We all struggle to get things done at times.
Whether it’s at work or at home, the inability to complete a to-do list or finally get onto that project you’ve been putting off for months is incredibly frustrating. There’s a simple reason for this: we’re all human, and humans are notoriously bad at remaining focused when there are so many distractions in modern life. This has led to a huge number of productivity techniques being devised, but one is arguably more noticeable than most if you search online or via Wikipedia.
Getting Things Done (or ‘GTD’ for short) is a productivity method – not just a sentence. Today, we’ll dive deep into GTD and find out how it will benefit your working and personal life.
What does it mean to get things done?
In order to be successful either at work or at home, you need to be able to complete tasks. These could be big or small tasks and their urgency can vary wildly. Regardless, their success is all defined by the same result: completion.
Beyond completion, you can look at the true merits of whatever it is you’ve achieved, but the task of actually starting and finishing stuff is a strategy in itself.
More importantly, in the world of GTD, it’s something you can apply to every single task you have to undertake. This is why it’s a method that has become so popular and successful for millions of people.
How do you get things done?
There are lots of ways to get things done, but not every method will suit everyone.
For instance, you may have tried the Kanban principle for your own work and it might work perfectly. For others, they may prefer to invest heavily in the deep work mindset.
This is what productivity is all about: it’s a deeply personal thing; what works for you may not work at all for your colleague or best friend.
There is something that all productivity methods share, though – the desire to finish tasks. And, at its base level, this is what GTD is all about; wanting to complete the projects you’re working on.
If you have zero personal investment in a task, why would you ever bother to finish it?
So, before you get started with GTD, it’s sensible to review your tasks, projects and goals and make sure you’re really invested in their completion. If you’re not, address the source of the problem first.
How do you use the GTD method?
Every successful GTD strategy relies on five key ‘pillars’:
- Capture. How many times have you had a brilliant idea or thought of a crucial to-do only to completely forget it later on? You should capture everything as part of GTD – ideas, to-dos, thoughts – the lot.
- Clarify. Let’s say one of your to-dos for today is ‘finish marketing report’. What does that mean exactly? Break it down into steps and clarify what you’ll need to do in order to successfully complete the task.
- Organise. Once you have your to-do list, you need to sort the items so they’re in order of priority. Think about the urgency of each item and if there’s stuff you can move to future dates, do so.
- Reflect. Do this regularly with your to-do list; make sure you reserve time at the start and end of each day to assess how the to-do list looks. How did you get on? Are you planning too much for tomorrow?
- Engage. Pick the next item on your to-do list and get on with it. Engage with the task in hand until it’s finished, or until you’ve reached its next milestone.
If you follow the five pillars above, you’ll immediately be applying GTD to everything you do. It’s that straightforward!
How to be more productive?
It’s a perennial question: how can you be more productive at work?
The answer varies for everyone, but there are some guiding principles that we can all abide by in order to get more stuff done in a shorter amount of time:
- only create a to-do list that looks sensible and which you know you can realistically complete;
- set small goals that, when combined, amount to bigger goals;
- work in chunks by focusing on one small goal at a time;
- track your time to identify where most of it is going and where you can cut out unnecessary tasks;
- delegate tasks wherever possible;
- discover where you’re most productive and focus the bulk of your effort there;
- tackle the stuff you’re dreading the most, first;
- declutter your working space;
- remove as many distractions as you can;
- make sure you fit in plenty of exercise breaks;
- reflect on each day to see what worked and what didn’t, GTD-wise; and
- stop multi-tasking – it’s one of the worst ways to waste loads of productive time.
How can I work quickly?
One of the most effective ways to get more stuff done in a day is to work quicker. But, that’s easier said than done.
It starts by separating your work area from your personal life. If you’ve got a spare room or garage in which you can do this – brilliant. If you haven’t just try and find a corner of a room that can be dedicated entirely to work.
Next, turn off all non-essential technology and only switch the stuff on that you need to get the current task done. And yes, if that means downing your smartphone for a bit – do it!
It’s also important to set yourself a daily routine – however that might take shape.
The GTD strategy doesn’t demand that you stick by a regular 9-5. On the contrary, it simply asks that you work the hours during which you’re most productive. Do that, and you’ll find that you work far quicker than normal and to a much higher standard.
Who is the author of Getting Things Done?
GTD is the brainchild of a chap called David Allen, a business maestro who has spent decades perfecting the art of productivity.
The author of Getting Things Done has transformed the fortunes of so many people, and he could do the same for you.
It’s time to up your productivity game, big time.
If you’ve known you need to do that for some time but have struggled to find the best way to do so, GTD could be your knight in shining armour.