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The Only 5 Tools You Need to Implement GTD

The Only 5 Tools You Need to Implement GTD

    If you visit Lifehack regularly then I’m sure you’ve noticed the Getting Things Done series that’s been featured here lately. In recent weeks I’ve been discussing the methodology itself, and how to use it in your everyday efforts (both work and personal projects).

    What I didn’t do, however, is point you towards specific tools you can use to make your GTD life easier. Well, that is exactly what I’m going to do today.

    Let me just remind you that there are 7 main elements of GTD: Projects List, Next Tasks List, Future/Maybe List, Calendar, “Waiting for” List, Resource Files, and the intangible element – trust.

    Each of these can be handled using the simplest tools possible – pen and paper. But since we live in the 21st century, then it’s probably not the most effective way around for some people.

    What follows is a list of great tools that are either GTD-friendly right from the get-go, or can be easily adjusted to fit the GTD way of working.

    Your Inbox

    As I said in one of the posts in the GTD series (Your Daily Graph of Activity), most people usually start their work in their inboxes.

    These inboxes don’t have to be actual inboxes (email or traditional mailboxes). As defined in GTD an inbox is “simply the place where all the incoming things land”. This gives us many possibilities regarding the actual tools or software we want to use for our inboxes.

    Some tools and software that tend to work best are:

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    1. Every email software

    This is obvious, but the simplest solutions are often the best. Your email software (no matter what you use) is set up perfectly well to be used as an inbox for some incoming things because…well, it simply has an inbox in it — and every email you get is waiting there for you to read it.

    One important thing to remember, however, is that when dealing with new emails is you should take action on them immediately.

    But what to do when you encounter a new request that hasn’t been sent via email? This is where other tools come into play.

    2. Remember The Milk

    Remember The Milk (or RTM) is a great tool and it has a lot more GTD applications than just acting like an inbox.

    First of all, RTM is essentially a to-do list application. It’s available online (for all operating systems), and also it has a lot of versions for other platforms (iPhone, iPad, Android).

    However, to actually call it simply a “to-do list application” is quite an understatement. It can be used for any kind of activity where lists of things come handy.

    For example, since there’s an iPhone version, you can use it as a grocery list when you’re shopping or as a simple notepad you can use on the go so no brilliant ideas escape your mind. Or you can use it as an additional inbox. Whenever you stumble upon a new request that hasn’t been sent via email you can put it into a separate list inside RTM (preferably one named “inbox”).

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    Going back to RTM itself. The tool is very easy to use. It supports multiple lists, four levels of priorities, tags, many keyboard shortcuts (they make working with RTM lightning-quick once you get a hang of them), RSS feeds, iCal feeds, reminders, and more.

    Projects List

    Often the Project List is quite an extensive piece of GTD real estate…so to speak. It needs to be perfectly organized so every project is easy to grasp and easy to work with.

    For me, there’s only one way of doing this properly – using mind maps.

    Just to remind you (courtesy of Wikipedia), a mind map is “a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea”. Or in plain English – it’s the best way of giving your thoughts a physical form (in this case, creating a digital representation of your thoughts).

    Most projects are only semi-organized around many different thoughts that do make sense all together, but are hard to put into a traditional list or text document. Mind maps, however, can handle such a situation exceptionally well. This is why mind maps are perfect to handle your Projects List.

    3. FreeMind

    When it comes to mind mapping digitally (on a computer), there are many tools that can make it possible. Nevertheless, there’s one really worth checking out. It’s called FreeMind.

    The name gives quite a good hint that the tool is free — and that’s a good thing. But there’s more good news — there are versions available for most popular platforms and operating systems. Not only that, but you can also download “binaries” (FreeMind is a true open source project).

    But the best news of all is this: FreeMind is the easiest to use, quickest, and smallest (in terms of memory and disk space used) tool available. In essence, this is the best tool for mind mapping available.

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    (If you prefer online tools to dealing with local files on your computer you can check out MindMeister. It looks quite impressive too. It provides all the important functionality for mind mapping, and has a lot of additional stuff, like the ability to include attachments, images, PDFs and other files. But it’s not free. The less expensive plan available is $4.99 per month.)

    Next Tasks List, Future/Maybe List, “Waiting for” List

    Your lists, with the Next Tasks List leading the way, are where you spend most of your time when working with GTD. Therefore, they need to be easily accessible and easy to work with. Being able to access them online from every computer and operating system is a nice thing as well.

    This is where Remember The Milk comes into play yet again. I’ve described RTM in detail earlier in this post, so I’m sure you see its value when it comes to working with all kinds of lists.

