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Productivity Made Simple: Where to Start with GTD

Productivity Made Simple: Where to Start with GTD

    Simply GTD

    GTD (or Getting Things Done) is a widely popular personal productivity and time management methodology created by David Allen and described in his book “Getting Things Done”.

    And yes, Lifehack has had its share in covering this area already. For instance, by doing a simple search on Google you can quickly find out that there are more than 6,000 pages on Lifehack that mention GTD in one way or the other.

    So the whole idea seems discussed enough, right? Perhaps…but it is definitely worth revisiting as we enter a new year. Consider that despite thousands of articles around the internet there is still one main problem with GTD – it’s not a methodology that’s easy to grasp.

    It has a learning curve and if you simply throw yourself in the middle of it you might get the wrong overall impression about the system and abandon it after just a short while.

    So if you are new to GTD I have only one favor to ask you: have a little faith that you can get much more productive with GTD and be much less stressed out and uncertain about the tasks you should do both in your work and your personal affairs.

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    This is the true power of GTD, at first it seems complicated, but eventually it becomes one of those can’t-live-without parts of your life.

    Now, I’m not going to describe every possible aspect of GTD here. The first reason is that the book is nearly 300 pages long, and I’m not in a position to claim that I can explain it all in a single blog post. The second reason is that I only want to get you started here, and there’s only a small set of things you need to do for that.

    The GTD adventure starts with one particular exercise. It’s going to take you a while but it’s worth the effort regardless if you’re going to end up implementing the system or not.

    The Brain Dump Exercise

    Take a couple of blank pieces of paper and write down every task (i.e. every thing you have to do) that’s on your mind right now. And by “every task” I mean every task.

    Start by writing down everything work related. All the reports you need to write, all the calls you need to make, all the email you need to write or respond to, all the things your boss told you to do, all the things your clients want from you, and so on … simply everything.

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    If you’re not in a desk job don’t quit here. Simply write down all that is specific to your line of work.

    Then switch to all house related tasks. Cleaning, building, cooking, all the other chores. Also things like calling the plumber, and so on.

    Next in line is your family. Write down every task that’s a part of your family life. Things like visiting your aunt the next weekend, picking your brother up from the airport, making sure that your son does his homework, helping your daughter to choose a college, drop off you spouse for a night out with their friends, again everything you can think of.

    Health and fitness related tasks. Like that doctor’s appointment you need to make for the next week, or those prescription drugs you need to pick up for the kids on you way back from work, or visiting the gym before work to stay in shape, or this new diet you want to find out more about.

    Friends and colleagues. I’m sure there’s something on your mind that’s involving your friends. Maybe you’re meeting them today and need to make a reservation in your favorite pub, not to mention that you need to remember to be there on time. Apart from that, there are hundreds of other things that involve your social life. Give it a minute and try to write down every one of those things.

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    Most people love shopping, everybody hates paying bills. Anyway, both these things are an integral part of our lives. No matter what you do, there are still some things you want / need to buy and some bills you don’t want have to take care of. Write down everything you need to buy and every bill that has to be taken care of by the end of the month.

    We’re not done yet. Next up are books, articles, and education in general. I’m sure there’s a book you really want to read, or an article you need to remember to save for future reference, not to mention all your education related tasks. Like, for instance, remembering not to be late for your Spanish lesson, or making sure that you buy a new guitar tuner before your next guitar class. I’m sure you get the point.

    Now let’s get to some purely positive aspects of life, like hobbies and entertainment. Maybe there’s a movie you want to see, or how about that concert (“are the tickets still available?”), also, I’m sure there’s an upcoming party you want to attend. Think about your hobbies and all the things you want to do to get them going.

    I don’t have any more ideas for additional categories of things, so let me just name this final category as other activities and tasks. Just to give you an example, I’m sure there are things you’ve chosen not to clutter your mind with because you thought you didn’t have the time to do them … write them down too.

    Now, how was it? How long did it take? Do you have absolutely everything on these lists? Just a small hint, if there are less than 300 items on the lists then you haven’t been entirely honest. You need to spend a little more time and complete the list until absolutely everything is on it.

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    Examine The List

    Simply take a look at the list. Can you believe that all these things have been occupying your brain’s resources? Obviously, this is one of the reasons for you being stressed out and afraid that something important might slip your mind.

