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Yet Another Getting Things Done Article (with 11 Useful How to Tips)

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Yet Another Getting Things Done Article (with 11 Useful How to Tips)


    If you are a regular reader of Lifehack, I bet there have been times when you have had this reaction:

    “Oh no not another Getting Things Done article.”

    But I also bet you read them anyhow.

    Why is that? Maybe it is because our lives revolve around getting things done. From the moment you wake in the morning to the time you close your eyes at night, you spend the day fulfilling responsibilities, completing tasks and working towards goals both big and small.

    For some this revolves around home life, cooking, cleaning and looking after children. For others it’s buying and sell stock or painting magnificent paintings. Regardless of the type of work you do, it is usually go…go…go!

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    There is a body of people out there that believe we should toss productivity out and live life more in the flow. Some believe that we cannot control life’s outcomes and we shouldn’t even begin to try. Although there is some merit in not trying to control and over engineer a life that could be fluid and carefree, but at Lifehack we believe in productivity. We believe in its merits and its potential. We believe that there are ways and means of managing your daily and weekly workload that will help you to get “it” done more quickly, reducing your stress and allowing you to do what it is you do when you are not in work mode.

    Learning

    When we read an article it is usually to gain more knowledge about the subject area — to see if there is anything we can learn that will enhance and improve our lives. So if you find you are reading article after article on getting things done, I will pose to you the following question: How much of what you have learned have you implemented?

    Be honest now — do you have a successful workflow system set up? If your answer is “yes” then you are excused to go back and get some stuff done. If your answer is “no”…well, then you are also excused to go implement some of the stuff you have learned to date and start getting things done.

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    Doing

    There appears to be a huge gap between knowing and doing. How much longer will you wait to get started? How many countless books do you read before you heed their lessons? Are you subconsciously hoping that the changes will happen in your life without your input?

    I urge you again to stop reading and start doing. Because productivity systems are nothing without action. Ideas without action amount to nothing.

    So if you are still hanging around and haven’t gone to take action, here are a few suggestions to get you started and create a little bit of momentum.

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    1. Revisit your goals for inspiration to act (if you don’t have any, create some today!).
    2. Commit to doing 10 minutes of something a day, create new positive and productive habits to help you on your way.
    3. Block process emails, a maximum of three times a day.
    4. Start the day with your worst task first (“eat your frog”); the rest of the day will be sweeter.
    5. Get up an hour earlier and exercise; this will give you more energy.
    6. Declutter your environment. A clean desk allows you to focus more easily.
    7. Be clear about what you want to achieve every day.
    8. Always leave time in your schedule for contingency; this way you won’t be disappointed if things don’t go to plan.
    9. Eliminate distractions, close email programs, switch off email notifications. In fact, switch off the phone when you are trying to get important work done.
    10. Implement the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) and identify your 20% that adds value to what you are trying to achieve.
    11. Smile and be optimistic about life. Optimistic people are healthier, happier and more productive.

    It is time to stop learning and start doing. Ask yourself what one thing could you do this week to get you closer to your personal success. What one thing have you been procrastinating on that will have a major impact when complete? It’s time to take action, my friends.

    It’s time to finally get things done!

    (Photo credit: Handwritten Motivational Note via Shutterstock)

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    More by this author

    Ciara Conlon

    Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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    Last Updated on October 21, 2021

    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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    More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

     

    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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