It is important in business to deliver whatever is promised on time.
However, the urgency attached to deadlines can become overwhelming due to all the multi-tasking, conflicting priorities or task / time juggling that we all have to do!
However, from the viewpoint of a client or employer, saying, “I didn’t have enough time is a sure sign of poor time management skills or incompetency.”
The inconvenient truth is that missing a deadline is unprofessional and excuses are no longer welcome in today’s fast-paced workplace.
Investing in the latest time management gadgets or apps may not help unless you understand the underlying time management techniques.
Traditional time management systems do not always help because they focus on your priorities, thereby cluttering up your calendar and leaving you with a sense of confusion, half-done tasks, missed deadlines or stress.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity By David Allen
That is why I’m recommending a time management system designed to declutter your mind and your calendar as well as assist you with the most trivial or complex tasks: The Getting Things Done® (GTD®) time management system by David Allen.
After a 1983 productivity seminar at Lockheed, David Allen introduced a popular time management system known as Getting Things Done® (GTD®).
In (GTD®) you get your tasks out of your mind and record them somewhere else. According to David Allen, this frees up your mind to concentrate on performing the task at hand as opposed to attempting to remember every step that needs to get done.
The Getting Things Done® system is a common sense, step-by-step approach designed to help you manage your commitments, information and communication.
What is the difference between David Allen’s time management system and others?
- Perspective – In GTD®, your focus is to get the proper perspective.
- Control – By organizing and decluttering your thoughts, GTD® helps you gain control of your time.
The result is a work-Flow system that makes time management simple and fun.
David Allen’s GTD system is a step-by-step flow of what happens next. It flows like this:
- In – What Is It – Is it Actionable (Trash, someday, references)
- What Is The Next Action (Project – Project Plan – Review)
- Do It – Delegate It (In Communication System and Track It On – Waiting)
- Defer It (For Me To Do (Specific Time of Day/Calendar)
- For Me To Do (Next Action Process)?
It also presents five levels of solutions:
- Gather Information / Get It Out of Your Head
- Process Information
- Get Organized
- Use It
Allen suggests that you review each step weekly so you can plan better, think in advance and come up with a series of solutions ahead of time.
When the GTD® plan is implemented, no deep thought is required. If you implement GTD®, you would find it easy to store, track or retrieve all of the necessary information you need for project.
Here is a run-through the GTD® System:
Step One: Gather Information / Get It Out of Your Head
Start by emptying your head or freeing up your thoughts so your mind is not cluttered with a scattered to-do list of thoughts.
Make a list of everything that needs to get done regardless of whether it is an immediate need or a long-term goal.
Once your mind is clear, gather more information from your calendar, daytimer, email inbox or physical storage inbox.
Transfer all the thoughts that fill up your head onto a tangible piece of paper in the form of one concise list.
Step Two: Process
After gathering all the information on what needs to get done or you clearing up your head, begin to process all the information.
Look at each of the items you wrote down and ask yourself this: “What action do I need to take on this?”
Do this for each item on your list. If there is an item you can get done in 2 minutes or less … Just Do It!
If it takes more than 2 minutes to get it done, decide on what the next action will be such as organizing a meeting, reading an article, etc.
Any item that requires more than one step will be put on “your Projects” list. This list might include items such as arranging a meeting, writing a program, etc.
Step Three: Get Organized
Now that you have a long list of what you need to do, it’s time to get organized. Do that by categorizing your list using these six guidelines:
- Next Action – This is what is to be done next.
- Projects – These are the items on your list that need more than one immediate action to accomplish them.
- Waiting – These are the items on your list that require patience or waiting on a response from someone else.
- Someday or Maybe – These are items on your list that are long-term goals or that you want to get done but you don’t have a time when it will be done.
Calendar – Keep your calendar neat and free of clutter. Only put things on your calendar that you absolutely have to get done by a specific date and time such as a meeting.
- Reference It – Save it to a file for future reference. This would involve articles read, notes taken or anything else you may need at a later time.
Step Four: Review
Reviewing each step is an important part of the GTD® ssystem of time management.
At the very least, a time should be scheduled and set aside weekly for nothing but reviews. Some to-do lists may even be reviewed daily.
The review process ensures that the to-do lists are kept current and clean without unnecessary items cluttering it up.
Step Five: Use It
It’s time to use the GTD® time management tool to get things done efficiently. You may want to write things down like a computer flow chart so each step can be visualized.
In summary, here are the steps for using it::
- Information In
- What Is It?
- Is It Actionable?
- If No – Trash It!
- If Yes – Do It Now (If can be done in less than 2 minutes), Do it someday, Or Reference It
- What Is next action? Put specific time/dates on calendar, Delegate It or Wait on someone else
- Review and update process
By using the GTD® method of time management, you can avoid being overwhelmed.
By pinpointing and writing down everything that has captured your attention, deciding and clarifying what things are actionable, organizing everything into proper categories and staying current, you free up your thoughts to focus on what is important.
Using David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (®) will develop confidence and relieve stress by helping you get things done in the least amount of time and by using your energies or focusing your attentions wisely.
Most importantly, you will have happier clients or a happier boss.