Getting Things Done
"Getting Things Done," a book written by David Allen, emphasizes that people cannot focus on bigger goals unless they are able to accomplish their tasks on a day-to-day basis. He proposes development of a system that defines and clarifies a regular day, inclusive of work and personal time, to help reduce clutter in the mind and focus on larger things. The ideal situation is where a person has created enough space to make his mind as clear as 'water.' This will help develop perspectives on the following 'six horizons of focus.'
1. Current projects.
2. Current actions.
3. Responsibility areas.
4. Short-term goals between 1 to 3 years.
5. Long-term goals between 3 to 5 years.
6. Life goals beyond 5 years.
Allen suggests a weekly review of the various levels, and reworking priorities or framing them based on perspectives obtained from such reviews. This will lead to happiness and balance in life where goals are achievable in real time, and the mind is set free to pursue things that are of interest to an individual. The essence of "Getting Things Done" is to record goals and tasks out of the mind in an external mode, say a diary, and subsequently breaking them into time management segments. This allows focusing action on tasks instead of having the mind recall them at intervals to assess and rework strategies on achieving them.
“A man who can't bear to share his habits is a man who needs to quit them.”
― Stephen King, The Dark Tower
Create Daily and Weekly Routines
While the above proposal sounds ideal where you are virtually ready for anything, it can indeed get chaotic at times. To avoid this from happening, a good way is to create daily and weekly routines. These routines will help you at being more productive, like Allen suggests in his book, and will help you to accomplish more and live an easier life in happiness and harmony. It will give your day, week, month, and year a calmer and orderly feeling. It will also make your workday and personal time simpler, since your day will no longer be complicated and chaotic because you have already planned out everything well in advance.
You can start this by grouping tasks of a similar nature together and processing them in batches. This way, you are going to be sure about doing things that you absolutely need to do. You are then able to control your day better instead of being at the mercy of a chaotic schedule. If you have a routine in place, you can always start refusing situations that are unwarranted and undesirable. For instance, your set daily routine may not allow a friend to walk in to your office for a chat over a cup of tea. Instead, if you are able to set a time aside for your friends, say in the evening, then you neither interfere with your schedule nor would you neglect valued relationships.
“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”
― Samuel Johnson
Establish Control Over The Way You Live
You need to establish control over the way you live, set some life habits and routines, and try your level best to follow them.
1. Tasks that are related to your work.
You need to list down things that need to be completed in your workday. This can extend to weekly and annual reviews on your progress of accomplishing these tasks. These can be as minor as checking your inbox and deleting unnecessary mails, or as important as preparing for the annual conference a few months down the line with a time set aside each day for making your presentation.
2. Tasks that are of personal nature.
Just like your workday tasks and goals, you can start planning your personal time in a similar way. These may include life habits like yoga, exercise, meditation, doing chores, reading etc. The time you set aside for doing these activities need to be incorporated into your daily routine so that that time is not interfered with by any other activity. Just like you check your mails as soon as you get into the office, you can start your day with meditation followed by yoga and subsequently other activities.
3. Start processing in batches.
Similar to what David Allen has suggested in his book, write down your daily tasks on a piece of paper or feed them into your computer. Once you have done that and rid your mind of the clutter, you can focus on to larger things or things that have always interested you but you never had the time. The smaller or significant jobs that you have listed down can be processed together. Say if you need to go to the bank, visit a dealer, meet a client, and then proceed for a lunch appointment, and all these activities fall on the same route, you can think of doing all these together one after the other. Similarly, at home if you have to mow the lawn on Sundays, take your dog out for a walk, go to the grocery store for your weekly purchases, you can also batch process these tasks together.
4. Make daily, weekly, and annual lists.
Once you know what are the daily, monthly and annual tasks, more than half the job is already done. You simply now need to browse your list to see jobs that need to be done, and start doing them. The most important part is to practice sticking to the list. It may be difficult during the initial stages, but try your level best to stick to your scheduled tasks.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
― Jim Ryun
You are going to see a world of difference once you have incorporated and established these life habits. You will find yourself more productive, will be accomplishing more, and will live an easier life in happiness with a healthier body and mind. Remember that having a weekly or daily schedule is never monotonous or repetitive. You mind and body are going to respond proactively to give more clarity to your thoughts, you will start feeling more energetic, and over time will develop a feeling of well-being. Always remember that top athletes in the world are successful because they follow strict daily schedules, as do successful businessmen, politicians, musicians, and nearly everyone else with success set in their mind.
“Good habits are worth being fanatical about.”
― John Irving