Monday, August 4, 2008

getting things done

I'm not sure how many of you have heard of David Allen's book Getting Things Done, but my podmate turned me on to GTD (i swear he gave me a link but I can't find it right now, stay tuned)...and the book looms in my mind as if it were the Holy Grail. Lately (per my previous post), I've been struggling with procrastination; it's a bitch. What the F*** do you do? And can you even put your finger on why you're procrastinating OR what procrastination exactly means? I think Type A personalities struggle with "whatever procrastination is" moreso than Type Bs. This link takes you to a Wikipedia page clearly written by a Type B persona (Type As aren't complete tightwads!) which illustrates the Type A personality traits that I struggle most with: multi-tasking takes an ineffective turn where focusing becomes random instant-gratification seeking; time-conscientiousness becomes debilitating to creativity; and stress hinders any sense of productivity. Ugh.

So back to GTD: I checked out the book on Amazon, and I'm posting highlights from a comment I feel is the most motivating (and perhaps directional, in fact negating the purchase of the book altogether). Here they are:

This book is for all those who are overwhelmed with too many things to do, too little time to do them, and a general sense of unease that something important is being missed. (THAT'S ME!)

Every task, promise, or assignment has a place and a time. Rapid progress occurs when you take large, unformed tasks, and break them down and organize them into smaller, sequential steps for exactly what to do and when.

The essence of the process is that you write down a note about everything when you take on a new responsibility, make a new commitment, or have a useful thought. All of this ends up in some kind of "in" box. You then go through your "in" box and decide what needs to be done next for each item. For simple issues, this includes identifying the action you should take first and when to take it. For tougher issues, you schedule an appropriate time to work the problem in more detail.

For the tougher problems, you start with identifying your purpose and principles so you know why you care how it all turns out. Then you imagine the potential good outcomes that you would like. Following that, you brainstorm with others the best way to get those outcomes. Then you organize the best pathway. (WHO DOESN'T LIKE BRAINSTORMS?)

The critical part is the discipline because that is what focuses your attention where it will do the most good. Many people allow a lot of time to pass without taking any useful steps because they cannot imagine what to do next. If you simplify the questions and make them into familiar ones, everyone soon finds powerful alternatives drawn from a lifetime of experiences and memories. Keep things broad, abstract, and vague, and peoples' eyes glaze over while they struggle for a place to begin. (I THINK THIS PARTICULARLY APPLIES TO PLANNING: WE'VE GOT TO BE ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS AND WE NEED TO ARTICULATE AND SIMPLIFY)

THIS IS A DIRECT QUOTE FROM THE COMMENTER: "By helping [other people] gain relaxed control of their activities, you will also be able to enjoy the benefits of their increased effectiveness in supporting your own efforts.May you always get the tools you need, understand what to do next, and move swiftly through timely actions!" SOUNDS NICE. :)

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