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Getting Things Done

Time is limited. As you read this post, there are probably dozens of things you could, should, and wish you were doing. There seems to be this endless flow of information, obligations, and unexpected events that pull us in multiple directions. Life can be overwhelming and the boundary between your work life and personal life is blurred. If we think of each of our tasks like streams of water, left to chaos, the water can flood our lives. However, if we learn to manage our time effectively, our work will become a waterfall- simple, beautiful, and flowing. What can you do to better manage your time?

The book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by national bestseller David Allen (2015) describes the demanding nature of our lives and argues that we have insufficient resources to accomplish our tasks. He stresses the importance of relaxing our minds so that we can be as productive as possible. He provides a five-stage method in which individuals can manage their workflow: (1) capture, (2) clarify, (3) organize, (4) reflect, and (5) engage.

  • Capture: This stage describes how individuals track what they need to complete either in physical locations (e.g., sticky notes, to-do lists, email) or in their minds. The author suggests that when we have a better system for organizing our “stuff”, we free our minds to focus on other tasks. What can you do today to streamline how you collect information?
  • Clarify: This stage represents how individuals process the information and tasks they have collected – essentially, what happens next? Allen provides a workflow diagram that helps people consider whether something is actionable or whether it should be trashed. For items that are actionable, you can do it, delegate it, or defer it – the choice is yours. How do you choose to clarify the tasks you have collected?
  • Organize: This stage builds on the clarification stage by determining how you categorize the information you have collected. For example, if something is actionable and takes 2 minutes or less to complete, you do it. However, if the tasks takes longer to complete you can delegate this task or complete it later. The author emphasizes the importance organizing tasks into time-specific actions (i.e., to be completed at a specific time on a specific day) or a day-specific actions (i.e., a task to be completed on a specific day, but not time). What can you do today to organize your tasks?
  • Reflect: This stage of the five-stage method focuses on prioritizes your tasks in the context of the big picture of your life. Allen recommends reviewing your tasks on a weekly basis to improve your workflow process and keep your mind relaxed and clear. What trends mighty you discover if you take a moment to review what you have done and prioritize what to do next?
  • Engage: This stage is self-explanatory – take action, now. Once you’ve captured, clarified, organized, and reflected on which tasks are actionable, go do them! Allen describes how the application of his five-stage method helps individuals feel confident that they are making the right choices. He discusses how it’s important to consider context, time available, energy available, and priority in completing our tasks. What do you think motivates you to complete your tasks and how can you make this part of your process?

I would recommend reading this book. It will help you better manage your time and calm your mind.

Feel free to contact me with any research and evaluation questions or needs at annette@researchevaluationconsulting.com