Getting Things Done


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  • A ‘safe harbor’ statement. The difficult part about talking about productivity is that the speaker is often assumed to be the most organized, productive person in the room.\n\nIn reality, the speaker has only likely accepted that he/she has simply become an open hypocrite.\n
  • “HOW do you think most workers would respond if you asked them, “Do you feel more productive now than you did several years ago?” I doubt that the answer would be a resounding yes. In fact, even as workplace technology and processes steadily improve, many professionals feel less productive than ever.\n\n...\n\nMost professionals are still using their subjective, internal mental worlds to try to keep it all together, but that’s a poor way to navigate the new work environment. It results in unclear, distracted and disorganized thinking, and leaves frustration, stress and undermined self-confidence in its wake.”\nSource:\nWe’re all faced with a certain problem in our position as consultants:\n * Our work is not ‘constant’ or often predictable. We’re tasked with different projects, different meetings, different technologies. \n * As many of us have gotten older, we’re also double-tasked with the need to balance a family life with a working life - and try to keep ‘on the level’.\n * All of these things conspire to keep a ‘muddled mind’ - with the various stresses of needing to keep skills up to date, keep projects ons track and keep a ‘clear head’ about us. The things we can’t keep up on (the open loop) is a source of stress, anxiety and even poor performance when trying to keep all of these priorities in balance.\n* Bottom line: when we have committments that we can’t track and can’t meet, we’re completely miserable. “I don’t feel good about what I’m not getting done.”\n\n\n
  • “Getting Stuck” is a major issue in creative and knowledge work. What are the next actions on the project? What’s the most important thing to do right now? What should I be doing?\nOne of the primary goals behind Getting Things Done is to grease the wheels of your own ‘internal communications’: to be able to know exactly what you have to do, what you should be doing and what it might take to get them done. It’s often a great relief to finally see a ‘plan’ in place to make progress, and also to have a firm way of making committments to yourself to accomplish them. An accounting of all of the items on your plate can also allow you to clearly see the things that you *can’t* do - and avoid making those lofty committments that you simply can’t meet.\n\n
  • The inputs of life: “stuff”.\n\nMost of us are constantly barraged by actions: things to do, things to discuss, things to read, things to organize and prioritize. \n\nThe first concept in “Getting Things Done” is the idea of capturing materials into your “inbox”. What is your “inbox”? It can be a single inbox (Allen starts with a very simple paper inbox), but we also have many other inboxes to ‘process’ ranging from \n\n1) An E-Mail inbox (Oh, brother - the e-mail inbox)\n2) Paper\n3) Notes you’ve taken\n4) Telephone calls you’ve had on the road,\n5) Social media accounts\n6) Notes left on your desk.\n\n... etc., etc. \n\nOf importance to GTD is the idea that you should be attempting to capture *everything* in a place that is somewhere out of your head that can be organized and processed.\n
  • Capturing all of the thoughts and ideas floating around in your head so they can be prioritized is key. The only perfect answer to the question of “what should I be capturing” is “everything”.\nOnly by collecting the information that we need to know can we really ‘get it all out of our head’ (the ‘Psychic RAM’ in Allen’s parlance.)\nUp next... processing the inbox.\n
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  • The big question when encountering any item in your inbox. There are two answers here: YES or NO.\nIf NO - then you have three options\n 1) Throw it away.\n 2) File it away for reference.\n 3) Put it in some kind of incubator for possible later action. (The “Maybe/Someday” projects.)\n\nIf YES...\n
  • In Allen’s parlance, anything that could be grouped or take more than one step is a project. These could be dependent steps (this must happen before this can happen, etc.) - or it can simply be a larger grouping of things that can be related. Chances are, you’ll discover projects to be of both kinds.\nFeel free to create projects, but always organize, organize, organize.\n
  • The most important thing: all of your inbox items should be phrased in terms of things you can take action on.\n“Write Unit Test for new method”\n“Call Dr. about appointment.”\n
  • The two minute rule: if it takes less than two minutes - take a step away from the inbox and just do it. It might be responding to an e-mail, a voicemail, etc. - but the two minute rule can really winnow down an inbox.\n
  • Sometimes \n
  • The goal of inbox processing is to organize tasks and projects - not to ‘do them immediately’. After the inbox is processed, then you can feel free to start on your next project - be it in the right ‘context’ or environment.\nThe goal of organizing and deferring while processing is to capture your time most efficiently. Perhaps while waiting the 10-20 minutes for your next meeting you can tackle the task list of one of your projects, or if you have a ‘telephone call’ context, to start making a few phone calls.\n“Defering” in this case is making efficient use of your time and not leaving open loops hanging.\nDeferring can also have a:\n1) Specific time. If so, this needs to go on your calendar. (Keep your calendar sacrosanct.)\n2) “As soon as I can” - which will comprise the next-action lists in projects.\n\nDO NOT let your calendar be a ‘daily to do’ list. Make sure that your calendar is filled only with specific commitments that you *must* meet. Everything else can go into project next-action lists.\n