    An additional benefit of using just one tool for all your lists is that you don’t have to play around with myriads of different login names and local files. The most effective way around is to always focus on a minimum number of tools and fit them into your work habits.

    Calendar

    This is simple, and I’m sure you can see it coming…

    4. Google Calendar

    I don’t think I have to convince you why Google Calendar is great. I’m sure you’ve already signed up for it (or for a similar tool/solution).

    The most important characteristics of a GTD-calendar tool are:

    • Available from any computer (with Internet access)
    • Supports reminders
    • Supports multiple calendars for a single user
    • Supports sharing events with other users
    • Supports ongoing events

    And Google Calendar has them all covered. Also, there are a lot of apps available for every mobile platform.

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    Resource/Reference Files

    The only difficulty with resource files is that they must be pretty well organized, accessible, and preferably available from any computer with Internet access.

    This can be done by implementing two things.

    1. First, create a directory/folder somewhere on your computer’s hard drive. This directory will contain all your resources – things that might come handy as a reference when working on your projects. It’s your job to organize this directory nicely, and make it as easy to grasp as possible.
    2. Next, connect it to Dropbox.

    5. Dropbox

    Dropbox is a tool that lets you synchronize your data between multiple devices you use, but it’s also great for accessing your content online directly through Dropbox’s website.

    All this makes it perfect for acting like a GTD Reference Files base. Not only can you synchronize your files on every machine you use, but you also get an online backup so you can stop worrying about your stuff disappearing overnight after a hard drive malfunction.

    If you’re just using Dropbox to store the most essential data you can go with their free plan (up to 2GB of disk space available, although you can get mire space by inviting others to the service). Later you can easily upgrade your account to “Pro 50”, where you get 50GB for a modest payment of $9.99 per month.

    Conclusion

    As you can see, you only need 5 tools to fully implement GTD into your life. (By the way, “every email software” counts as one.) And this is good because the less tools you use, the easier it is to keep your game together and make them work for you. If you start using too many tools they become a burden instead of an effectiveness and productivity booster.

    What tools do you use as part of your GTD approach? Please share them in the comments below.

    (Photo credit: Dirty Set of Hand Tools via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on October 12, 2018

    11 Tactics on Increasing Brain Power, Memory, and Motivation

    11 Tactics on Increasing Brain Power, Memory, and Motivation

    How do you motivate yourself? We all want to maximize our time and do more of the things we love to do but sometimes we get stuck in the ‘getting ready’ process.

    We want to live every day with a clear intention to get closer to achieving our goals and living a happy, successful life. We want to get better every day but we never actually jump off.

    The most powerful form of motivation comes from self-motivation. You can light your own fire.

    It is not enough simply to wait for inspiration to start you moving forward. It doesn’t have to be something that happens to you, it can be something that you create.

    All progress and motivation starts with taking action. One action will lead to another. Action will create better outcomes and new experiences for you.

    When my coaching clients are suffering from distraction, I simply get them to start taking action. To get fired up. To do something specific.

    This may be getting up earlier, or committing to doing exercise daily. Even if it’s doing something for just 5 minutes, it’s often that little push that it enough to get them going.

    If you focus on a small number of things to create the change you want, it can have a dramatic effect on your business and life.

    Here are 11 things you can do right now to take that jump and in the process of increasing brain power, memory and motivation.

    1. Simplify Your Life

    By creatively planning your life, it allows you to simplify. Delegating and eliminating activities that don’t motivate or excite you ensures you maximise your time and focuses your energy on achieving your goals.

    It’s really hard to stay motivated when your mind is confused and cluttered with all of the projects and tasks you need to do. But if you can simplify, if you can carve away the unnecessary, your life will become more focused. And more focus leads to more motivation.

    What areas of your life could you simplify?

    One way you could do it is to combine tasks. Think about two things you want to do and see how you could combine them into one activity.

    The author Marilyn Vos Savant takes this one stage further in her book Brain Building in Just 12 Weeks. She recommends that we make a list of every small task that has to be done, say, over a day or a week-end and then do them all one after another.

    Essentially, you are fusing lots of smaller tasks together into one task and completing them all together. So rather than doing one task on one day and another task on another day, it becomes a focused blitz to get lots of little things completed all together.

    This frees us more time and gives you a sense of accomplishment, that increases motivation.

    2. Focus on How Far You’ve Come

    One of the things that stops us being motivated and causes procrastination is that we measure our success not from how far we’ve come, but how far away we are from our dreams and ideals.

