Getting Things Done

Your Mind Is For Having Ideas, Not Holding Them

A process for increasing your own productivity and for bringing order and action to your chaotic and random personal world



Introduction to Getting Things Done

“Getting Things Done” is a personal productivity methodology based on storing, tracking, and retrieving the information related to the things that you need to get done.

The getting things done system of processes was created by productivity consultant David Allen who wrote and marketed a book of the same name in 2001.

If you don't use some of personal system of dealing with the mass of things that you need to deal with you will soon accumulate a mass of unresolved "things to do" and all of the attendant stress and hassle that goes with that.







Why Aren't You Getting Things Done?


[1] You have no process in place for getting things done

The human brain likes shortcuts [heuristics] which are predefined processes for how to handle situations as they arise.

You use these shortcuts all the time. Every action that you take is a predefined process that you have either been taught or that you have worked out for yourself. Making a cup of coffee, using your laptop or smartphone, opening a door, greeting someone, the list is endless and encompasses every area of life.

You do all these things automatically. But in each case it starts with a structured learning process,  often referred to as the conscious competence learning model, where having recognised that you have a problem and lack a particular skill you seek training or instruction, practise it and master it until it becomes something that you do automatically -  an unconscious competence - it becomes a habit.

If you don't have a process for dealing with stuff as it occurs and lands on your desk, in-box, "to do list", it accumulates and consciously or unconsciously you worry about. It occupies space in your brain and burns mental energy and can cause mental blocks.

OK I know that for many people this is a very real problem, but if you take a step back and think about this - can you imagine NOT having processes in place for doing and dealing with all the everyday things that you do?

Can you imagine walking over to the coffee machine and having to figure out how to make yourself a coffee every single time?

Can you imagine NOT knowing how to greet people and say hello or engage in social conversation?

Can you imagine having to try and figure this out every single time you meet someone?

Obviously life would be extremely difficult and unpleasant and you would feel overwhelmed and experience all sorts of mental blocks and eventually experience mental and emotional health problems.

Well this is precisely what happens to you every single day that you do not have a process in place for getting things done.

By the way, and just to be clear, I have no personal axe to grind on the "Getting Things Done" process. It is one of a large number of time management and personal productivity tools and I am featuring it here because it is popular and features heavily in online searches.

The key thing is that you have some process in place for getting things done.






[2] You waste so much time and energy thinking about and worrying about not getting things done.

The stress on not dealing with stuff as it arises can cause a form of brain fog, and mental blocks can arise which in turn lead to procrastination, which in turn causes you to waste more mental energy worrying about the brain fog, mental blocks and procrastination...

The stress and hassle of not getting things done vastly outweighs the effort of putting some form of system and process for dealing with "stuff" as it arises.

And yet, despite knowing this, so many people continue to muddle along in a cloud of miasmic, mind numbing, mental fog. Why? Short answer: resistance to personal change.

As always with situations of personal change, until the desire to want to change - and learn and implement a process for getting things done - heavily outweighs your resistance to change, the dominant inertia will continue to prevail.






[3] Without a reminder system external to your brain you will forget and stress it further

A key part of any effective system for getting things done is to get all it out of your head and keep it that way.

In addition to the front end process of sorting, categorising, and processing stuff, it is equally important to have a reliable external reminder system.

This way your mind can be present and entirely engaged with the task in hand, and it will not be continually stressed by every input.


"Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them."[David Allen]







Getting Things Done - The Fundamentals

Five clear steps that apply order to chaos:


1. CAPTURE - Collect what has your attention - write, record, or gather any and everything that has your attention into a collection tool.

It’s hard to prioritise until you have taken stock of everything you have to do. So, in this first step, you’ll brain-dump all of your current obligations onto paper, a Google Doc or whatever platform you feel comfortable using.

The absolute rule is get everything out of your head, as David Allen says: “your head is a crappy office.”


2. CLARIFY - Process what it means . Is it actionable? If so, decide the next action and project (if more than one action is required). If not, decide if it is trash, reference, or something to put on hold. 

Clarify everything you have to do.

What is the outcome? Is there a next actionable step?

