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29th June 2019 | Michał Łuczyński | Test Coordinator

1 man, 1000 tasks and 24 hours - is it possible to control the organizational chaos of everyday life?

Comparing the brain to the computer opens many associations - certainly the most popular is the memory overload and the slowdown of action, which both human and electronic control unit sometimes experience. It’s no wonder that, for years, methods have been created to tame everyday multitasking - one of them is David Allen's GTD.

GTD stands for Getting Things Done

I can already see many of you say "I wish it was that simple!”. Meanwhile, the modest American has been trying to explain for several decades, that this is how it is. In his book1 (an international bestseller) and lectures, he shows that instead of maniacally sticking to the hourly plan and stuffing the memory with "simple to do things", it is better to simply write down and systematize everything. According to Allen's theory, this allows the brain to be free from the constant "remembering", which should increase its efficiency. The method itself helps us to deal with what we have to do faster but, at the same time, be effective and happy to do what we want.

First of all - capture it!

Everything: tasks, plans, projects, thoughts. All of this stream of affairs which is flowing through your consciousness can be translated into action. Write it down in an easily accessible place - app, calendar, Excel sheet.

One entry - one action

Allen claims that we often confuse the action (which can be planned) from the project (which should be broken down into a series of activities). For example: a weekend trip to Copenhagen would consist of booking tickets, preparing luggage, booking a hotel, preparing a trip plan. Quite a list!

Analyse

It's actually where we start working with GTD. When we have the whole "chaos" visible in the form of a list, we should take the time to analyse all the recorded matter and activities. Prioritise them correctly. Somethings must be done today, tomorrow, in a week ... Create a separate space for projects and things which can be done when the opportunity arises. These can be separate tabs, various binders, notebooks – it is good to save them in something which you come back to everyday so that you have it to hand. Do not assign an exact time schedule. This does not make too much sense - sometimes one phone call can change your entire schedule for the day. Apply the 2-minute rule - if the task can be completed within 2 minutes, do it right away.

Order, consider your notes

Take time to review and analyse your notes daily, update them, change the priorities and add tasks that make up larger projects. The contents of the lists must reflect the reality.

And now all you have to do is do it

The final result of working with GTD is a segregated list of tasks that you can just take without much thought, believing that the previously recognized ones will fit together.

All this seems very simple, but as always it is the little things that make the difference. When introducing GTD into your life, you need to build your own version of the method in order to use it efficiently. This requires some experimentation, for example, when choosing an application or a calendar that is always with you.

Let us not kid ourselves, without rational estimation and regularity, GTD will not bring results. Daily task analysis is the necessity for the conscious and direct determination of the goals within a given day or in the wider perspective. It is worth combining other "lifehacks", such as training to reduce procrastination, or "5 am routine" to create sufficient time in the day, so that we can consciously consider the priorities of the coming hours. To present all your tasks clearly and in the right order you can try the Kanban table as well. Treat GTD as a framework, fill it in with other methods that you are familiar with or that suits your daily needs. 

If we want to use GTD in a company or home, we need to create a clear set of rules for the other GTD users, so that the jointly updated lists have the same sense and the right level of transparency.

And finally, let’s be honest: GTD does not have to be for you

Or it makes no sense to immediately make GTD a universal solution to organize your entire life. I know people who, for example, use GTD to organize only their inbox, or tasks in Jira systems, or to manage the plan of a large family gathering. Scaling, customizing and experimenting is the key to optimizing the effects of GTD. 

I refer all interested persons to the book by David Allen, which is re-published every few years in various languages. It is also a good idea to search for accompanying issues on the Internet, here, for example, you can find a list of useful applications that support GTD.

Now get things done!

References

1 Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, David Allen

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