The Life Changing Magic of Getting Things Done
How to end procrastination and take the first step towards becoming a productivity barracuda
“I am such a procrastinator”
“How does Jess get so much done?”
“I’m struggling to meet my goals.”
“I get so distracted. Maybe I have ADHD or something!”
If you’ve heard yourself saying or thinking these phrases, then read on. The skill of being productive is exactly that: a skill. No one is born with it. Everyone has to learn the skill and strengthen the muscle by flexing it.
There’s lots of ways to be productive, but one tool stands out, head and shoulders above the others and that is Getting Things Done, named after the book by David Allen.
If you google “Getting Things Done” you’ll get a lot of variations of GTD, but here I will be teaching you a very simple, starter-pack version of the system.
GTD, boiled down, has three simple steps:
- The 2-Minute Rule — If a task takes 2 minutes, do it right away
- Calendaring — If you know how much time a task will take, add it to your calendar
- Single Source of Truth —If you don’t know how much time a task will take, add it to your single source of truth.
So you got a task. Either in an email, a slack message, in person, via text… somehow someone asked you to do something and you complied. You want complete this task — or you have to!
The Two Minute Rule — If that task would only take 2 minutes to complete, just do it. If little tasks hang around, they pile up, are easy to forget, and in general are just annoying. Just do them and wipe them off your slate.
Calendaring — So what if a task will take more than 2 minutes? In this case there are two options: you either know how long the task will take, or you don’t. If you DO know, put when you will do it on your calendar (preferably before the task’s deadline!). Now you can forget about it until your calendar directs you to complete the task. Phew.
Single Source of Truth — Now you’ve got those tasks that you don’t know how long they will take. What do you do with those? These you add to your single source of truth. Your SST is a master todo list where you put all your todos. The trick here is not to have multiple todo lists, otherwise even a brainiac will quickly get confused and start loosing things. Whenever you don’t have anything to do on your calendar, open up your SST, prioritize it, and start at the top.
How To Get Started with GTD
First, setup your calendar. The steps for that are:
- That means picking a primary gmail account and making that your home base for calendaring and event scheduling.
- Use this little video to setup your calendar for SUCCESS.
- Next, add all your already scheduled meetings and events to your calendar. E.g. classes, meetings, job shifts, work outs, church, and planned social events.
- Now make a list of all your tasks, and add the ones to your calendar where you know how long
- Now pick your Single Source of Truth. If you have a Mac and an iPhone, just use the Apple Notes app. If you are more in the windows or Android ecosystem, try Google Keep.
Give GTD a try.