Productivity and GTD
Do You Have a Daily Action Plan?
“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” ~ Peter Drucker
The alarm goes off. A long day ahead to enjoy, but also a million things to do. You feel relaxed or worried about all the things you still need to do?
The way you’re facing your day doesn’t depend that much on the number of things you need to do but rather on your perception of what comes ahead. If you don’t have any plan and you just limit yourself to see what’s coming, the uncertainty and lack of clarity can raise your stress levels considerably. Knowing where are you going to focus your attention on, however, will provide you tranquility and confidence.
But beware! Preparing your day in advance doesn’t mean filling the calendar with good intentions, it means deciding what actions you should pay attention to, and anticipating possible needs or difficulties to carrying them out.
To face your days in a relaxed and efficient way you’ll need a daily action plan that allows you to focus on what’s important, and most importantly, provides you that feeling of having everything under control necessary to suffocate any sign of anxiety or stress. A daily action plan is a guide designed to eliminate the stress of uncertainty and to motivate you to carry out a set of actions that you have formulated as fully feasible.
There are tons of methods that might help you generate that action plan, but the strategy proposed by David Allen in Getting Things Done is really efficient, since it’s based on an inventory of actions that you’ve previously organized according to your goals and priorities. Using the GTD methodology, your daily action plan is reduced to knowing where to look at each moment:
- Firstly, you’ll need to look at the commitments you have defined in your Calendar. The actions that you must do on a certain day or time are insurmountable, so your daily activities need to revolve around them.
- During the “gaps” in which you aren’t doing anything from your Calendar, you’ll need to review your Next Actions (the things you must do as soon as possible, but without a specific date) and decide which task is more interesting to do in that moment. Choose an action according on the context you are set on, the time and energy you have available and the relative priority of each action.
- As new things are coming throughout the day (emails, calls, ideas, etc.), capture them in your system and then evaluate the need to spend some time clarifying and organizing the new information at the end of the day. There will be some days in which that will be unnecessary and others in which you’ll need to do it a couple of times. There will also be days when you’ll need to change your plan to solve a problem that just can’t wait. That’s fine, having a plan doesn’t mean you can’t do other things.
First thing in the morning, or better, the night before, you can spend five minutes to review your Calendar and your Next Actions list. That way, you’ll get a clear image in your head of the actions to which you’ll need to dedicate your day. You’ll sleep better and you’ll wake up more relaxed ;)