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5 Tips for Getting Things Done When There Is Too Much To Do
It has been my experience that when you start working with the Getting Things Done method, or any new execution system, it becomes overwhelming how much you need to do. I have 5 suggestions to break though the challenge and get things done.
- Do the obvious priorities.
If your list contains some obvious priorities tackle them first so they are not waiting for you to get back to them—you don't want a task like "Fill my sons prescription" to get lost in the mix of your other tasks. There will be some obvious priorities in any task list that can be done quickly to completions.
- Do Something!
One of the biggest challenges that you will face when confronted with a large task list is "analysis paralysis." If you stop all other action to review your list you're not doing the important work that needs to get done. As a short terms solution JUST DO SOMETHING! Taking action is about velocity, if you get movement in the right direction you will see your list become shorter with each action and create clarity about your next action. If you wait to identify the perfect next step you will spend a lot of time waiting.
- Break down the BIG stuff.
If you task list contains things like "Send a manned mission to Mars" they task is too big to accomplish. Don't fool yourself into thinking you can accomplish this task because there are likely a million small tasks that this is burying. You need to break the Mars mission down into task like "Take Rocket Science 101", "Get Rocket Fuel", "Hire a brilliant staff!" etc. Once the big stuff is in reasonable pieces it's less overwhelming and supports accomplishment.
- Get Advice.
If nothing jumps out as a priority and you have already broken down the tasks ask for advice regarding what is most important. A boss, a colleague, a customer, a stranger, a bartender, or really anybody could all help add some clarity to your task list. This is especially useful if you have a couple of people you have commitments to because they will usually be able to tell you their top priority, which will usually become your top priority. Even if you get bad advice and do the opposite the advice will at least give you some perspective and insight to improve your own decision making.
- Remember the tasks were always there, you have added clarity.
Make this your mantra. When you start a new execution system you are bringing order to chaos and often getting the first real view of your commitments. You have always been busy; you just didn't know how busy you were. Seeing everything in one place finally gives you some hope of ensuring you are getting the right things done rather than just wasted action.