    If we can change our thinking and become more conscious of how our brain is working, we can set ourselves up for success.

    We’re often at our happiest when we use our brains to problem solve, visualize, achieve and measure our progress.

    If you talk in specifics rather than generalities, there is an opportunity to feel happier and more energized.

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    One way to do this is to start training your brain to measure specifics, which grounds your feelings in reality and can boost motivation.

    Rather than focusing on your ideal, think about what you’ve achieved from a specific starting point.

    If your goal is to lose 14lbs in the next 6 months and you’ve lost 3 lbs in the first 3 months you have two choices. You could focus on the fact that you’re still 11lbs away from your goal or you could focus on the fact that you have lost 3lbs since you’ve started.

    The second option will allow you to celebrate success and build motivation and refocus your mind to lost more weight whilst the first option may focus your mind on how far away you are from your goals.

    Let your brain set your own goals and have your own experiences.

    3. Set Measurable Goals

    This follows on nicely from the previous point. When I work with coaching clients we always set specific, measurable 90 Day Goals.

    This is great for motivation and training the brain to focus only on things that are specific and measurable.

    When we are making real progress towards our goals, it makes us a lot happier. We are motivated and inspired.

    We all sense where we are in the present moment. The past has gone and the future is well, the future.

    In this present moment, we feel like we’re making progress, moving forward in the right direction or we’re not. We can’t stop time. We can only make better use of our time.

    If you’re not happy with the progress you’re making, you may start comparing with others which can make you feel a lot worse and stop motivation in their tracks.

    So, think about what goals you want to achieve for the next 90 Days. Ask yourself what is the meaning/purpose behind each of the goals.

    Write the goals down. Put specific measurements against each goal and visualise what achieving the goals will mean to you in terms of your own personal progress.

    4. Shift Your Motivation from Getting to Giving

    Some people only focus on what they can get out of life and relationships. It’s all about me, me, me.

    “When you change the way you look at things; the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

    However, if you come from a position of serving and helping, and being more consciously awake to the world around you, your mindset can shift from merely receiving to giving.

    And when you create this shift, coming from a space of giving, your brain starts coming up with more and more creative ways to spread more and more abundance.

    It’s far more satisfying to focus on giving. If you really focus on this, it can become a true purpose and focus for you.

    Rather than focusing on simple transactions, you focus on deepening relationships and doing things that will genuinely make people happy.

    If you focus on giving and gratitude and surround yourself with people of a similar mindset your motivational energy will always be high.

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    There are also additional benefits. When givers come together the results can be so much bigger than on an individual level as everything has the capacity to be multiplied.

    When your motivation is to give your brain will think of more and more creative ways to do that. Random thoughts will pop into your head and you’ll find more creative ways to improve other people in both your business and personal life.

    5. Create and Repeat a New Habit

    Sometimes, the smallest shifts create the biggest results. When you start a new habit, whether that’s going to the gym, creating videos or improving your speaking the key is consistency and repetition.

    By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you create incremental improvements.

    If you want to start a new morning routine, the key is repetition. If you want to start meditating, the key is to stay with it. If you’re gearing up to run a 5k, the key is to run every day and build that strength and stamina.

    If you have a vision of yourself as someone who doesn’t complete projects, then you think of yourself as that person. But if you tell yourself every day you’re a world class ‘project completer,’ you’ll begin to think and act like that person.

    If you’re procrastinating on a big project, just start small and do something to move it forward, even if only five minutes. The next day work on that project again.

    The key is deciding what you want to improve and then working on that thing every day. A 1% improvement every day can produce big results in the end.

    Bonus tip: Here’re 18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick!

    6. Direct Your Subconscious Mind Before Sleep

    Many successful people never go to sleep without a request to their subconscious mind.

    “Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious” – Thomas Edison

    Your brain is a fantastic problem solving tool. If there are decisions you are struggling with or a project you’re looking for answers on, just spend a few minutes before you go to sleep visualizing the challenges, ideas, questions and experiences.

    You can follow a similar process with your goals. Visualize your goals every night and visualize what the achievement of those goals will look like.

    Your subconscious mind will then go to work, creating different connections and ideas. When you wake up, write down everything that comes to mind and then put things into action.

    You’ll be surprised how amazing your subconscious mind is: Why Sleeping on a Difficult Problem Helps You Get the Answer

    7. Focus on Your Environment

    The people who you spend time with will change your life in one way or another. Surround yourself with people and things that support you in your business and life.

    Cynics can pull you down with them but supportive people will motivate you to becoming even more happy and successful.