If there isn't one then you need to do one of three things:

  • Trash it.
  • Store it in a someday/maybe list.
  • File it for reference when needed.

If there’s an action to take, then what is it?

If the action will take less than two minutes, do it.

If it will take more than two minutes then add it to your “Waiting On” list.

Or you can defer it, scheduling it on your calendar to do at a specific time with specific next action steps to make getting the work started easier.


3. ORGANIZE - Put it where it belongs. Park reminders of your categorized content in appropriate places.

“Being organized means simply that where something is matches what it means to you.”


Organize your actionable items, and park them based on their category and priority.

Don’t actually get started doing anything on your list. Just organize in this stage.


4. REFLECT - Review frequently

Next, reflect your to do list, and decide what your next action should be.

In step two, you clarified what your next actions on each item should be; therefore, you should easily be able to pick an action you have the time and energy to do.


5. REVIEW - Update and review all pertinent system contents to regain control and focus.

Finally, your "to-do" items are organized by priority and stored in categories, and you’ve decided which next action you have the time and energy for right now.

This means you are now at the stage for getting things done!








Getting Things Done - Resources







Touch Points With Related Articles







Return to: How To Think






Zen-Tools.Net



English Chinese (Traditional) Russian French German Italian Spanish Vietnamese


LATEST ARTICLES

  1. Your Relationship With Failure Is Critical To Your Success

    Just Because You Have A Spectacular Failure Doesn’t Mean The Game Is Over. The thought that you could fail can really slow you down. But the problem is not the failure, the problem is your relationshi…

    Read More

  2. Lost, Stuck & Going Round In Circles?

    Are You Lost In Transition? To be in an alien North African city, late in the evening, in the dark, completely lost in transition from the main market square back to the obscure location of our Riad…

    Read More

  3. Seeing Is Believing Or Is It?

    Do You Believe What You See Or Do You See What You Believe? Like the characters in "The Matrix" we are fooled by the illusion that what we see is how things really are. Why? Because this is the mind's…

    Read More

  4. What Difference Did You Make?

    What Impact Will You Leave In The Lives Of Others? If you knew you were going to die tonight and you were given a few minutes to reflect before that happened, what would you say was the meaning of yo…

    Read More

  5. Compassion Is Selfish And You Need It

    If You Want Others To Be Happy, Practice Compassion. If You Want To Be Happy, Practice Compassion. Compassion is derived from the Latin words "com pati" meaning to suffer with. It has been defined as…

    Read More

  6. The Placebo Effect - 2 Key Takeaways

    The Power Of Expectation Of An Outcome Regardless Of The Lack Of Any Substance To That Expectation. Traditionally, the placebo effect occurs when false, or dummy, treatments of inert substances [that…

    Read More

  7. The Red Pill

    This Is What Will Happen After You Take It. "This is your last chance," rebel leader Morpheus tells Neo, holding a coloured pill in each hand. “You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in y…

    Read More

  8. Transformational Life Hacks

    This Has To Be One Of The Best Ways For Living The Best Life You Can Possibly Live. An online search on life hacks will invariably provide you with multiple links to ways of increasing your productivi…

    Read More

  9. This Too Shall Pass

    The Blessing And The Curse Of Impermanence. There is a story of a king who sought wisdom. Eventually he heard of a man living in a remote part of the kingdom who had a reputation for great wisdom. The…

    Read More

  10. The Stories We Tell Ourselves

    The Stories That We Tell Ourselves Are A Matter Of Choice. The stories we tell ourselves form the backcloth and the tapestry of our lives. These narratives shape and define our sense of self and how a…

    Read More

  11. Who Do You Trust?

    Trust Is A Choice And It Creates Your Reality. Nothing in life is permanent and nothing lasts forever. Every relationship ends in tears. Somebody leaves or somebody dies. This is how things are. This…

    Read More

  12. How Positive Asymmetry Can Transform Your Life

    Finding This Hidden Value Is The Key To A Huge Upside. Most of us spend our lives working to linear rules where there is an equal relationship between effort and result. Work hard you get a result. Wo…

