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Get Things Done: Just Do It

The final phase of David Allen’s productivity process known as Getting Things Done is the most intuitive: engaging, or actually getting things done. The general process focuses on getting all the things you need to do out of your mind and onto paper. Then de-cluttering it, and organizing it into a system. The last phase of this immense organizational undertaking is actually doing the things you’ve written out.

Seems simple, right? Well, it’s easier said than done. Getting all of the things out of your head and creating a simple and effective structure to accomplish them is the relatively easy part.

The hard part is making sure you stick to your system in the face of stress.

Allen asserts that this system, if you do it right and stick to it, can pass any stress test. But most people, in a panic, will find themselves going back to older (and less productive) habits. Trusting the system and relying on it whether it’s a typical day or the busiest day of the year is the goal.

If you go back to old habits, it will completely defeat the purpose of all the work you did to create the organization of the Getting Things Done system.

Some of the inspiration for Allen’s system comes from a rather unlikely source: martial arts. Allen cites “mind like water,” a cliché mantra from martial arts as sort of the bedrock for how the GTD system is constructed.

Picture a stream of water in your mind. If you throw a small pebble into it, the water will react to the pebble being thrown into it - ripples, water displaced, maybe a corresponding splashing sound. But, soon after, the water will settle and continue to flow the way it had.

Now, picture a gigantic boulder being tossed into that same stream. The impact will be loud; water will be splashed around and the stream will be agitated from the force of such a large object. But, like with the pebble, soon, the water will calm and begin flowing as it had before.

The Getting Things Done system is predicated on your building a system so that your mind can act like water in this stream - sure there are stressors and new tasks and interruptions, and it will cause a bit of a disruption.

But, when using and stick to the system, once you’ve organized this new disruption into your system, your mind will go back to the way it was: unstressed, calm and efficient.

Using the system will allow you to calmly, effectively and confidently tackle everything life throws into your stream. Allen’s system is designed to help you accomplish big things by breaking them down into their smaller, incremental parts.

We strongly recommend paying a visit to his website and ultimately purchasing the book, updated a few years ago, about Getting Things Done. But whether you buy into David Allen’s system, someone else’s, or you create one of your own, the important thing is simply to have a system in place.

Especially if you’re in a position of leadership, constantly shifting focus and managing your life (and others) in “react” mode is unhealthy, stress and ultimately unproductive. Develop a productivity system for yourself and for your company to keep everyone accountable, efficient and effective.

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