A client calls you to ask why he hasn’t received the quote he requested last week. You pause, try to remember and then think “Oh s**t”. You remember opening his letter and throwing it in your in tray so you realize that it must be somewhere under the stack of paper that’s in there.
Sound familiar? We’ve all been in this situation at sometime or other. But in today’s fast moving world, “stuff” (i.e. all the things that come at us such as letter, emails, texts, telephone requests etc.) comes at us so fast that keeping up with it con become a nightmare. How can we handle it? …..
Over the past many years I’ve tried all kinds of ways to manage my work and time from simple to do lists to commercial time management systems. All of them are flawed to some extent because they’re usually too rigid, force you to adapt your work pattern to their defined system, and don’t allow for the fact that the work we do is continually changing. Then I came across the book Getting Things Done by David Allen.
Getting Things Done (GTD) describes a system that will allow you to organize and manage every aspect of your life if you so choose. The beauty of it is that it is a methodology that can be adapted to almost anything and implemented any way you choose. You don’t need to buy special software (although software is available if you want it). You don’t need to buy any special stationery. You can implement the system with a pencil and a few sheets of paper. Myself, I use Evernote and previous to this I used Outlook.
The GTD method rests on the idea of moving planned tasks and projects out of your head by recording them externally (paper or computer) and then breaking them into actionable work items. This allows you to focus your attention on taking action on tasks, instead of on recalling them.
GTD works in the opposite direction to most time management systems which focus on top-down goal-setting . David Allen believes that it is often difficult for individuals to focus on big picture goals if they cannot sufficiently control the day-to-day tasks that they frequently must face. The GTD system allow you to clarify and defines your work day which then frees up mental space to allow you to focus on more strategic issues.
I have been using GTD for about 3 years now and couldn’t be without it. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. All you need to do is buy the book (Getting Things Done: How to Achieve Stress-free Productivity). Even if you decide that GTD is not for you the book has some great advice. You won’t regret it.