    Read More

  13. 5 Tips For Developing A Growth Mindset

    How To Be There When Preparation Meets Opportunity. The growth mindset holds the core belief that your intelligence and personality is something you can develop and that you can expand and grow. The p…

    Read More

  14. Lost For Words? Experience Truth

    If you can't think of the right thing to say, say nothing. The concepts we employ, the categorizations we apply and the words we choose and use to articulate a direct experience put us in a double bi…

    Read More

  15. Belief - A Terrible Tyrant Or An Empowering Servant

    To Believe Or Not To Believe - That Is The Question. Nothing has inflicted more suffering on humanity than its beliefs and dogmas. The religious and cultural beliefs that sanction and allow or impose…

    Read More

  16. How To Avoid Herd Mentality

    How To Stay Far From The Madding Crowd. Herd mentality describes how we make decisions based on what everyone else is thinking and doing. It is also known as a mob or crowd mentality. We follow the he…

    Read More

  17. Are You Trying To Teach A Cat To Bark?

    We Suffer Every Time We Believe A Thought That Argues With What Is. When your mind is perfectly clear, what is, is what you want. If you want reality to be different than it is, you might as well try…

    Read More

  18. The Value Of Slack

    Slack Is The Capacity To Effect Change And The Resource To Deal With The Unexpected. Many organizations are obsessed with efficiency and try to ensure that every resource is fully utilized to its full…

    Read More

  19. 6 Tips To Help You Stop Trying Too Hard

    Less and less do you need to force things, until you arrive at non-action. We are brought up to believe that we get what we want in life as a result of what we do, by the actions that we take, that ha…

    Read More

  20. Your Point Of Focus

    Is It Helping You Or Hindering You? Your point of focus is the central point of your attention. Your point of focus is a binary choice and the result of that choice is critical to your happiness, your…

    Read More

  21. Your Secret For Success

    To accomplish any success in life, you must identify accurately what it is that you hunger for, thirst for and long for. The purpose of this article is to look at the foundation of the secret for succ…

    Read More

  22. Can You Stop Thinking?

    Discover The Joy Of A Quiet Mind Can you stop thinking? According to Zen Buddhist priest Shunmyo Masuno the art of not thinking about anything is not easy to achieve. Even practising monks find it dif…

    Read More

  23. How To Build Self Confidence

    What Is Holding You Back From Pursuing Your Dreams? Your self confidence is based on ability. Your self confidence is all about your level of trust, faith and belief in your abilities [your power] and…

    Read More

  24. How To Overcome Fear And Perform Powerfully

    Learning how to overcome fear and perform powerfully is a skill that we all need to acquire as fear of failure affects most of us at some point in our lives. Whilst it is natural to feel a level of fe…

    Read More

  25. Dance Into The Light And Stop Chasing Your Tail

    You are creating hell on earth when you are too subsumed within your underlying and deeply embedded negative energetic states. To counter your dissatisfactions and misery you initially go unconscious…

    Read More

  26. Change Your Language To Change How You Feel

    How you mentally characterize a situation has a profound impact on how you respond to it emotionally. There is a direct causal link between how you think about a situation, the words you use to articu…

    Read More

  27. How To Live In A Participatory Universe

    What good is a universe without somebody around to look at it? What Conclusions Can We Draw About Living In A Participatory Universe? The inescapable conclusion is that the world and the universe (wit…

    Read More

  28. 4 Keys To Working With The Energy Of Life

    The journey home to the energy of life does not consist in arriving at a new destination it is a coming home to one’s self. [1] How are you feeling, what is your dominant emotion right now? [2] Where…

    Read More

  29. How To Deal With The Challenges Of Playing The Long Game

    You have to be willing to suffer today in order to reap enormous rewards tomorrow. The long game is so hard to play because it involves taking a series of very small steps, that people rarely see, per…

    Read More

  30. If You Don't Take Care Of You, Who Will?

    How To Build Self Esteem In my early life and until my early twenties I suffered from a deep inferiority complex and low self esteem. Forty years later and, said in sincerity and with humility, I have…

    Read More





The Balanced Life



The Balanced Toolkit



3 Keys Solutions


Get new posts by email:



Support This Site