    Imagine how much better you could use your brain’s resources to think about (and eventually figure out) these things rather than to remember about these things.

    This is what GTD can do for you. It can throw all of them out of your brain and place them in a different location you can trust.

    The lists from this exercise will be the cornerstone for the system, something you will build upon in the next steps. Reflect on it for a while, and make sure that truly everything is there. If not, do a quick update,

    Next time: What to do with the list and how to start implementing GTD the easy way.

    Have you tried GTD yet? How is it working for you? Let us know in the comments.

    (Photo credit: Productivity or Motivation Reminder via Shutterstock)

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    Karol Krol

    Blogger, published author, and founder of a site that's all about delivering online business advice

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    Last Updated on June 19, 2019

    10 Websites To Learn Something New In 30 Minutes A Day

    10 Websites To Learn Something New In 30 Minutes A Day

    Learning something new is always an exciting endeavour to commence. The problem is that most of us get wrapped up in busy distractions throughout the day so that we can never find the time to learn the new skill we want.

    What’s worse is that some of us spend hours learning this new skill only to give up after a few months, which is precious time that goes down the toilet.

    Luckily, there’s a better solution.

    Instead of using our time to sit through long lectures and lengthy video courses, we can take advantage of all the amazing websites that can help us learn a new skill in 30 minutes or less.

    We’ve collected the best sites that teach a diversified list of topics and have decided to share them with you here today. Enjoy!

    1. Lynda

    Estimated time: 20-30 mins
    Topics: Business, marketing, design, software tools

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    Get access to 1,000s of courses with a 10-day free trial to develop your skills in business, photoshop, software, and much more.

    2. Skillshare

    Estimated time: 20-30 mins
    Topics: Cooking, design, software tools, marketing, photography

    Ten dollars per month gets you access to bite-sized, on-demand courses taught by leading experts like Gary Vaynerchuk, Guy Kawasaki, and more.

    3. Hackaday

    Estimated time: 5 mins
    Topics: Life hacks, productivity

    This website delivers tips to make your life better and more productive. Just 5 minutes a day is all you need to learn new life hacks to improve your lifestyle.

    4. Codeacademy

    Estimated time: 15-30 mins
    Topics: Software development

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    A gamified approach to coding, Codeacademy helps anyone build a website through an interactive learning method. Learn any programming language from HTML, CSS, Javascript, Ruby on Rails, and more by actually building instead of spending your time on theory.

    5. 7-min

    Estimated time: 7 mins
    Topics: Health & Fitness

    Do you have just 7 minutes to get in shape? Most of us aren’t in the shape that we want to be because of the lack of time we have. Putting our workout apparel on, driving to the gym, and driving back can take up a lot of our time in themselves.

    In just 7 minutes, this website will go through dozens of routines to get you in shape and ready for the day ahead. Time is no longer an excuse!

    6. Calm

    Estimated time: 10 mins
    Topics: Meditation

    Get guided meditations right to your screen. With Calm, you can learn different types of meditation where a teacher can guide you step-by-step through the process, even if it’s your first time trying meditation.

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    7. Highbrow

    Estimated time: 5 mins
    Topics: Business, creative skills, design, history

    Bite-sized email courses delivered to your inbox every morning to learn everything from film history, marketing, business, and more.

    8. Big Think

    Estimated time: 10 mins
    Topics: Technology, science, life

    Learn from the world’s experts about scientific breakthroughs, revolutionary business concepts, and more in short, chunk-sized videos.

    9. Khan Academy

    Estimated time: 30 mins
    Topics: Academics

    Recognized by Bill Gates as one of the best teachers online, Salman Khan breaks down complicated subjects into simplified concepts to help you understand them in minutes, not weeks.

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    10. Rype

    Estimated time: 15-30 mins
    Topics: Foreign languages

    Are you “too busy” to learn a language? Meet Rype, your personal trainer for languages. Get unlimited 1-on-1 private language lessons with professional teachers around the world. Each lesson is just 30 minutes, allowing you to fit learning a language into your busy lifestyle. You can try it free for 14-days and see for yourself.

    Over to you

    Which of these topics were your favorite?

    We’d love to hear from you, and please share this with friends who are also looking to learn something new!

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