The Best Technique To Get Things Done And Boost Your Productivity

Efficiency is important, whether it’s something interesting and important or something that had to be done anyway. However, there’s no single, once -and-for-all solution, you’ll have to try many methods from which you choose what works best for you. Below is a practical technique to help you get things done:

Getting things done requires following these 5 steps:

#1. You collect ideas and things.
#2. You process what to do about them.
#3. You organize the results.
#4. You review those results.
#5. Now you Do.

The main reason why some people fail and get overwhelmed, is because they overlook one of those steps. Some people collect ideas without sorting through them, others make good decisions, but never take actions on them because they didn’t organize the results, and others set up a good system but don’t review it enough to take action on it.

#1. Collect.

This includes the things you need to get done and the ideas that come to you everyday. To collect these items, you need “containers” which serves as collection tools, here are some examples:
1- Physical in-basket: A tray to collect papers, letters, notes…

2- Paper note-taking tools: A notebook, legal pads, sticky notes…
3- Electronic note-taking tools: Computer, smartphone…
4- Voice-recording devices: Dictating equipment, voicemail…
5- E-mail.

In order to succeed in the collecting stage you must:

1- Get it all out of your head. Keep the collecting tools close by so you can write down any idea or issue on your mind as it comes to you.

2- Have as few collecting tools as you can get by with. It can get overwhelming to have many collecting tools and you’ll find it hard to sort through them later. While this shouldn’t be a problem when it comes to a digital collecting tool, if you’re relying on paper-based collecting tools, you’ll have to minimize their number.

3- Empty them regularly. Even for the things that you can’t do something about it right now, you’ll need to put them into a system that you can review later.

#2. Process.

Sort through the items on your list. Decide they’re actionable or not.

If no action is required then you have three possibilities.

1- It’s trash, you no longer need it.
2- No action needed now, but sometimes later you might need to do something about it
3- The item is information that might be useful later.

If the item is actionable, you have three options.

1- Do it. If it takes less than two minutes, then do it at its defined moment.

2- Delegate it. If it takes more than two minutes, ask yourself if you’re the right person to do it. If the answer is no, then delegate it.

3- Defer it. If it takes more than two minutes and you’re the right person to do it, then defer it until later in a “next action” list.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

#3. Organize.

After processing the items you collected, now organize them into lists.

For nonactionable items, you have three possible categories.

- Trash;
- “Incubating tools” for the items that might need action later;
- “References” for the information that might be needed later.

For actionable items, you’ll need a reviewable set of reminders in the form of lists.

#4. Review.

Everything that might require action, later on, must be reviewed regularly.

A good way to review your organized items is the weekly review method: when reviewing your “system”, you update your lists and get clean, current and complete. It’s the same that you do before going on a vacation, you clean up and close up. Now instead of doing this once a year before your vacation, you do it weekly.

#5. Do.

The purpose of this workflow-management is to ensure that you’re doing the right action at any given moment. You feel more confident which increases your effectiveness.

Now to help you choose the right action at any given moment, here are four criteria you can apply.

1- Context. Some actions require a specific location or a specific tool such as a computer. As you take this into consideration, it will limit your choices of action.

2- Time available. This you consider when you have something else you have to do such as a meeting in five seconds.

3- Energy available. Some actions require creative mental energy, others require physical energy, and some need very little of both.

4- Priority. Given the context, the time available and the energy available, what action should be your priority now?

Following these simple steps will help you get a lot more done with less effort.

The book: Getting Things Done by David Allen

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