People are often searching for tips on better productivity and/or how to set up a GTD system and what apps to use for that or their TO-DO lists.
Here are a few rules or tricks of the trade that work for me on those lines.
1. There is a lot of discussion about productivity but is that the best metric, same for efficiency.
Productivity – you get a lot done but is the right stuff ?
Efficiency – you get things done easily but is it focused for maximum effect ?
Effectiveness – you get the right things done at the right time for maximum benefit for yourself and/or your organisation.
So make sure what ever systems you are using make you effective, not just productive or efficient.
2. Do the thing that you least want to on your to do list first.
Whether it’s a difficult conversation with someone or a report that you don’t enjoy with a looming deadline or something necessary but that you find mundane.
Get it off your to do list early and it won’t be there staring back at you and distracting you because you know you will have to do it at some stage. Once it’s gone then it’s gone and you will feel better in yourself and energised to get on with other actions that you find more fulfilling. Mind like water.
3. Group things and do them in context.
Whether it’s a block of phone calls in one sitting or a period of clearing your e-mail inbox or writing a group of 2 minute e-mail responses together or spending some time on a report or spreadsheet. Hitting them in one go will help you get through them faster. Swapping from one type of thing to another and then back again over and over through the day is a thief of your time.
4. Don’t leave things on your to do list too long.
If something has been there for some time and you spot it each time you check your system but move onto something else then ask yourself: why is it that you are not doing it, does it still need to get done, is it really important, if someone else set you the action then how come they have not chase up on it ? Maybe it can be put into hold or someday/maybe or perhaps you should just delete it and if it is important it will come up again.
Or perhaps you should do it now (see 2 above)
5. Don’t be ruled looking for the perfect system
Don’t spend too much time tinkering with your GTD system and trying new apps all the time. Set something up that works and then use it. If it clearly needs fixing or changing to suit you then do that but otherwise just use it and get things done that need to be done. Maybe go back to it once a year and have a revamp but otherwise just let it work for you rather than trying to find a slightly better system. That can suck hours of your time when you could be getting actions off your list.