Productivity and GTD

Commit to Make Decisions

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
“It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.” ~ Elbert Hubbard
Decisions

Making decisions without having a real commitment with them is one of people’s main causes of frustration. It’s something that many people do regularly, and one of the most clear examples is when dealing with the famous New Year’s resolutions.

Whenever a new year approaches many people carry out the usual review about the things they have achieved and those that have been left undone. They reflect about how they feel about them and, based on those feelings, they set up some good purposes for the following year.

In most occasions, those good purposes have already been forgotten by February. When you don’t commit to the decisions you make, everything remains as good intentions, vague desires or diffuse dreams that come back to your head again and again (at least, every year) producing anxiety and stress, and making you feel bad for not complying your decisions.

I should do exercise, I should learn Spanish, etc. are examples of lack of commitment. “Should” never implies a real decision. When you commit to doing something, you cannot leave room to cheat, because you end up lying to yourself. You must clearly define where the boundaries are and use a clear language: I am going to study Spanish for three hours every week.

I will do this in a few days, I will do it soon, etc. are other ways to compromise very weakly with a decision. When you say yes, you must mean Yes. Clearly express your commitment: I will have it finished next Friday.

In order to commit to something you must understand why. Why is it important for you, or for others, to do that? Honestly answering this question will give you the necessary motivation to acquire commitment… or to say no.

Besides committing yourself to the decisions you make, you must commit to making decisions constantly. The “inbox” of your life is full of indefinite stuff. Do not just think about them, decide what you’re going to do with them. Don’t wait to come up with the perfect decision, just decide and move forward. You don’t have to live your whole life with every decision you make. If you are wrong, you will correct it later.

When you get in a dynamic in which you are not afraid to make one decision after another, you push your life forward, you progress, and your confidence in yourself gets strengthened.

One of the objectives of GTD is to help you manage your commitments so you complete them when they are meant to be completed, don’t contract them when you shouldn’t do it and renegotiate with yourself when priorities change — without generating negative feelings that undermine your moral.

Don’t wait till the end of each year to end up “deciding” that you’re going to do some things that you’re not really going to do. Instead, actively decide where you focus on each moment in which you are alive.

2 comments

8bb2c9a97155fbcffcc91ca918d103c7
Commented 4 months ago Cyrus

Great article and timely, too, with a new year right around the corner.

To help me make and keep promises, I use the following "tricks of the trade".

1. Formatted Task Description

I always describe my projects and tasks using the following format: I will (action), starting (date/time), to complete (outcome).

This helps me shape my promise and keep it by knowing exactly what it is I am doing (action), the time frame I will be spending on the action (date/time) and what it will be like when I am done (outcome). If I can envision it, I can complete it.

2. Heavy Use of BKR

BKR is short for Objective and Key Result. I use these in my projects to help me identify what the overall objective is and what 2 to 4 key results will be included when the project is done. Knowing the objective keeps me free and clear of asking why I am doing the project in the first place. The key results help me identify milestones I need to work towards and the benefits I will receive when I complete the project.

There are a lot of tricks and traps when writing tasks, projects, goals, and vision statements. I heard it mentioned that we should always plan for our "future selves" since we are making commitments the present-self does not need to work on. By carefully writing and thinking through each task, action, or plan we want "to do", we can set a solid foundation for our future-selves to work from.

8bb2c9a97155fbcffcc91ca918d103c7 Cyrus

Great article and timely, too, with a new year right around the corner.

To help me make and keep promises, I use the following "tricks of the trade".

1. Formatted Task Description

I always describe my projects and tasks using the following format: I will (action), starting (date/time), to complete (outcome).

This helps me shape my promise and keep it by knowing exactly what it is I am doing (action), the time frame I will be spending on the action (date/time) and what it will be like when I am done (outcome). If I can envision it, I can complete it.

2. Heavy Use of BKR

BKR is short for Objective and Key Result. I use these in my projects to help me identify what the overall objective is and what 2 to 4 key results will be included when the project is done. Knowing the objective keeps me free and clear of asking why I am doing the project in the first place. The key results help me identify milestones I need to work towards and the benefits I will receive when I complete the project.

There are a lot of tricks and traps when writing tasks, projects, goals, and vision statements. I heard it mentioned that we should always plan for our "future selves" since we are making commitments the present-self does not need to work on. By carefully writing and thinking through each task, action, or plan we want "to do", we can set a solid foundation for our future-selves to work from.

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb
Commented 4 months ago Francisco Sáez

Hi Cyrus,

As always, thanks for your comments. I really think they're useful for many readers.

Also, you've given me another topic to write about: OKRs ;)

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb Francisco Sáez

Hi Cyrus,

As always, thanks for your comments. I really think they're useful for many readers.

Also, you've given me another topic to write about: OKRs ;)

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