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Why Are You Getting Things Done?

Why Are You Getting Things Done?

    Why are you collecting potential actions day-in and day-out in your collection tool of choice? Why are you processing the things you have collected and identifying potential outcomes of the stuff that has just come into your life? Why are you reviewing these things as much as you need to keep them active in your life? Why are you getting things done?

    Sounds like a funny question, especially for a topic on Lifehack, whose sole purpose is to show you how to get things done faster and better. But, the question remains.

    What is the point of these systems and getting all this stuff done?

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    The End Game

    GTD prides itself with using a bottom up approach to productivity rather than the “traditional” top down approach like Covey and other life-coach type of gurus have tried to teach us. The idea is that by using this bottom-up approach, that is, capturing all of the potentially meaningful stuff in your life, identifying what it is, and either doing it or not, you will be using the best way to clear the decks and eventually find your life purpose. Your end game.

    Being productive isn’t the end game. Being productive is the way to reach the end game. David Allen talks about the various Areas of Focus in our lives; the things that drive us as a human being. These can be:

    • Family
    • Spirituality
    • Career
    • Mental health
    • Vitality
    • Hobbies

    These areas are the “why” behind getting things done and the reason that you need to be productive. We shouldn’t be getting things done for getting things done sake.

    The paradox

    So, how do you find your why? How do you get up close and personal with your end game. By getting things done.

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    OK, now we are drifting down to “na-na-nu-nu” land. You may be thinking, “you just told me that we need some sort of purpose to get things done. Thanks for nothing.”

    The only way to find your purpose in life (your end game) is to clear your deck. There is no way (at least not one I have found) that you can experience the awakening of your goals and dreams when you are stressing about over 500 unprocessed emails in 3 different accounts (sounds familiar), have overdue tax bills, and have family members that need your attention because of your lack of attention. We must be able to give ourselves some breathing room.

    We do this by collecting and processing these not done stuffs and put them into a trusted system. Once there, we can either commit or “uncommmit” to these tasks and outcomes. That alone is a totally freeing process: taking all of the junk in our lives, answering the question “what is this junk?”, and then purging or doing it now or a little later.

    With this process under our belts, we slowly clear our mind and our workload allowing us to finally find our “why”.

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    Why you can’t find “why” right now

    If you have an insane life of too much to do, and not enough time to do it in, then you will have a very hard time finding your end game and what’s important to you. You have to unbury yourself from crap work and tasks to get some breathing room to find your purpose.

    The process is the thing

    So, why are you getting things done?

    Maybe you have identified that you have a family that needs taken care of. That family needs money to buy stuff. The job that you have (maybe even one you don’t necessarily like) is the way that you make money so they can buy that stuff. So, when you are doing the mundane “readying the TPS reports”, you can link this small task or project on your list to the “why” of being an awesome family man/woman.

    Your end game is easier to reach when you get the mundane in a system and the mundane is easier to do when you link it to your end game. You only got here because of the process of collecting and processing into a trusted system.

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    Elevating the process of GTD

    It’s time to get away from too many process and tools and tweaks. The process of GTD was made to be done with paper or digital tools. It’s tool agnostic for good reason.

    There isn’t too much wrong with tweaking and fiddling with your tools as long as that tweaking and fiddling is to help you accomplish your end game with less resistance, not for the sake of fiddling.

    So, when agreeing to a project or taking time out of your day to do one of those little tasks on your lists, remember and be conscious of why you are getting things done. This is the only way to make sure that you are getting the right things done and that the you have the right things to do to reach your end game.

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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