Do the right thing at the right time (GTD or Getting Things Done) – part 1

in productivity •  2 years ago  (edited)

Do you feel that you do not have the time to read this blog even though we do talk about time? Maybe it's not the right time for you to read an article on how to do the right things at the right time... Combine it with your tea time and read it... it is an opportunity to learn and grow!
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The paradox of lack of time is that we do not seem to find the time to invest it in learning the tools, methods, principles, and rules on how to be better organized and consequently more appropriately engaged in our work and life.

Freedom and control... we want it all!

Instead of calm control, most modern people experience feelings of overwhelmedness and stress. Another paradox related to this topic is that most people would like to have more freedom and at the same time feel the sense of control over their life and work.
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Let's first look at what gives us a sense of freedom. We feel more freedom if and when we have the choice. But to be able to choose between good or even all options of what is best to do in a certain moment of our life, we have to have a list of these options. And this list has to be somewhere out of our head. If and when we stop using our head as an office we immediately feel calmer. We feel that we have some control over work and life. Without a certain degree of control, which allows us to choose from a set of options, there is no sense of freedom.

Do you want to be a better »time manager«?

What is the recommended approach that leads us to see the whole picture and the individual elements as well? There are so many things we want to do and tackle: personal, job-related, big, small, present and future related… How on earth can you make an overview of all this? Not to mention that dynamics of changes is gaining the speed
and it seems that there is less and less time… and it is unmanageable... Which is normal, since we can not manage time. Time management is a buzz word that means nothing. It is an illusion. Because time just is. If you ever tried to stop or speed up the time, you understand what I mean. You can not stop it (even though you wish you could when your children are little) and you can not make it go faster when things are not fine in your life...
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What we can manage is what we do and at what time - how we are engaged... And we have to be aware that our work (business and personal) is not only planned work but we have to incorporate unplanned activities or disruptions.

Traps we fall in...

Many people fall into the trap and react too much to what entered their life just now (e-mail at the top of the list of the mailbox). Another trap is reacting too much to what is "screaming" the most (a colleague who entered the office with the 'urgent' matter). Sometimes one or the other really is an urgent matter (and we have to fight the fire) but very often we just fall into the trap of reacting too much. Very often, such crisis management is a bad habit or even a part of the company's culture. People also resort to crisis management because they do not know better methods.
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When it burns, it must be resolved, and after the successful resolution of the crisis, the feeling of the successfully solved problem is present. But not every one of these fires is inevitable, and some of them were set by us with procrastination and/or a non-systematic approach to managing the commitments.

Use the mind to clear and calm your mind

Our brain is "well-intentioned" and it is reminding us of all our commitments, wishes, due dates…about everything that still needs to be considered, done, completed… In the absence of a reliable system outside of the head, many people resort to trying to remember at least the most important commitments and tasks. But our brains are not a very reliable, nor a rational reminding system.
We are reminded of the things we need to do or want to do (too) many times, and not necessarily at the right time, nor at the right place. Our short-term memory capacity (actually it is not larger than 3-4 things) prevents us from reliably remembering all current commitments. It is clear from theory and experiences that is is just not sensible to use the mind as a reminding system.
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The human brain is not very good at recalling and reminding. On the other hand, the human brain is no less than fascinating at some other operations: it is invincible in recognizing new situations and/or at solving problems or creating new solutions. Therefore, it makes more sense not to burden the brain with issues that can be solved more elegantly (outside of our head). Let's use the brain exclusively for what it's designed for! Being creative! David Allen, the author of the method Getting Things Done says: "Your mind is for creating ideas not holding them!"

So what can we do?

Establish a comprehensive and reliable system outside of your head. Is it even possible to establish and maintain an overview of the whole range of our own commitments, obligations, and desires even though it seems that we are constantly flooded with changes and new things? Yes, I am claiming there is such a system. So nothing in your head, except excellent new ideas! It can be established. And it can be maintained and regularly recalibrated and updated without great difficulty. But it is imperative that we use the mind to establish such system which then helps us to stop keeping stuff and to do lists in our mind. The head is not a good office ... and it's a bad reminding system.
We all need a coherent, efficient and trust-worthy "reminding system". Probably we can agree that head is not a good reminding system. When you stop using your head as an office the feeling of unbearable heaviness of all undone stuff starts to fade away. Let's see what this coherent, efficient and trust-worthy system is… It is called GTD or Getting Things Done.
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In short, the GTD method can be described as a methodology that can help you in all circumstances to focus on exactly the right thing and to be better at getting things done. Here is a revised version of the book Getting Things Done. I translated it in Slovene language and you can find Slovene version here.

The method can be summarized in 5 steps, which you bring more control in any life or work situation.
It this part I will only list them. Description of all 5 steps and best and worst practices will follow in next part of the blog.

5 steps of GTD (Getting Things Done):

  1. COLLECT everything and anything that attracts your attention.
  2. CLARIFY what is the desired outcome and what is first next step.
  3. ORGANIZE results of step 2 in clear and appropriate categories.
  4. REVIEW your GTD system and decide what is best to
  5. ENGAGE in a certain moment of your life.

The GTD method is simple yet comprehensive. Works wonders and it is one of the most popular and appreciated productivity methods for personal and business life all over the world. It works well even for very busy individuals. It is not gender or age bias. It is a universal method that helps you achieve stress-free productivity! It helps you to do the right thing at the right time. Sometimes the right thing is work, sometimes the right thing is run and sometimes the right thing is resting...

Stay tuned for part two where I will go into details of all 5 steps of the GTD methodology!

Thank you for reading and I appreciate your comments and will be glad if I find out that there are some GTD practitioners here on Steemit.


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Being father, runner and engineer at the same time is not easy, believe me that I practice time management since I wake up in the morning till I'm going to sleep.
Good post mate!

Of course, you do what you possibly can to make it all work... still, I am claiming that we can not manage time :) Stay tuned for part 2 when I go into details. The secret is in the details...