These tips from Getting Things Done by David Allen are nuggets of gold.
Getting Things Done by David Allen is one of the most well-known books on productivity in print today. The book is centered around a 5-step time management method, commonly referred to as GTD (Getting Things Done), that people from around the world swear by.
Outside of the 5-step process, David outlines a variety helpful productivity tips that anyone can start using at any time, regardless of how productive or unproductive they feel. Here are our top three favorites!
3 Essential Productivity Tips from Getting Things Done:
1. Use the Two-Minute Rule.
If you determine that an action can be done in two minutes or less, do it right away. “The rationale for the two-minute rule is that it’s more or less the point where it starts taking longer to store and track an item than to deal with it the first time it’s in your hands — in other words, it’s the efficiency cutoff,” David explains.
This rule especially helpful when you’re trying to keep your email inbox empty. David points out, “In an active e-mail environment, it is likely that at least 30 percent of your actionable e-mails will require less than two minutes to respond and dispatch (assuming you have decent keyboard skills). If you’re engaging with your email, holding to this suggestion quite significantly improves responsiveness and productivity in your ecosystem.”
Be careful, though — don’t do every single two-minute task whenever it comes up throughout the day! Set aside a specific time block to perform these tasks or do them when you happen to have unexpected pockets of free time between your bigger projects in the day.
2. Take Lots of Notes.
Ideally, the major habit change David recommends is capturing (taking handwritten, typed, or audio recorded notes) and organizing 100% of every task or project on your mind. It’s a difficult habit to build, but learning how to take more notes is a great start!
Why write things down? David explains, “A big problem is that your mind keeps reminding you of things when you can’t do anything about them. It has no sense of past or future. That means as soon as you tell yourself that you might need to do something, and store it only in your head, there’s a part of you that thinks you should be doing that something all the time… This produces a pervasive stress factor whose source can’t be pinpointed.”
In short, writing things down helps you declutter all the thoughts floating around in your head that cause stress and anxiety.
3. Harness the Power of the Weekly Review.
Whatever system you currently use for task management, reviewing all the items you currently have on your plate is always a good idea. Drawing from his experiences working with thousands of different people, David recommends a weekly review.
A weekly review is as simple as it sounds: At least once a week, step back and check on the status of your projects and pending/upcoming tasks. Is there anything that has been canceled? Is there anything that needs updating? Block off some time on your calendar for this review to make sure your to-do list, calendar, and folders are up-to-date with the most relevant information.
“Most people feel best about their work the week before they go on vacation,” David shares. “But it’s not because of the vacation itself. What do you do the last week before you leave on a big trip? You clean up, close up, clarify, organize, and renegotiate all your agreements with yourself and others. You do this so you can be present on the beach, on the golf course, or on the slopes, with nothing else on your mind. I suggest you do this weekly instead of yearly, so you can bring this kind of ‘being present’ to your everyday life.”
Whether you’re a practicing GTD believer or someone who simply wants to optimize their productivity, these tips from Getting Things Done can be applied right away!
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This post was written by Elizabeth Lee, the marketing associate at BookPal. She is currently reading The Organized Mind by Daniel J. Levitin and The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss.