Getting Things Done

To those of you that know me well, I doubt you’ll disagree with the statement that my ability to organise my calender leaves something to be desired. I’m often presented with numerous opportunities – whether personal or professional – and being the optimistic person that I am, often jump in head first to try and make the most of them. Whether accepting opportunities to give talks, trying to run Viola Enterprises, visiting family members scattered across the Midlands, moving house, keep up with my ever growing reading list or just keep informed and successful at my 9-5 job; the demands on my time seem to grow endlessly, and my calender (and mind) are often brimming with ideas.

Several years ago, I came across the practise of ‘Getting Things Done’ (GTD for short), a methodology promoted by a chap called David Allen. I still haven’t got round to reading the whole book, but I’ve picked up a few of the principles which I try to implement in my everyday life. The starting point of the methodology is the idea that humans have two types of memory, which I’ve taken to calling Working Memory, and Long Term Memory. Think of Working Memory a little like RAM in your computer (it handles things you’re working on right now), and Long Term Memory as the hard drive (it records your history, things that you’ve learnt and forms the knowledge base of your consciousness).

If you try to do too much at once on your computer, it slows down and eventually freezes up; the same thing applies to people. If you try and attack too many things at once, all you’ll achieve is a headache and a long list of semi-completed tasks. In order to prevent this, the GTD methodology advocates writing all tasks down on a single list, and then taking 3-5 items from this list each day and only working on those. Obviously, as a methodology, there are a whole range of accompanying ideas around how to capture and file ideas and information, but this is probably the main idea I’ve tried to implement since reading about it.

Naturally, I’m still working on Getting Things Done implemented properly – I’ve come to the conclusion that my working style is most effective when given clear direction and focus, and this helps to provide these guidelines. Since moving in with my girlfriend in London, I’m trying to focus on taking manageable bites of responsibility; when I was living alone, my tasks for a day could change and I could pick up tasks as suited me, but living with someone else requires more planning and focus. I’ve got the planning stage far better implemented than previously, but the methodical ‘crossing off’ of items from the list still needs some work.

Organising my calender needs more effort than ever before – with my daily commute time now nearly 4 hours a day, time and energy to work in the evenings are at an all time low. It would be easy to feel discouraged by this, as I’ve always been someone that worked on side projects on evenings and weekends, and these have fallen by the wayside in the last months due to new constraints. With just over half the year remaining though, I’m refocusing my efforts on productivity, and am thoroughly determined to regain control over spiralling demands on my time and energy.

As part of this productivity drive, I’m determined to get back into writing content for this blog, and am booking out my Sunday mornings to pursue this goal. Expect more content in time!