Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
As I looked back through my Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity book, I realized that there are some universal truths in it that can apply, and should apply, for anyone interested in being productive. While I officially no longer practice Getting Things Done, for the majority of my life, I found that I still use a few of the concepts all the time. I decided to hunt out these universal truths.
Gathering 100% of the “Incompletes”
David Allen’s point is that “if it’s not being directly managed in a trusted external system of yours, then it’s resident somewhere in your psyche.” That’s a lot of energy that is being used having to remember things again and again.
I used to get the oddest thoughts at the weirdest times…like the time I remembered I needed to restock one of the home bathrooms in the middle of teaching a class. And just what could I do about it at the time? Nothing. Yet the thought persisted, and my overwhelming memory of that class is not my students or what we covered, but of toilet paper.
Minimize the Number of Collection Buckets
This is a matter of common sense. If you have things all over the place, chances are you are going to overlook something. If you minimize the number of places you keep information, you won’t have to expend as much energy finding the information.
This concept killed my habit of writing things on sticky notes and leaving them everywhere. It also killed the one-note-book-per-project habit I got into in college. Now everything is in my PDA and one notebook.
Empty the Buckets Regularly
It doesn’t do any good to put something into a system if you’re never going to take it out. An inbox that is never emptied and dealt with is just as effective as a trash can. As David Allen says, “Not emptying your in-basket is like having garbage cans that nobody ever dumps — you just have to keep buying new ones to hold all your trash.”
I make it a point to empty my inbox and email at least weekly.
These three concepts are fundamental to any productivity system: get things out of your head, where you can’t forget them; put the items in as few places as possible; and go through those things regularly.
Photo by j / f / photos