Advertising

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

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


    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!

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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)

    Advertising

    More by this author

    Ciara Conlon

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

    10 Green Tea Benefits and the Best Way to Drink It 7 Wise Ways to Find Focus and Get Things Done 15 Quick and Healthy Snacks to Help You Stick to Your Diet How Mindfulness for Productivity Can Improve Your Focus This Is Why Taking Action Creates Success

    Trending in Productivity

    1 5 Values of an Effective Leader 2 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 3 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work) 4 30 Practical Ideas to Create Your Best Morning Routine 5 Is People Management the Right Career Path for You?

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
    Advertising

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

    Advertising

    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

    Advertising

    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

    Advertising

    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

    Advertising

    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Advertising

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

    Read Next