How many tasks have you got floating around in your head right now? Call mum, research essay, pay bill, find job… not to mention the 50-60 other things. It’s paralysing!
This sort of thing used to give me “freak out” moments. My wife Emma says I was just “overwhelmed”… but she’s lying. They were genuine freak outs. Can’t-think, can’t-eat, feel-sick kind of freak outs. The real juicy ones.
Then I discovered David Allen and his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. I read it back in 2009 and it totally transformed my personal management. I’m still not perfect, but the “freak outs” have pretty much gone.
These days I use software called Things to implement David Allen’s GTD methodology. I won’t go into detail about it now, but the 1st step of the process is to conduct a brain dump.
In other words, gather all the things flying around in your head and write them down. Everything that’s bothering you. The stuff you’ve been putting off. Even the stuff that doesn’t make sense. Get it out and put it on paper.
Now go through your list and take one of the following actions:
- Do It- If it takes less than two minutes, do it now. You could schedule it for later, but it might take you a minute just to do that. Save yourself the hassle and do it now.
- Defer It- if it takes more than two minutes, and you’re the right person for the job, defer it. Put it on a list of next actions, or whack it in the calendar to be completed at a more convenient time.
- Delegate It- sometimes it’s just not your responsibility. Or better yet, someone else would enjoy doing that much more than you would! If it needs to get done, but it’s not your job, delegate it to someone else.
- Delete It- some stuff just doesn’t matter. So you missed a call form a random number? If it’s that important they’ll call you back. Delete the task and give your brain the space to focus on the important stuff.
I go through this process once a week in a weekly review. I’ll say it again, I’m far from perfect, but this simple checklist has saved me a stack of time and genuinely helps me to get things done.
Question: Do you ever have freak out moments? What system do you use to help you get things done? Leave a comment by clicking here.