Workshop Follow-up

Today was my first attempt at the "Life Organizing Workshop." I had ten participants and it was absolutely a HUGE SUCCESS! My notes are attached (in OOo and PDF formats) and are hereby released into the public domain. Please note that much of the content is credited to someone else. If you are copying any parts, please give credit as appropriate.

My workshop was divided as follows:

1st Hour: Values and Assessment
  • intro to life organization
  • different approaches (top-down vs bottom-up)
  • activity: identify your values (see attached). I also had two other hand outs for this activity. One was from and the second was from
  • (I then read them my description of a dream career from the exercise described in Forget The Parachute---it wasn't a sharing kind of group, but I think it's nice to have at least one person to compare/contrast your own answers against.)
  • activity: how do you use your time (see attached)
2nd Hour: Capture and Systems
  • limiting the number of "inboxes" you have
  • the joy of a label maker in moving from a piling system to a filing system (I had them make their own labels for the folder that had their hand outs... I bet virtually all of them will go out and buy a label maker)
  • learning to overcome the tendency to use the "inbox" as "storage"
  • activity: everyone was given a stack of 100 sheets of paper (just tiny ones, from a multi-coloured pad of paper). I had them write down every thing they could think of that needed to be done while I read from the list of triggers in GTD. At first most thought there was NO WAY they would need 100 sheets. Then some of them asked for more paper (which you could see because they had two colours in their stack). The best moment was when one participant refused more paper... and then about 45 seconds later asked for more sheets. This one was a great activity! Next I had them sort through the pile to look for slips that they could complete in less than two minutes....
3rd Hour: Systems and Processing
This is when I started handing out some sample templates. some were from core, some were contributed, and some were my own. I also showed them how my own planner is put together in terms of sections and how I've gone through different styles of templates in the (almost a) year that I've been committed to DIYing it.

  • The first one I handed out was "TODO." They transferred the little pile of "less than two minute items" onto one TODO list and pitched the smaller sheets. This was really exciting for a lot of them to see a brain dump converted into a single, tangible TODO list.
  • next I handed out three sample project templates (1x three different flavours) and I told them to choose three projects (for which they had slips) and write down the name of the project across the top as well as the first two minute actionable item at the top. I also gave them a "goal" template at this time and talked about setting goals within projects. They loved the Core template that had the "wildly successful if..." section.
  • then I handed out some "supplemental" templates (e.g. meeting notes, important phone numbers)
  • finally the date-based template. I should have given a few options (e.g. page-a-day; columns; weekl-per-page; etc)... but I find that the page-per-week has always been good enough and if people know they need something else, chances are they know exactly what they need and can find the relevant template.

In the end we charged $25/person including photocopies and everyone left motivated and inspired.

lifeorganizingworkshop.odt20.57 KB
lifeorganizingworkshop.pdf253.96 KB
Syndicate content

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.


On your first workshop! It sounds like it was a great time and I wish I could have been there. Keep up the great work!

Happy Day,
nay nay


I think I enjoyed leading it as much as the participants enjoyed doing it. It was also a great excuse for me to go through all the templates again and think about whether or not the ones I'd chosen were really (still) the best ones for me. I ended up redoing about a third of the templates in my own organizer!

I like what you did here. So

I like what you did here. So you know, my integration of diyplanning in my classes is going well too. I'll write more about it when I can make conclusions other than "they seem to find it usefull so far".

DIY in the classroom

Great, I look forward to your thoughts too!

One of the participants talked about how she might be able to implement the system with her two kids. At this point there's a pile of stuff on the kitchen table that needs to be there so that she remembers to think about it; however, it's also untidy and stressful to see. She's now thinking about having an inbox/tray on the table (one tray for each of her two kids) with a labeled file folder for each of the home work projects/fund raising projects/etc. I think most of my participants came out of the workshop with new ideas on how to think about "projects" --- whereas the daily schedule they felt was established/under control.

The other thing you may want to consider for the classrooms is having a checklist glued onto the outside of the file folder that identifies which stage of the project that file folder is at. I got this idea from an author (Getting Things Written). The checklist is a fantastic idea though and I wish I had more projects which fit into some kind of identifiable set of stages (including remembering to send the invoice when the work is done). Or maybe everyone already knows about this idea--maybe I even read about it here first. My brain is mush today. :)