Getting things done in a timely manner has never been one of my strong suits (as I currently type this blog a couple hours before it is due). The problem is not that I am not an organized person, but that I have so many things going on at once that it is hard to decide what to do first. This is where the Getting Things Done, GTD, philosophy can help me. David Allen is a productivity consultant and the author of the book “Getting Things Done.” He is the one that started the GTD movement, and in the video below, he does an interview with Lifehacker about hacking your to-do list.
In this video, he talks about the Five Pillars of GTD. Those pillars are:
Write it Down: This does not necessarily mean to physically write things down on a piece of paper, but to make a viewable list somewhere that contains all of your to-dos, ideas, tasks, and everything else. You want to do this with everything you think of as soon as you think of it. If you write it down or type it out somewhere, you can get it out of your head, clearing up your thoughts.
Clarify: After you get everything out of your head, go back and clarify all of your lists. Plan out what you need to do in order to complete the task. Everything should have an action and a conclusion. It is important to properly clarify your list so that it does not take you more time to decrypt what you meant than it does to do the actual task.
Park the Results/Organize: This is where you organize the list so that you get things done when they need to be. If there is a due date for an item, make note of that. If it is just a high priority item without a date attached, make note of that too.
Review: Go through your list again. Check and see if you can do any steps right now for any of the items. If something seems too big, break it down into more steps. You should repeat this step occasionally to track your progress and make sure your list is still as efficient as it can be.
Engage: Now it is time to get to work. Pick an item and run with it. Your to-dos should now be broken down into chunks that make it easier to track progress and get things done.
This idea of emptying our minds is based on the idea that our brain is not made for storage, but for creating. Our mind is more like ram than a hard drive, if you will. In the video below, this is explained further.
Getting things done is important, and I am hoping to implement some of these ideas into my life as I go through my final semester.