one more section before we can talk about your creative work.

This system applies to all your creative ideas too – you can’t deal with all of them, but capture them safely. I write them in my journal (which contains my bullet journal) as they come in.


You can’t just do this process once and that’s it, otherwise everything will surely unravel as more stuff comes in.

You need to deal with everything as it comes in. Put it in your system, the to-do list, file it. Figure out when things need reviewing – your daily/weekly to-do list can be reviewed at the end of the day for a few minutes, someday-maybe file probably can be reviewed every six months or every year. Your ‘inbox’ – physical or virtual needs to be checked at the end of everyday/week so that your ideas are being captured and not wasted.

My inbox is a mixture of my Evernote and my bullet/journal. At the end of every week I go through them and see what is in them and what I can action, add to my blog post ideas list, add to my upcoming project file or just save as an exciting idea.

And the most important thing to review is your creative focus…coming next time.

Remember you can find out more about this through the amazing book Getting It Done by David Allen. (Affiliate link)

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  1. Whenever I go shopping, I make a shopping list in a lined piece of paper, so that I remember that I need certain groceries. When I do my rough drafts for my TMAs for my proofreader to read, I always save them on Word Document, so that I can keep them, in case that I have to make corrections. I end up printing my rough drafts in the end, so that I can rewrite them again. Keeping a list and record of things is a good way not to lose them.

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