Productivity and GTD

How to Turn Things around When Being Productive Seems Impossible

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
“What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” ~ Ralph Marston
Turn things around

Many people are aware of the importance of achieving a good level of personal productivity to have a better life in general. They know that it’s not just about doing more things, but rather doing them better, intelligently, spending less time with them, using certain mechanisms, connections, and synergies to achieve better results. They know that mastering the management of oneself will help them have a greater control over their life, less stress, more time to enjoy what they like and the people they care about… And they know that this will impact almost every aspect of their life, and ultimately, of their overall happiness.

Despite knowing all this, a lot of these people fail one time and another in their personal organization, they live in a semi-chaotic situation and are always too busy handling super-urgent stuff, what causes in them high levels of anxiety and stress that impact their health and relationships with other people, co-workers, partners, etc.

Why does this happen? Many times, for lack of knowledge. Actually no one teaches us to be organized and manage our personal universe, so this skill is often acquired on the basis of trial and error, and not always with an acceptable result. In many cases, frustration forces us to give up before achieving the desired level of personal management.

One way to avoid that path, that can be unnecessarily long and tortuous, is to try and learn techniques and methods that have been widely tested and validated. The GTD methodology is the one I would recommend to anyone looking for knowledge, because it’s a very complete system that covers not only work but also personal life, and not only the short term but also our more distant horizons.

This path isn’t quick either because it involves studying, applying the studied and making adjustments. Nor is it a sufficient condition because knowledge, after all, does not change behaviour. According to Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Switch: How to change things when change is hard, to change behavior or habits three forces are needed:

  1. A clear direction. What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity. If you want to be productive, you must first know with total clarity what that means and what you need to do in order to achieve it. That involves investing time is reading, learning, and experimenting. Without knowing exactly where you are going, it is not possible to change.
  2. An emotional motivation. What looks like laziness is often exhaustion. Even if you know what the road is, you have to go through it, and your head will not always cooperate. Because of that, it’s also necessary to appeal to emotions. Think of the reasons that are pushing you to go achieve that control of yourself. What motivates you? A more relaxed way of life? Spend more time with your family? Achieve more in your career?
  3. An achievable path. What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem. Even having things clear and a strong motivation, you will find that the environment or circumstances do not usually help. Every way you find to ease the journey will increase the chances of that change actually happening. If you want to be productive with GTD, using a tool like FacileThings, which guides you and pushes you to use the right habits, for sure will pave the way.

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