Get(ting) Shit Done #GTD #Productivity


“Life is busy. Time doesn’t stop. Distractions abound. We all have the same 24 hours in a day that never seem enough. Catching up is today’s middle name.”

Sound familiar?

Well all of these are relatable to me or rather were relatable to me. But this year I have decided that I need to “get my shit together” and “get shit done” by organising myself with a time-management system that works for me.

Years ago, in the late 90s and early 2000s, I swore by my Filofax. I carried this little magical folder around with me for both work and pleasure. This was in the time before smart phones, tablets and light laptops and Facebook. This little leather hold-all (file of facts stuff to do/keep/remember/store) was the perfect organiser for me.

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Filofax Image courtesy of A Bowl Full Of Lemons

If I needed to remember something I would write it down in here. If I needed to update a friend’s new contact details and store their birthday date, I would write it down in here. If I needed to keep an appointment schedule, I would write it down in here. If I needed to manage a deadline on a specific project/task, I would write it down in here. If I needed to write notes down, I would write them down in here.

But then the digital world bloomed and suddenly I had access to first software then apps on everything from smartphones to tablets to transfer my Filofax into. Eventually I stopped keeping a physical Filofax, I stopped keeping an address/birthdays book and I moved everything online. But now with the plethora of digital task management, schedule management and time planning tools available I got stuck with too many tools and not one compact system.

Last year I tried to go back to my Filofax days but found that the standard Filofax method just would not do it for me anymore.

I realised that it wasn’t the tools – digital or Filofax – that was the problem but that my system of organisation had failed me.

Then at the end of last year I stumbled across a productivity website on GTD: Getting Things Done by David Allen.

Now don’t get me wrong I can spend hours trialling the perfect productivity app, searching for productivity hacks and collecting beautiful paper notebooks. But GTD is not about what tools you use, whether you’re modern-digital or old-school-paper but rather it is simply a very simple, achievable, measurable system to Get Things Done and out of the way before Getting The Next Things Done.

Mind like Water

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend. – Bruce Lee

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In karate, there is an image that’s used to define the position of perfect readiness: “mind like water.” Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? The answer is, totally appropriately to the force and mass of the input; then it returns to calm. It doesn’t overreact or underreact.
The power in a karate punch comes from speed, not muscle; it comes from a focused “pop” at the end of the whip. It’s why petite people can learn to break boards and bricks with their hands: it doesn’t take calluses or brute strength, just the ability to generate a focused thrust with speed. But a tense muscle is a slow one. So the high levels of training in the martial arts teach and demand balance and relaxation as much as anything else. Clearing the mind and being flexible are key.
Anything that causes you to overreact or underreact can control you, and often does. Responding inappropriately to your email, your staff, your projects, your unread magazines, your thoughts about what you need to do, your children, or your boss will lead to less effective results than you’d like. Most people give either more or less attention to things than they deserve, simply because they don’t operate with a “mind like water.” – David Allen
Excerpted via Getting Things Done (The Book)

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them. That’s why David Allen created Getting Things Done®. GTD is the work-life management system that has helped countless individuals and organizations bring order to chaos with stress-free productivity.”
Excerpted via David Allen’s Getting Things Done website.

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Something zinged in me and I knew I had found my perfect productivity hack. Best of all it works.

GTD : From Chaos to Zen
GTD is about breaking up your day/project/schedule into tasks vs next tasks, actionable tasks vs someday tasks. It is about realising your brain works better at focusing once it is decluttered. Instead of cluttering up your brain with times, deadlines, things still to be done, I need to do a brain-dump. I need to write down all the to-dos and notes and tasks then break them down into simple daily tasks. Instead of trying to do everything and being left finishing nothing, GTD helps you focus on the most urgent tasks in small, bite-size chunks.

GTD works for anything whether it be household chores / work / event-planning / project/task management / meeting time-sensitive deadlines. It works with the most basic task to the most complicated project.

So now that I have told you about my HOW “Get Shit Things Done” system, I am going to spend the next few weeks sharing the WHAT tools I use to Get Shit Things Done.

So stay tuned…

Productivity Posts Coming up:
Digital vs Paper vs Hybrid Organisation
My Top 3 Digital Productivity Tools (Series)
My Ultimate Favourite Productivity Tool
My favourite tools to track my Writing Progress

How do you get things done?
Do you have an organisation system or do you just wing it?
Are you a digital or paper or hybrid (digital and paper) organiser?

Related Posts Elsewhere

Zen Habits: Everything GTD

1 Comment

  1. I’m hopeless at organising! I read books and posts about de-cluttering in a desperate attempt to get my act together, promise myself with great enthusiasm, Yes, I’m staring right now, only to abandon my efforts after only one day!!! Best of luck, Kim. Cheers 🙂 Irina

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