The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
Life gets busy. Has Getting Things Done been gathering dust on your bookshelf? Instead, learn some of the key insights now.
Disclaimer: This is an unofficial summary and analysis.
David Allen’s Perspective
David Allen is an author, consultant, international lecturer, and founder of the David Allen Company. Forbes recognized David Allen as one of the top five executive coaches in the United States. Leadership Magazine quoted him as one of the “Top 100 thought leaders.” Finally, Fast Company hailed David Allen, “One of the world’s most influential thinkers” in the arena of personal productivity.
Free Audiobook Summary
Getting Things Done identifies how you can maximize your ability to plan and actualize tasks and projects. GTD has now become a popular approach for getting professional and personal tasks completed within the management realm. That said, Allen’s approaches are meant to be generalizable to all facets of your life.
StoryShot #1: Get in Control of Your Life
An out of control life will make it impossible to think strategically or plan effectively. So, Allen recommends obtaining control of your daily tasks before focusing on the bigger picture. Getting things done is a bottom-up approach to productivity. The goal of this approach is to establish a sense of control over your work. This control will free up the mental energy required to think about lifelong goals.
StoryShot #2: Define Your Perception of Finished
To get things done, you have to understand your own definition of finishing something. Most people have a list of to-dos that don’t even have a clear vision of what a finished task looks like. This approach does not align with your natural tendencies. Your brain is designed to solve problems where you understand what the endpoint is. This means you should always seek to establish a clear stopping point. If you are struggling to make progress, ensure that you are still aware of what done looks like.
StoryShot #3: The Five Phases of Effective Work
Your work is considerably more effective if you have all your required resources in one place before you begin. You will also make better use of your available inputs if all your resources are together. So, engage in collecting. Collecting is the act of gathering resources, knowledge, and tasks.
As well as gathering all relevant resources, you must also establish what you can do with the resources at your disposal. Allen calls this processing. Separate and allocate your resources to prioritize what you are planning on doing next. This can be done by task, project, or plan. Processing means emptying the box or drawer and defining the next executable action for all items you’ve collected in the first step. Most people find it difficult to act on a specific task because they do not know what they need to do next. Without defining, the chore is nothing more than an abstract idea and will keep popping up in your thoughts.
After processing, you then have to take your results and place them into a system you trust. The importance of this system is that it means you won’t have to remember all the processing results. Organizing allows you to place these results in a useful format. Allen recommends placing tasks on to-do lists and projects on project lists. Then, place future plans on a tracking system, and reference information in a file or database.
‘Doing’ is simply the process of taking action on the plans you have already established. So, ‘doing’ means working through the tasks you can accomplish right now.
After taking action, you need to examine the results of your work. After examining, revise your strategy accordingly and improve your systems for better results. In this step, you regularly confirm you have defined the right tasks and have included everything that needs to be done. This reviewing phase should take about one or two minutes for a daily review. Spend ten minutes for a weekly review.
StoryShot #4: Stop Storing Things in Your Head
People tend to attempt to store everything in their minds. Our brains are not optimized for memory storage. They are optimized for quick decision-making.
So, try to avoid juggling information within your head. To achieve maximum efficiency, the brain must focus 100% on the task at hand. Never dwell on pending projects or other unrelated concerns. One way to do this is to stop for a moment and place all the important stored information down onto a piece of paper. Some people prefer to write this information while others prefer drawing. Either way, you want to get your stored information out of your brain. Once you have done this, you will find it far easier to make decisions based on this information.
This approach will complement your brain, but it should also prevent stress. If you reduce the friction experienced when capturing ideas, you’ll naturally capture more of them.
StoryShot #5: Projects and Tasks Are Different
A common mistake is tracking projects and tasks in the same way. Another mistake is conflating projects and tasks within the same review process. Conflating the two is a surefire way to overwhelm yourself. Including long-term projects alongside your daily tasks will make you feel like a failure. In your eyes, you will fail this long-term project for the months or years it takes for you to complete it.
Due to the difference in time frames between projects and tasks, you should track them differently and in a different space. For example, using post-it notes for tasks and a journal for your projects.
StoryShot #6: Always Seek the Next Action
Big projects can quickly become overwhelming due to their complexity. So, instead of focusing on the distant past goals, you should simply focus on the next action required to move forward. Building on this point, only ever focus on actions you can do right now. If a task is impossible at the moment, there is no point worrying about it.
StoryShot #7: Utilize the 2-Minute Rule
Allen recommends tracking tasks. This rule does not apply to your small tasks. Tasks that take two minutes or less should never be tracked. If you start tracking these short tasks, you will spend more time writing down tracked times than actually acting. Delegate when you feel another person could do the task faster and/or better than you. All remaining chores should be organized in a system. The system can include different types of lists. People to call, people to write an E-mail, and a list of actions for different projects you are working on. Immediately plan tasks into your calendar that are time-bound.
Getting Things Done Cheat Sheet PDF
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Getting Things Done App
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Getting Things Done PDF, Free Audiobook and Animated Book Summary
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