We all have plans and goals and 24 hours in equal measure.
While some people master the art of productivity with ease, the rest are left wondering where the time has gone.
The reason things don’t get done for the latter groups is not lack of time. The reason is because they haven’t decided yet what “doing” looks like. And they haven’t decided yet where and how the “doing” needs to occur.
Clarifying the process in a workflow is a big step in the direction of getting things done.
Author David Allen shares a 5-step process for a stress-free workflow in his book, Getting Things Done:
1. Capture All The Loose Ends
Your mind, according to Allen is for having ideas and not for holding them. The essential first step in becoming more productive is to collect all the information. What do you have on your mind? Write down all the unfinished projects and tasks – professional and personal.
Use a pen and paper or a program using an electronic device. The purpose of this step is to fully empty your brain of all ‘loose-end’ or things you have to get done.
2. Clarify The Nature Of Each Item
Each item that you have captured represents a task or a project. Planning a birthday party for your partner is a project. Buy milk is a task. Separate each item into tasks and projects. Understand the nature of what you are trying to accomplish.
Clarify what needs to be done. Writing ‘Sophie’ on your calendar is unclear and vague. Call Sophie to wish her a great start at the new job is specific. And if this task takes less than two minutes, do it now. If a task can be accomplished in a couple of minutes, finish it rather than capturing it for later.
The same principle applies to your email inbox. Each email that you receive represents a task or a project. Use the next step to sort through your email inbox as well.
3. Organize Your To-Dos
In his book, Allen recommends having an in-tray to collect all your projects and then sort them out as follows:
- Next Action List: These are the urgent and important tasks that need your immediate attention.
- Reference: Some information is necessary for filing away for future referencing.
- Someday/Maybe: Project ideas or tasks that are desirable but best saved for a later date.
- Delete/Trash: When a task/project is completed, remove it from your filing system.
4. Do The Work
Pick up the next item on the ‘Next Actions List’ and swing into action.
Decide to do it now, delegate it or defer to a later date (with a specific time/day marked on your calendar). But each action item you pick up from your in-tray needs to be addressed.
5. Review The System
You may want to review the system and tweak it to suit your work-style. It is important to set aside a time every week to sort through your unfinished action items. Go through the other lists and apply step 3 to each item.
Following a systematic approach reduces cognitive overload and feelings of overwhelm. A simple system like ‘Getting Things Done’ will help you stay on top of your professional and personal life. Without stress.
Sheevaun Moran is a business advisor, master coach, quantum energy thought leader and the founder of Energetic Solutions. She uses business principles with energetic techniques to help more than 25,000 entrepreneurs, CEOs and leaders bring instant focus and shifts to clarity, purpose, and profits.
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