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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 October 16, 2019

    Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

    Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

    Do you like making mistakes?

    I certainly don’t.

    Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

    Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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    Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

    Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

    • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
    • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
    • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
    • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

    We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

    If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

    Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

    Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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    When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

    Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

    We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

    It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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    Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

    Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

    Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

    1. Point us to something we did not know.
    2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
    3. Deepen our knowledge.
    4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
    5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
    6. Inform us more about our values.
    7. Teach us more about others.
    8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
    9. Show us when someone else has changed.
    10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
    11. Remind us of our humanity.
    12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
    13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
    14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
    15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
    16. Invite us to better choices.
    17. Can teach us how to experiment.
    18. Can reveal a new insight.
    19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
    20. Can serve as a warning.
    21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
    22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
    23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
    24. Remind us how we are like others.
    25. Make us more humble.
    26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
    27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
    28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
    29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
    30. Expose our true feelings.
    31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
    32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
    33. Point us in a more creative direction.
    34. Show us when we are not listening.
    35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
    36. Can create distance with someone else.
    37. Slow us down when we need to.
    38. Can hasten change.
    39. Reveal our blind spots.
    40. Are the invisible made visible.

    Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

    The secret to handling mistakes is to:

    • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
    • Have an experimental mindset.
    • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

    When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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    When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

    It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

    When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

    Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

    Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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    Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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