There is a reason that the word time is in our name. It isn’t just to show the relationship of money and time or how time is more valuable (although we covered that in our last article!). It is also to show that what you are actually able to do/accomplish affects how much time you have and how much money you make. For example, if you are not organized this can cause you to miss doing things you want to do, increase your stress levels so you do not have the energy to do more, or cause you to not be able to take more responsibility at work/home, make the time to educate yourself more, pick up a 2nd job, etc. The list could go on and on. Just because you have an idea or plan, if you can not execute it or actually do it, it is nothing more than a dream. Dreams are great and we should dream, but dreams don’t come true without doing.
A Personal Story- For something to be life changing it must be the best of the best in terms of quality and come at the right time in your life. For me that was Getting Things Done or GTD for short. This book reinvigorated my love for reading and showed me just how powerful a great book can be. As someone who was just starting out life on their own, I was struggling with what a lot of the things GTD addressed. I noticed tendencies I had in college that would have been great to know about had I read the book sooner. After starting the process, just the simple change of writing everything done completely relieved a lot of the stress I had been feeling. It has been a constantly evolving journey spanning almost 10 years now and my system has been changed many times, but I can personally credit where I am today because of what I learned in GTD.
So Why Should You Care?- If you do not have a trusted (don’t discount that word, you may have a system, but you have to trust it 100%) system, and you are constantly thinking and trying to remember the same thing, you are wasting mental energy that stops you from being creative and allows you to relax and de-stress. If you can not think to your full potential because you are worrying about trivial things or have no energy because of the stress of the un-captured things that need to get done, you will not get promoted to better jobs nor will you be able to enjoy/use your time wisely. You need to be clear and current on what is most important in your life and what will move you forward. A good use of your time is to find things that you are going to do very often and for the rest of your life. You are always going to have tasks and responsibilities thrown at you, so it would be in your best interest to learn all you can about productivity and to make a system that works for you on how to handle these things.
I Don’t Need a System or the GTD System Sounds Complicated- A common term among people who practice GTD is a term called “Falling off the GTD wagon.” Basically you started doing the 5 stages of GTD and maybe saw some benefits, but then you stopped, got behind, and then went back to your old habits. You could apply this same line to almost any habit you are trying to make. Using GTD or a trusted system for your tasks is a life changing habit that will forever be tweaked and improved. Just when you think you have reached the highest level of GTD or productivity and your system is near perfect, you will find something else you could be doing better. Or you will look at your “perfect” system and realize it actually has a lot of flaws. The biggest advice we would say to you is to change your system if it is not working, but do not change for change sake. If you are always changing your system to be “more productive”, you are actually just procrastinating what you need to get done. Sure that new system might be a little faster/better, but for all the time it takes to research, set up, and transport everything over, all that time spent could have been on crossing off next actions and completing projects. The whole point of GTD is that you are actually DOING!!!
There are a couple of David Allen (the author of GTD) quotes that really stand out and summarize what we are trying to say. One is that you should never have the same thought twice. If you keep thinking of the same thing, obviously it is important! Write it down to give your mind a break. “Your mind is for having ideas not holding them” is great David Allen quote. “The secret of Getting Things Done is not about getting things done. It is about being appropriately engaged with your life and work so that you can be fully present with whatever you are doing.” is another. Getting Things Done and being productive, gives you control of your life and changes the way you engage with the world. You will follow through on commitments, write things down on the calendar and follow through…or not if something more important comes up because you thought it was a better use of your time, and just have a more clear mind to do the things you love and want to do.