Productivity – effectiveness – Getting Things Done

Following my own advice, I am going to work more systematically to be a more effective research, where being effective is defined, for now, as *doing the right thing* not doing things right (after Drucker) and the steps to being more effective are framed within the Getting Things Done process. So, I started by buying the book

but while I wait for it to arrive, I am going to use the advice that’s available for free online.

Two things are worth noting: 1. I am smart and work hard but I don’t get everything done that would help (the right thing) me with my aims (work on interesting things with interesting people); 2. there is a ton of stuff online about Getting Things Done (GTD) because – I would say – a lot of people worry about being effective and many people have been helped by the GTD approach.

Dump concerns out of your head and somewhere trustworthy

The idea is that you examine closely the things that concern you, that you need to action, and collect them so that you can stop worrying and do something about them.

I started by writing down absolutely everything I could think of that’s on my mind to do, see here:

Get everything out on paper or a google doc. (I don’t want to put stuff on paper anymore see the #paperless post to come.)

The next step is about converting the things you need to do into actions

What you must then decide is whether you can do these things or not, and if not whether you are to delete the things from your list or defer them.

As Merlin Mann puts it:

“A more reasonable approach using GTD would be to focus just on that next physical activity needed to undertake each project; even if it seems like a trivial activity.”

Advice here:

“Outcomes & Actions
1. describe in a single sentence the intended successful outcome for the problem or situation
2. write down the very next physical action required to move the situation forward”

If the item requires more than one action, it is a project in GTD parlance.

If the item can be tied to a single concrete action, a thing you can physically do, then *that* is a next action.

The mindzone wiki offers simple advice – sort your TODO list items by what they mean and what you can do about them (I reproduce their list here for my own ease of access), for every item:

1. what is it?

2. is it actionable, YES or NO?

3. If NO then…

3.i. bin it
3.ii. list it as something you will do tomorrow, a following day in the month or a following month – the GTD way is to have a separate folder for each of these deferred (incubate it) categories, but I am using google docs because, as noted, I want to go paperless
3.iii. reference [N.B. not sure what this means]

4. If YES then…

4.i. What is the next action?
– do it, delegate it or defer it
– make it a project if it requires more than one step to accomplish the desired outcome

4.ii. track actions on a list of projects, along with materials that will be required, use a calendar for day or time specific actions, have a list of reminders for next actions, and things you are waiting for

What will you do on any one day?

Merlin Mann again: “I often have a theme for a given day, where I choose an approach that’s suited to my mood, my energy level, and the kind and amount of work on my TODO list.”

See also a collection of links here

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