12 Books in 12 Months, Week 8: Gathering Points, Part 2

Hey all! Welcome to week 8 of the 12 Books in 12 Months challenge. Hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving. I am actually recording this video a little early because for most of the week I will be in North Carolina with my fiancé. So I don’t have wordcount numbers to report to you. However, I have no reason to believe they will not be where they should be. This week I’m actually taking Thursday and Friday off, so I’ll only be writing for 3 days of the week, for a total of 9,000 words. And that’s what I expect will happen.

Remember last time we talked about gathering points, and what you could do to reduce the amount of gathering points that you have. These are any set of unprocessed items, things that you haven’t yet decided what to do with, when to deal with them, or where it’s place is. This can be anything from a stack of papers on your desk, to your cluttered email inbox. Now, most of these things pile up on us because we’re not being intentional with our time. And they distract us and cause our productivity to dip because of all the switchtasking they make us do, or the mental distraction they provide.

The Approved Gathering Points

Now we want to reduce all of these gathering points about about 6 or less. This may seem like a daunting task when we’re just starting out. I myself had over 45 gathering points when I began. But it was actually not all that hard to do once I understood the principles. The six gathering points you should have are:

  1. A physical box or space where you put all your physical items that need to be processed, like papers or sticky notes, or other random items like that. This is ideally placed by your desk or wherever you do the most work. Now I’m going to cheat and say that you can actually have two of these, but only if you work in a separate office. That way you can have one at work and one at home. If you work from home, as many authors do, just use one.
  2. A portable version of the physical box. This can be a purse or a briefcase that you take around with you. Because not everything that requires processing will be easily accessible from work or home. You may pick up things while you’re out and about and those need somewhere to go. So have a purse or briefcase to store those items until you can get to your physical box at home or work, and put those unprocessed items there.
  3. A notepad. I keep this with my bag, so technically I have two gathering points together in one place, which is nice. But having a notepad or some other form of jotting down to-do items and such. This can be a physical notepad, which is what I like to use. Or it could be a digital notepad. The choice is up to you. Just make sure it’s also something you carry around with you, because you never know when something will come up, be it a to-do item or something you need to schedule, and you need to write it down right there.
  4. Your email inbox. You should ideally only have one of these. You may have multiple emails but try to configure them so they all feed into one inbox. This will reduce a number of gathering points and ensure that you aren’t pulled in multiple directions because of email. Now, I am going to allow you to have two of these, one for work, one for personal. However, if you work from home, I don’t recommend doing this. It’s just easier to have everything come to one place.
  5. Voicemail/Texts. Technically Voicemail and texts are two separate gathering points, but I find that most of us, particularly us millennials, don’t use voicemail much anymore. However, most of us do use text. So I would count that as a primary gathering point. Again, try to make it so that you only have to worry about one source of texts. If you use texts, but also Facebook Messenger, or have multiple Google Voice numbers, you might want to either get rid of those, or consolidate them so that they all feed to one place.
  6. Wildcard. Everybody has a different situation, and some will have different needs. For some, you might have a whiteboard where you put a lot of your to-do items or other unprocessed stuff. Or you might have an office assistant or virtual assistant that helps manage your schedule. That assistant is also a gathering point, since he or she will become a source of things you must do, or items you must address. Whatever your wild card is, make sure it is necessary. Because a lot of us, myself included, can actually manage with the above gathering points. Just figure out what’s right for you. Remember, the fewer gathering points you have, the more time you will have, and the happier you will be. Seriously.

Okay, so that’s probably a lot to process. I’m not going to go into more detail just yet. In fact, I will probably have a separate video for every one of these gathering points. But next time we’re going to cover how to start eliminating your gathering points, processing what you have, and coordinating all of that with the greatest productivity tool you will ever have.

And in case you’re wondering what this all has to do with being an author, let me assure you that I have managed to write more, get more done throughout my day, and feel really good about myself because of these time management practices. I promise that even though these last two videos may seem like just tips on organization, they will prove invaluable to you, especially if you’re one of us people that feels like there’s just too much to do and too little time.

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