The sacrifices you’ll need to make for GTD® to solve your problems

By johannatime On March 30, 2015 Under Quality of Life and Work

As far as I know, Getting Things Done® (GTD®), invented by David Allen, is the most sensible, sustainable and only effective approach for time and work flow management and productivity. In some cases, it will prevent burn out and in all cases it brings peace of mind, because it gets you back in control of the controllable things in work and life. In a few words, what you do is organising all your to do’s in one fully reliable system (paper and/or digital, however you like it and with whatever supplies you have available) and maintaining it so it stays fresh, in order for your mind to let go and relax, no matter how busy you are.

GTD® is not a trick and you cannot buy it. There is no quick fix, but it will fix all of your overwhelm and procrastination. GTD® requires practice and changing habits, so yes, you will need to make some sacrifices. Having these problems fixed, however, is priceless.

Here are 5 of the most common problems associated with being busy and disorganised, the solution GTD® offers, and the effort you’ll need to make:

#1: Overwhelm and being out of control

Overwhelm happens when there seems to be too much to do in too little time and feeling anxious about that. The anxiety often comes from being unable to see the full picture of urgent and important things that need to get done and being aware that you don’t know what will fall between the cracks. There will always be too much to do and too little time, the trick is to know exactly what you are not doing.

So to ease your fear, face all the tasks that need completion. Make a complete inventory of everything that needs action in any way. Set up a seamless system in which to capture and collect your actionables, process and organise every single item according to the same algorythm each time. Your reward is to be back in control, keeping every promise and meeting every deadline effortlessly and stress-free.

#2: Caught in the busy trap

The busy trap is dangerous! You’ll get caught in it when you are so busy that you cannot step back from your work any longer. You’ll start thinking you have no time to reflect on your purpose so you’ll keep going. As a result, you may well drift off and end up lost and exhausted, if not drowned.

So you’ll need to stop yourself to look back and to look ahead. You’ll need to pause your doing in order to think beyond tomorrow’s to do list. By investigating your purpose and your vision, you’ll be able to see the bigger picture of all you are doing, and you’ll start doing the right things in order to get there.

#3: A full e-mail inbox

How many (read and unread) e-mails are sitting in your inbox at the moment? And how many of those came in before today? E-mails queueing in your inbox are reminders of unfinished business and therefore causing stress and anxiety.

An out of control inbox is part of problem #1 (overwhelm) and problem #2 (busy trap) yet it is solvable without first solving problem #1 and #2. What you need to do is process your inbox daily according to the same algorythm and you will have a zero inbox every day. Certainly, new e-mails will gather in your inbox, but they will be no more than 24 hours old, a calming thought.

#4: Having trouble prioritising

Do you have a to do list at all? How many actions are on it? Do you actually use it? Is it just getting longer? Maybe you have a to do list per project or client? Then there may be a problem.

A to do list, should be a ‘next actions list’ that only holds doable and finishable commands to yourself. Also, you’ll need to categorise your actions according to context, time, energy and/or priority, and in that order of importance. Yes, context, time and energy are more important than priority. Once you’ve organised your to do’s along those lines, your system will serve you the task that gives you the highest possible pay off in that moment: Effortless yet acurate prioritising.

#5:Spending too much time on organising your work, or simply being messy

Many professionals are terrible at organising their work, simply because we don’t learn it at school, and particularly because smart tidying isn’t recognised as a professional skill. So people waste time doing it poorly or not bothering at all.

Work and life have complicated dynamics that are often not respected in any old do-it-yourself-to-do-list.  Organising your work and life just right by differentiating the dynamics of actionables will save you tons of time. On top of that, you’ll need to maintain it regularly and frequently by doing a weekly review.

Investing some time and effort in setting up your own GTD® system is worth your while. Which (combination) of the above is your problem? If you struggle to solve them all by yourself, please get in touch with me. I can help and I’d love to work with you. And of course, feel free to comment below:

Johanna Jansen

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