Why To-do Lists Do Not Work... And Calendars Either

Published on June 29, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

We need new methods, technologies, and work habits to help us get on top of our world.

to-do list

“Neither our standard education, nor traditional time-management models, nor the plethora of organizing tools available, has given us a viable means of meeting the new demands placed on us.” ~ David Allen

To-do lists were invented at the same time that time management started to become a problem for many people, especially for knowledge workers. There was too much to do, so at the beginning it was at least necessary to have a clear inventory of all that stuff.

Once we had those long lists in our hands, we saw that they could be improved. We could identify the tasks to be done at a specific time and put them in special task lists we called calendars. There are still many people who handle all their tasks with a calendar (what harm Google Calendar has done!)


Crises Are Opportunities

Published on June 22, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

Crises are situations in which everything can be improved. Get used to them and accept them.


“Through each crisis in my life, with acceptance and hope, in a single defining moment, I finally gained the courage to do things differently.” ~ Sharon E. Rainey

Personal productivity is mainly a matter of habits. That’s why when the wrong habits are installed in your brain for too much time, nothing works. No matter the method, tricks and support tools that you use. The first few weeks everything seems great, but old habits suddenly impose again and chaos reigns again.

If that happens to you, the good news is that at least you are on the right track. You may need to overstep the mark a little more and cause a bigger crisis.


New GTD Project Management in FacileThings: Personal Kanban

Published on June 17, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

From now on, you can choose Kanban Personal to manage specific projects in your GTD system.

In GTD, most of your projects (by definition, any outcome that needs more than one action step) will be a sequence of actions to be performed one after the other to achieve the end result. In such projects, FacileThings shows you only the very first next action of each project in the Next Actions list. And when you complete it, the following action shows up automatically. So straightforward.

However there are cases, in projects that are more complex and/or more people are involved, where it can be convenient to have more than one action of the same project active in your Next Actions list.

We have researched into different ways to allow you to manage such projects. After testing different kinds of diagrams and methods, we have chosen to implement a Kanban-type management, for several reasons:

  • Its simple and visual character is suitable for anyone. No need to be an engineer to manage a project.
  • Despite its simplicity, it’s very powerful.
  • It is a flexible and lean system, highly consistent with the GTD philosophy.

Action Bias: Stand Still... If You Can

Published on June 08, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

Individuals have a penchant for action, often for good reasons. Sometimes is just a result of nonrational behavior.

action bias

The referee gives a penalty kick in a soccer match. The ball will take a split second to reach the goal from the moment of the striker’s kick, so the goalie cannot wait to see the ball’s trajectory to decide to which side he should jump. The decision should be taken beforehand. The odd thing is that the goalkeeper will decide, in most cases, to jump to the right side or to the left side, when the optimal strategy according to statistics is the third option: standing in the middle. Why won’t he stand still? Just because doing nothing is always somewhat embarrassing, even if it is the right thing to do.

In the Summer I often find myself in traffic jams due to the many tourists who frequent the beaches of the Mediterranean coast. As I know the area, I get on little known roads and paths as soon as I spot a line of stopped cars. Most of the time this is kind of counterproductive; when taking these roads I drive more kilometers, spend more gas and sometimes it even take longer than if I got stuck for 10 or 15 minutes. But, well, moving is preferable than feeling that I’m just standing there, wasting my time.

This phenomenon is called action bias 1 and it urges us to do things in ambiguous situations where we feel we should be doing something, whether it is a good idea or not. It is something you should keep in mind because we usually take very bad decisions in such circumstances.


How to Manage Your Energy to Be More Productive

Published on June 01, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

To be more efficient and productive, you must work according to your energy level.

renewing energy

The other day I met a friend for coffee. When we finished our coffees, we decided to go for a walk and continue the conversation for a little longer. Bad idea. The sun was blazing hot; the temperature 30ºC. I said goodbye and went home to continue the work I had planned to do that evening. Impossible. It took less than five minutes to realize that the increasingly intense headache caused by the sunstroke would not allow me to concentrate on what I had to do for a good while.

Was the evening completely lost? No, I couldn’t do anything that required a high effort of concentration or creativity, but I could do other things. I could lie on the couch and quietly read a few articles on marketing that I had pending. I did that. I could go and buy some office supplies I needed. I also did that.

In terms of productivity, the evening was as good as if I had done what had been planned all along. At the end of the day though, I did things that I should have done another time.


On Capturing and Processing at Once, and the GTD's Misunderstood Lack of Flexibility

Published on May 25, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

The difficulty of separating the stages to capture and clarify is one of the major handicaps to get the full benefit of GTD.

gtd five stages

One of the most common mistakes when implementing GTD, not only at the beginning but also after having practiced the method for a long time, is the tendency to mix the stages of collecting and processing (or capturing and clarifying, as David Allen call them in his recent review and update of the GTD book.)

Indeed, one of the features that FacileThings users demand more often, even knowing how GTD works, is the ability to process one thing when it’s collected. Or, as a shortcut, allowing to process a specific action in the inbox without being forced to process, one by one, all the previously collected items. It is basically the same trap and it’s really hard to change this habit.

The beauty of this five-step method to get all our activities under control is that actually they’re the steps that all of us already apply when it comes to get things done, although in an unconscious way most of the times—even without knowing a word about GTD. We capture something that got our attention, we clarify what it really means, we organize it by putting it on the corresponding list, we review our lists as often as necessary and we do what we have to do at any time. Collect, process, organize, review and do. Or, following the new naming: Capture, clarify, organize, reflect and engage.


6 Unusual Ways To Do The Work

Published on May 18, 2015 by Marlena Kuczyńska

Here are six original ways to get things done for when you're too tired or unmotivated.

unusual ways to get things done

It’s the middle of the day, you’re tired and don’t think clearly anymore, you want to go home but still have 3 hours left of work before you can go. You have this nagging thought in your head: How can you get motivated and be more productive all day long, so you don’t hit these darn speed bumps that pop up all over the place like little targets on a video game?

Here are some fun ways to become more productive and motivated during your days:

1. Have a “Be someone else day”

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