5 Principles Of Getting Things Done.
What is the best way to be productive?
This very question has often intrigued me and I’ve googled the search term countless times. In fact a google search of the exact search term churns out about 12, 90, 00,000 results right now. That is a lot of web-pages to go through in a day or even in a life-time.
Depending on whom you ask, the answers you get, will range from using simple pen & paper to yearly planners, page – a day – diaries, sophisticated organizers.
My dad is pretty old school. For him just drawing a circle on a date on wall calendar at home is usually enough.
I am sure you tried or at the very least heard of Hipster PDA, pomodoro technique, GTD, Jerry Seinfeld’s “Don’t Break The Chain method” & tips like turn off email and phone notifications and checking them only once an hour.
Think of all the time you’ve spent on finding that one perfect system that works, when ironically you could have been using the same time to get the work done that you’ve been putting off for a long time.
Does this mean that there is no value in these methods or techniques of productivity? Absolutely not!!! The system does not work because you don’t. No matter what system you follow at the end of the day, it is you who has to take action and get things done.
The biggest hurdle that you have to overcome is YOU.
The key is, to realize that tips and techniques are merely tools to get things done. To get a painting hung on a wall, you could either hammer in a nail or use a nail gun; some might argue that using a drill machine is the best way to go about it. There are multiple ways of achieving the same result, one better than the other.
The problem is, that at times we focus too much on how to do it (Do I hammer a nail in the wall or use a nail gun) rather than focusing on the end result (get the painting hung on the wall). We go so overboard with such advanced productivity tools out there that it’s equivalent to cutting a cake with a samurai sword. Awesome, but inefficient.
The simplest way to get things done is to do it. I am pretty sure this is not what you were expecting but we ignore the most obvious.
So, coming back to the question again, how are you going to get things done?
Common sense tells me that I should be spending more time doing things than planning to do things. I have nothing against digital planners, in fact I use at least a couple of different apps and techniques. I am not going to get into the details now because they are just tools and not the solution to the productivity problem.
- Time is a limited commodity and you can only do so much in 24 hours, only list critical or urgent things that absolutely need to be done. Don’t overwhelm your mind by creating a visual image of a mountain of things to be done. Keep it short, clean and simple.
- Ask for Help: Is this something that you really need to do? Can you have someone get it done for you? Find a way to automate repetitive tasks. Spending some time figuring it out is going to save a lot of time in the long run.
- Focus on quality and not just quantity: While it might feel really great to have 20 things done in a day, focus on quality and not the quantity, some tasks might take longer than others. Responding to an email does not take the same amount of time as finishing a book report. Focus on quality to avoid wasting time on reworking it again.
- Learn to Time Box your task: That presentation that you’ve been working on whole day could have been done in an hour. By setting self imposed deadline you improve focus and it works to increase quality of your work and reduces time needed to do it. Don’t go over-board with it, set realistic time to complete the task, unless you want it work against you instead of for you.
- Learn to say “NO”. Don’t be a jerk, don’t turn down someone who genuinely is in need of your help, but don’t be a people pleaser either. When you know you have a ton of stuff to get through, explain why you cannot help them right away rather than saying yes and compromising the quality. Offer alternatives instead. Don’t agree to timelines that you cannot meet or task that will conflict with the one’s that you are working on right now.
Focus on what’s important. The tools and techniques you use to achieve the results should be the one which suits you the most and the one that helps you achieve maximum efficiency.