Nearly everyone these days is pressed for time. We all have things that we need to get done each day in our personal and professional lives, but there simply aren’t enough hours in each day.
As new assignments, unfinished work and deadlines continue to pile up; stress continues to build and eventually takes its toll.
Thankfully there is a way to get more done each day, without losing your last bit of sanity!
Increase Your Productivity by Reducing Your Stress Levels
In the year 2001, the renowned productivity expert, David Allen first published his groundbreaking work, “Getting Things Done, The Art of Stress Free Productivity.” In his book, Allen explains that the key to increasing your productivity is to learn how to unwind and relax.
According to Allen, as you release things that cause stress and bring more order into your life, you can gain clarity and increase your productivity. To help readers to be able to relax by introducing order and organisation into their lives, Allen uses what he calls the GTR or, Get-Things-Done, approach.
What is GTD and How Can it Help You to Accomplish More?
GTD helps you to be able to lower your stress by helping you to organise, manage and keep up with all of those things that bring us stress: to-do lists, assignments, deadlines, schedules, and priorities. Rather than having to keep up with all of these different pieces of information by storing them in our active memory, GTD helps you to develop your own system for recording them and getting them off of your mind.
Since you don’t have all of this work constantly on your mind and looming over you, and interrupting your thoughts, you can relax. This allows you to focus on whatever task is at hand and most important to you at the moment, and enables you to actually able to complete tasks more quickly, and with greater creativity.
GTD Basics – Steps to Get More Organised Each Day
- Choose a recording method that’s easy for you to use. The first step in the GTD process is to decide how you are going to record all of your to-do-lists, deadlines, thoughts, assignments, projects, appointments and more. It should be a system that’s easy for you to use, regardless of where you happen to be. Some people find that it’s easiest to use “old school” methods such as pads of paper, physical journals or day calendars, sticky notes and whiteboards. Others take the tech route and use one of the incredible apps, such as Evernote, OneNote and more that are available to help you organise your life and keep up with everything that’s important to you. Regardless of how you decide to record everything that’s important, pick an option and stick with it.
- After you record your thought or assignment, break your thoughts out into steps to take and complete the action.
- Assign categories and priorities for each of your thoughts, and include due dates or projected times for completion into your record. This one simple step will help you to be able to organise your day and to help you keep up with all of your deadlines.
- Take the time to look over your list each day and throughout your day to decide which task or record you want to complete first. You will get more done through the day if you first choose those tasks that you can do quickly and that don’t require a lot of effort or energy. Move on to more detailed tasks through the day. Periodically review the progress that you are making with your lists. Over time you may find that you need to change the priority, or even completely change the steps necessary to complete certain tasks and achieve certain goals.
- Focus on the task at hand, and then move on to the next assignment. Since you’ve already broken up each task into the steps that it will take to complete it, and have assigned all of your tasks a priority and a due date, you no longer waste time wondering what item you should work on next. Removing this ambiguity and uncertainty will also help to reduce your stress levels so that you get more accomplished.
Your GTD System Should Evolve and Grow With You
Over time, you may find that your system of recording your lists isn’t working out for you. In fact, this is likely to happen if you allow your system to become too complicated and cumbersome to keep up with.
The best thing about the GTD system is that there aren’t any hard or fast rules, and it’s open to your interpretation. Personalising the system to use recording tools that are easy for you to use and keep up with, and keeping your system straightforward and easy to understand will increase your organisation as well as your productivity.
Periodically review your GTD system and continually look for ways to simplify your processes over time so that your system continues to evolve and grow with you, while reducing your stress.