Be more productive & get more things done
Some years ago, my company hired a new leader, Steve, to take over my small team. Steve came in and took the bull by the horns. Within two weeks, most everyone in the company either already met with him or heard about him. Steve came in with a fresh perspective, a new way to approach problems, and he wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo.
I learned a lot from Steve. One of the more impactful things that I learned from him was about being more productive and managing my time better. I thought I was probably more productive than most others, but I didn’t have any kind of system or plan in place, let alone any tooling to support it.
Steve introduced me to a new methodology, called GTD, or Getting Things Done. And he recommended that I read a book by the same name. I took my time reading this book, but I quickly started implementing bits and pieces of what I was learning from it into my own workflow.
Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.
– David Allen –
The book’s author, David Allen, has a simple and straightforward premise.
The main idea is that our brains are not meant to store information. We need to get ideas out of our brains and into our inbox, where we can refer to them later and organize them as needed.
Not doing so quickly leads to information and productivity loss.
1) Choose a system
Ever since my introduction to GTD, I’ve been testing and searching productivity apps looking for something that works for me and fits my needs. I’ve tried it all. From pen and paper to Omnifocus, Wunderlist, Things 3, Reminders, Slash, and now finally Amazing Marvin.
The idea of all of these is the same. They are all input systems that allow you to get ideas and tasks out of your head.
Once you’ve recorded your idea or task, you can relax and stop thinking about it. Now you can focus on the task at hand, and let your creative juices flow.
This simple action reduces stress and increases productivity by removing distracting thoughts about everything else that you need to do, as you know it’s already recorded in your system.
Some are more complicated than others, some look nicer, and some have additional features that you may or may not need. For me, Amazing Marvin ticked all the boxes I was looking for, but pen and paper are perfectly adequate for many, so don’t spend too much time finding the perfect system.
2) Create a workflow and live it
Regardless of the system you use, create a workflow that works for you and live and breathe it every single day. When an idea or something that needs to be done pops up, record it. Later, when you have more time, go through your inbox and classify and organize your items.
If something can be done immediately, do it right then there. Otherwise, defer it for later or delegate it to someone else.
Make it a point to apply your new workflow and check your system daily, multiple times a day.
I have Amazing Marvin installed on all of my devices and it is always open on my work machines. As I progress through the day, I check items off and start working on the next. I never have to think about what else needs to be done because it’s always right there, right in front of me.
At the end of the day, see what you completed for the day and pat yourself on the back. Then, see what you have coming up, and organize your tasks for the next day.
If anything didn’t get completed today, move it to tomorrow. This is perfectly OK, just try not to overload your days too frequently.
Spending a few minutes organizing at the end of the day can have a big impact on your mornings and overall productivity for the following day. You’ll have a good idea of what needs to be done, what your priorities for the day are, and what you should work on first.
3) Trust your system
No system in the world will work if you don’t trust it. Trust your system. The more you use it, the more trust will be built as there will be no need to second guess if something got done, recorded, or what needs to be done next.
This allows you to focus on what’s important, and to find creative and efficient ways to get things done stress-free.
Be more productive now
If you don’t have a productivity system now, following these few simple steps is a sure way to significantly increase your productivity. It’s truly amazing how much more you can get done, and how much better you can feel about it with just a little bit of time spent organizing and preparing. Stress-free productivity is a wonderful thing. Give it a shot, and let me know in the comments if other helpful tips work for you!
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