Productivity and GTD

Keep Calm and Still Get Stuff Done

AUTHOR: Kayla Matthews
Keep calm and get things done

Deadlines are approaching. An absent employee forces you to reassign work to others who are already complaining. An email has arrived that changes the direction of your day. You can’t keep up with your text messages. The printer just ran out of ink and no one knows why there aren’t more toner cartridges in the office.

You fantasize about screaming at everyone and then heading to the spa, golf course or, better yet, the airport. First, take a deep breath. Then, collect your thoughts and follow these ideas to remain calm and still get stuff done.

Make a List

The to-do list is indispensable. Using your mobile device or whatever app you like is fine, but nothing can replace pen and paper for identifying and working through your daily tasks.

Make a weekly list and then break it down into smaller tasks and sub-tasks. Pick a character, like an asterisk, or use different colors to prioritize tasks into high, medium and low. Separate your work tasks from your household and personal obligations. Focus on the high-priority tasks first. Accomplishing the higher-priority tasks often produces a domino-effect, giving you momentum for the lower-priority tasks.

Identify Distractions

Where there are people there will always be distractions. Now, in the computer age, you have distractions waiting for you on the internet or in your games menu. Be aware of your workplace distractions and try to avoid them. If you know one YouTube video will lead to another and another, then click off that website tab and save it for a reward when your work is done.

Some people do well with quiet music as background noise. Others will sing along and won’t be able to focus on their work. Set boundaries with coworkers who monopolize your time with their work gripes or personal tales of woe.

Delegate Tasks

You can’t do everything yourself. Maybe you’re a control freak and feel you must. But you’ll be more successful if you learn how to delegate the right tasks to other people. Rid yourself of the worry that they won’t do it precisely the way you would and be ready to accept the end result. Empower good people to help you accomplish your goals.

Sometimes, a whole office can become overwhelmed by low-priority, time-sensitive tasks. In this case, outsourcing such items is a smart and efficient way to get the work done. For example, business meetings and press releases can be delegated to remote transcriptionists so your in-house team is freed up to work on other tasks. You, too, can outsource some of your less-pleasing tasks by finding a freelancer to shoulder the burden or even taking on a personal assistant.

Control Your Emotions

Certain people are going to push your buttons. Maybe they know they can, and they do it on purpose. Unexpected changes can be quite stressful. Things break. Everyone makes mistakes, but messes can usually be cleaned up. We all have bad days. Many things cannot be controlled, but you do control how you respond to them.

You can’t directly control the attitudes or work ethics of others, but you can set a good example by remaining calm and in control. Taking a deep breath and silently counting to three or five before responding to something uncomfortable can give you an edge and spare you unneeded embarrassment from lashing out in anger.

Of course, there are times when counting, even to 500, won’t do you any good and some responses require effective emotions. Keep this to a minimum.

Take Care of Yourself

No job is worth your health. An unhealthy “you” means an unhealthy workforce. You owe yourself, your family and your employees the best you can offer. We all have bad habits that affect all aspects of our lives. Do you stress-eat? Smoke? Drink too much after work? Do you watch mindless television late into the night, rather than getting quality sleep? Are you exercising regularly ?

Make a list of your unhealthy habits and try to address them. Take walks, join a gym or find other healthy outlets for your stress.

It’s all about control. Identify what your day is going to bring you and then plan for how you’ll deal with it. Knock the roadblocks to your success out of the way and enjoy your newfound efficiency. Practice healthy habits and you’ll be in a better place mentally and physically to enjoy your achievements.

3 comments

A0dcd2c0bb57a1ace5b23ad0cfb0177a
Commented 7 months ago Andy Dingle

This is poignant for me at the moment. Great Article! Thank you

A0dcd2c0bb57a1ace5b23ad0cfb0177a Andy Dingle

This is poignant for me at the moment. Great Article! Thank you

00d0a361be3efa69c937adcb1446d9cd
Commented 7 months ago Günther

It appears to me that what Kayla writes in section "Make A List" does not comply with GTD methodically. In my understanding, one key aspect of GTD is to stop making lists like described therein. However, it would be almost compliant if all the tasks on the "weekly list" actually were definitely due in the respective week. Otherwise you'd lose the excellent flexibilty you gain with respect to next actions when applying GTD. Or is my understanding wrong?

00d0a361be3efa69c937adcb1446d9cd Günther

It appears to me that what Kayla writes in section "Make A List" does not comply with GTD methodically. In my understanding, one key aspect of GTD is to stop making lists like described therein. However, it would be almost compliant if all the tasks on the "weekly list" actually were definitely due in the respective week. Otherwise you'd lose the excellent flexibilty you gain with respect to next actions when applying GTD. Or is my understanding wrong?

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb
Commented 7 months ago Francisco Sáez

Hi Günther,

You are totally right. The "Make a List" section does not apply to GTD practitioners. We don't prioritize tasks on subjective feelings and we don't split work and personal life ;)

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb Francisco Sáez

Hi Günther,

You are totally right. The "Make a List" section does not apply to GTD practitioners. We don't prioritize tasks on subjective feelings and we don't split work and personal life ;)

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