    Throughout every day, we have choices regarding what we spend our time on and who we are going to spend our time with.

    You can be with people who stifle and bring your energy down, or be with people who inspire your creativity and celebrate your success.

    Spend more time with people who make you feel more alive and happier and see where that takes you.

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    8. Express More Gratitude

    When you come from a place of expressing gratitude both to what you have and the people around you, the change can be immense.

    If you express gratitude for what you have, you are less envious and fixated on what other people have.

    When you express gratitude to the important people in your life, it changes how you perceive them and how they feel about you.

    Gratitude increases your energy and your feelings of abundance. With gratitude, everything is appreciated.

    Gratitude also makes you a lot more creative and deepens your motivation. Handwritten notes, more expressive feelings, instantaneous notes or calls to the people that matter most become commonplace.

    The thing about gratitude, though, is that it requires an active pursuit in all areas of your business and life. It’s not about what that person has done for you. It’s about how you feel about them, and their value to you.

    Here’s a quick exercise:

    Think about the people that are most important to you.

    Next, write down 5 things you are grateful for, or appreciate, about that person.

    You could tell them the 5 things or just keep it to yourself and sense how you are with that person the next time you meet.

    Another important focus for gratitude is yourself. What are you grateful for today?

    Taking the time to look inwardly and appreciate what you have built momentum and motivation and makes you a lot happier.

    If you want to learn more ways to practice gratitude, check out these 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

    9. Increase Your Energy

    Energy is a huge motivator. If we are fired up or excited about someone or something, we are usually very motivated.

    Think about the last time you achieved something important. I’m guessing your energy and motivation was high?

    If you’ve beaten your best time on the track, or lost the weight you wanted, or won a big piece of business, your energy will be sky high and you will want to dive back in again to improve your previous performance.

    When we are excited and motivated about the things we are doing, we bring high levels of energy.

    If you could spend more time doing the things that excite and motivate you, what would that mean for your business and life?

    High levels of energy produce continual growth and give you higher levels of confidence.

    Try this:

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    Pick three things that give you high levels of excitement and motivation. Commit to spending at least one more hour on each of the things every month.

    See what you can achieve. If it brings in the results you want, aim to spend more time on those 3 things and remove 3 things you want to spend less time on.

    10. Visualize Your Ideal Future

    If your motivation is lacking, try focusing on the purpose behind what you are doing or on how it plays into the larger goal of what you want to accomplish.

    One great way to increase your brain power and motivation is to start thinking bigger and then challenge yourself to think bigger and bigger about your vision of your ideal future.

    Where would you like to be in 3 years or 5 years’ time? What is your bigger purpose in your business and life? What would have to happen to make you happy with your progress?

    Identifying and then focusing on your bigger vision gives you the feeling of working on something greater and being part of something bigger than yourself. It gives deeper meaning and purpose to your daily life.

    If you are putting long hours into something or making a lot of sacrifices to achieve something it will help put things into perspective and ensure your motivation stays strong.

    Can’t figure out your purpose yet? No problem, here’s How to Find the Purpose of Life and Start Living a Fulfilling Life

    11. Take More Actions

    If you’ve been resisting taking on a big project for a while, be that at home or at work, everything else in your life can begin to suffer.

    Sometimes, you just have to face your resistance and fear and do what you’ve been avoiding. That one thing, could make a real difference to your life.

    We all have lots to do and sometimes it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the tasks at hand.

    The key is to prioritize so we make the best use of our time and make an internal commitment to just get started.

    One of my clients was very close to finishing a new online course but there were some things she was avoiding and procrastinating over. It was very easy for her to fill her time with social media updates, shiny new things and check out the things her competitors were doing to avoid taking action. She knew she was neglecting something really important to her personal goals and putting off things that mattered to her.

    I got her to focus just half an hour at the beginning each day for a week on this project. That amount of time grew as her excitement and motivation increased.

    She felt more excited and motivated by just getting started again and doing the work. This newfound energy also impacted other aspects of her life.

    She felt more in control and knew she would succeed. Just by taking one small step and getting started.

    Conclusion

    Here are some things for you to consider as you reflect upon this article:

    • What’s motivating you right now?
    • Are you as inspired as you want to be?
    • Are you open to new experiences?
    • Are you continually learning new and better ways to live?
    • Are you putting those into practice?
    • Do you want to be more motivated and inspired?

    Hopefully this article has provided some insights and you can use some of these tactics to help you live every day with a clear intention to get closer to achieving your goals.

    Featured photo credit: Pete Bellis via unsplash.com

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