Productivity and GTD
Total Productive Mode
"If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything." ~ Shunryu Suzuki
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychology professor known worldwide as a researcher on positive psychology, defined the concept of flow as being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.
David Allen, in his book Getting Things Done, talks about a certain state you can achieve in which you get to do the most important things in a totally relaxed way, with minimal effort. He calls it productive state or staying in the zone, and compares it with another similar concept in the world of karate, which defines a position where you’re perfectly ready for anything: mind like water.
Mind like water, productive state, flow, staying in the zone… What do you need to get there? In one sentence: Thinking from time to time to avoid having to always be thinking. You need to reassess all your commitments periodically, at all levels:
- Several times a day you need to think about what actions are you going to perform at that time.
- At least once a week, you should do a thorough review of all your current projects.
- Every few months you should check how your areas of responsibility of your life and work are moving forward (career, health, finances, relationships, etc.), to ensure you’re performing the right projects.
- Once a year, you should rethink how and where you want to stay within 12-18 months. This will define your medium-term objectives.
- Finally, every 2-3 years you should deeply review the purpose of your life, your vision of who you want to be.
You must transform these regular reviews of your commitments into a habit. Not only you must have your goals clear at this moment, you must also trust that you will reassess them, if necessary, from time to time. This is the fundamental premise for achieving that total productive mode. Everything you do begins to be in tune with your inner self. You don’t have to think or worry, because you’ve thought enough with each review. Now you are able to flow.
Would you like to someday achieve that productive state? Start by adding to your Calendar a recurring task to do a weekly review of all your projects and open loops. Add to your calendar a quarterly task to review your areas of responsibility (try to put it in days-off or holidays). Add a yearly task to think about your medium-term goals. And add another task every 2 years for personal introspection at the highest level. The latter two should be put ideally in year-end or summer holidays.
Focus on weekly reviews to establish the habit. To do this, block a moment in the week you know you’ll have enough time and quiet. Don’t put them off.