It may seem like the most obvious – perhaps even patronizing – productivity tip myself or anyone else has ever given you but, are you ready for it? If you want to be more productive, you should try harder to get things done, or GTD.
This isn’t your average Jersey Shore acronym, however. Instead, it symbolizes a well-oiled, well-thought-out productivity strategy created by David Allen, author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. I know I struggle with procrastination, and I bet you do too on some level. Whether based out of fear, laziness or sheer stubbornness, we all need a little prompting and encouragement now and then to keep us on the straight and narrow.
Allen does exactly that. He encourages taking a step back from the chaos of our lives for a day or two to audit, edit and then organize everything. It’s essentially like spending your Saturday cleaning out your garage, except this time, the “garage” is your life, your desk and your electronics. The goal is not to free up space to fit more junk, however. Instead, it’s about focusing your time and energy on the tasks and prospects that are likely to yield the best results.
While I recommend reading the book, if you want to jump start your GTD process you can do so by organizing your physical clutter (i.e. desk, inbox, voicemails, etc.), prioritizing and making a pointed to-do list at the end of the week.
When creating this list, be sure to:
- Define your tasks
- Plan how you will conquer these tasks
- Identify “messy” or “undefined” tasks and work to execute them as well
Once your list of tasks has been set, get to it! Keep a standing weekly self-review on Friday to determine what you did well, where you can improve, and how you can work to continually define and wrangle those undefined tasks that can create extra work and derail productivity.
The ultimate goal of a successful GTD program is to determine what contributes to your professional advancement and inches you closer to your goals, and what places you further away. Once those activities and commitments are identified, it’s much easier to invest your time, energy and brain power where they are most likely to pay large dividends.