It is almost June and the question on my mind is whether or not I can really enjoy my holidays because my goals are on track. The summer sun is calling us outside while those in the Southern Hemisphere are snuggling up for winter. I always feel a sense of urgency around this time of year; the clock is ticking and I realise that I only have half the amount of time left to complete all the goals I set at the start of the year. Items on the to-do list need to be crossed off and I need to make revisions to actions that have not been achieving the desired results.

Summer holiday unplugging brings with it a revival in my thinking. My creative inclinations start blooming again, and ideas and plans start taking shape. Reflection is important during this period: looking back, looking forward and taking decided action. Knowing how to take decided action is key.

My creative inclinations start blooming again.

Firstly, I do a brain dump of all the goals I am working on and all the new ideas that are swirling in my mind. I also bring my master list to the exercise. I then use the File, Action, Delete method to take action:

File:

There are a number of reasons to file items from both my master list and my new ideas list:

  • I will only need to take action at a later date.
  • I can only take action when I have completed another task.
  • I am waiting for someone else to get back to me about something.
  • I am still planning the action or gathering information about it.
  • I need to oversee activity related to the item but I am not directly involved.
  • I will ‘file’ these items by scheduling them into my calendar so that I remember to follow up on them. When the allotted date comes up, I will then either move the item into the action category or I will delete it.

Action:

Items can be actioned when:

  • I need to take action immediately in order to progress the activity.
  • All tasks that needed to be completed prior to this item are complete.
  • I am not waiting for anyone to provide further information or input on the item.
  • All research and planning around the item are complete.
  • There is a deadline attached to the item.
  • I action these items by immediately taking the next step that is required to progress the goal to its next phase. If there are too many items to action on the spot, I schedule them into my calendar over the next couple of weeks. If an items has been actioned immediately it also gets deleted from the lists.

Delete:

Items can be deleted when:

  • There is no longer a need to complete the item.
  • The item has passed its due date.
  • The item was an idea that never came to fruition.
  • The item requires action from someone else and is not related to you.
  • The item no longer interests you at all.
  • The item was actioned or filed.
  • The FAD method is versatile and can be applied to many areas of work and life. For example, it can be used to clear out an inbox. It can be used to clear out cupboards or storage spaces (with some modification to the language of course: store, use or throw out). It can also be applied to specific projects and their multiple action items. It can be applied to company restructuring when reviewing processes. It can be applied to a personal training regime.

There are many benefits to using the FAD method but I find the following three to be the greatest::

  • A continual sense that my goals and master list are achievable.
  • A very clear focus on what is most important, right now.
  • A sense of regularly de-cluttering which means I do not feel mentally burdened.

Have you used the FAD method before? Where can you see this method being applied in your work and life?

Desktop items or anything else that can build up into clutter: Effective File Management

Featured photo credit: Office shelves full of files and boxes via Shutterstock

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