  • Once the item is ‘assigned’ it should end up somewhere in your next action lists. Organizing action lists is key to GTD organization - most often these lists are organized by context - the best place and time to accomplish the next tasks.\nFor example - as a consultant working on and off site, I might have two lists in proper ‘contexts’ that can only be done in a certain place and time. For example:\nZirous WDM Office\n - Meet with Dave Freeman Re: Rypple Loop\n - Turn in expense reports to Tim Huff\nClient Site\n - Configure Weblogic Cluster for application\n - Meet with project managers RE: status of WebCenter Install\n... etc.\nThe goal is to create lists that allow you to maximize your time in the context you find yourself. David Allen often has lists like “Phone” or “At Computer” to signify tasks that have to be done with certain tools - a system that can be adapted to your own needs.\n\nwhere do all your action reminders go? On “Next Actions” lists, which, along with the calendar, are at the heart of daily action-management organization.\nAny longer-than-two-minute, nondelegatable action you have identified needs to be tracked somewhere. “Call Jim Smith re budget meeting,” “Phone Rachel and Laura’s moms about sleepaway camp,” and “Draft ideas re the annual sales conference” are all the kinds of action reminders that need to be kept in appropriate lists, or buckets, to be assessed as options for what we will do at any point in time.\n If you have only twenty or thirty of these, it may be fine to keep them all on one list labeled “Next Actions,” which you’ll review whenever you have any free time. For most of us, however, the number is more likely to be fifty to 150. In that case it makes sense to subdivide your “Next Actions” list into categories, such as “Calls” to make when you’re at a phone or “Project Head Questions” to be asked at your weekly briefing.\nAllen, David (2002-12-31). Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (p. 41). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition. \n
  • Sometimes there are actions that can be deferred to ‘sometime in the future’. This is what a tickle file is - a way of parking an item for a definitive future, a specific date and time or a reminder to take action on this item sometime in the future.\nFor example, the ‘file your tax return’ action item is valid and worth remembering, but it’s impossible (generally) to start this until February 1 of next year.\n
  • When processing your inbox, always strive to process it to ‘zero’ - clean your plate so you can get down to the business of real work.\nThe goal, as always, is to clear the deck of the input so you can get to doing the right thing at the right time.\n
  • An important part of GTD organization is to review items frequently. David Allen suggests reviewing all projects ‘weekly’ - validating that the projects that are current in your system really do reflect the \n
  • The Weekly Review is that chance to review your lists, reorder and reprioritze and take care of any loose ends or open loops.\n
  • The great thing about “GTD” as a system is that it really is independent of “tool” selection. The real key to adopting a tool or technology is:\n1) Something that you enjoy using.\n2) Something that is easily accessible for you to use often, and whenever you need it.\n3) Something that allows for a certain level of ‘tinkering’.\n4) Something that becomes intensely personal - a mark of ‘who you are’.\n
  • Final thoughts:\nThe other big item of “Getting Things Done” is a focus on using the ‘bottom up’ approach to free yourself to consider the bigger picture. Only by clearing the “Psychic RAM” can you really consider the bigger pictures of life and career.\nAfter all - when really was the last time you had a real ‘career talk’? Chances are - it was in the job interview process, when you were alone in a room with your interviewer freed from the burdens of the day-to-day busy work at your last job. Having that kind of talk without the ‘busy’ certainly made a new job sound appealing, didn’t it?\nWhile we often state our values, desires and goals in different ways, ‘the busy’ often ends up defining *us* \n
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  • Getting Things Done

    1. 1. getting things done
    2. 2. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of theflesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my ownactions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the verything I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agreewith the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer Iwho do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I knowthat nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.For I have the desire to do what is right, but not theability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want,but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Nowif I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it,but sin that dwells within me.
    3. 3. are you feelingmore productive?
    4. 4. Things rarely get stuck becauseof lack of time. They get stuckbecause the doing of them hasnot been defined. David Allen Getting Things Done (p. 19)
    5. 5. If you’re waiting to have a goodidea before you have any ideas,you won’t have many ideas. David Allen Getting Things Done (p. 60).
    6. 6. is it actionable?
    7. 7. is it part of alarger project?
    8. 8. what’s the next action?
    9. 9. the two minute rule
    10. 10. delegate it
    11. 11. defer it
    12. 12. action lists
    13. 13. the ‘tickle’ file
    14. 14. inbox zero
    15. 15. the weekly review
    16. 16. You will invariably takein more opportunitiesthan your system canprocess on a dailybasis. David Allen
    17. 17. the right tool
    18. 18. Your work is to discoveryour work and then withall your heart to giveyourself to it. Buddha
    19. 19. thank you!
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