Productivity and GTD

To Be Productive, Trust Your Intuition

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
“Ultimately and always you must trust your intuition. There are many things you can do, however, that can increase that trust.” ~ David Allen

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Intuition

At any specific moment throughout the day, how do you decide what are you going to do next? It could be that you are still used to defining your priorities by assigning a number to each of your pending tasks so that later on you can choose the one with the highest number (even though that number was assigned 20 days ago, when the situation was completely different to the actual one). Working with these type of priorities, though usual, it’s a very poor self-management strategy.

The answer GTD gives to this question can be shocking at first: Trust your intuition!

However, if you really practice GTD, you know that this answer is not, whatsoever, frivolous. If you practice GTD, you know the importance of getting things done according to the available resources in each moment (context, time and energy.) You also know there are times in which you have to get things done and times when you have to define which things need to be done. Finally if you use GTD, you may have thought about your life purpose, your values, your areas of responsibility, and your long-term goals.

When all of this is embraced and, on top of it, you have a complete inventory of actions to perform, using your intuition to decide what you should be doing next is a completely effective approach.

As Seth Godin says in this post, intuition is not a game of chance when is well informed: “Intuition isn’t guessing. It’s sophisticated pattern matching, honed over time. Don’t dismiss intuition merely because it’s difficult to understand. You can get better at it by practicing.”

The method Getting Things Done talks about three models that can help you making the best decisions in the field of personal productivity:

  1. The Four-Criteria Model for Choosing Actions in the Moment. In which context are you in? How much time do you have? How do you feel? Finally, out of everything you can do, what is the most important?
  2. The Threefold Model for Evaluating Daily Work. Is it the moment of doing the previously defined work or is it the moment of defining new works? Or is it maybe a specific time in which you have do something that simply just arose?
  3. The Six-Level Model for Reviewing Your Own Work. If you have your actions and projects aligned with higher perspective levels, your priorities will be perfectly defined.

Forget about the priorities as you know them. Write down anything that comes up and which you need to think or do something about. Later, process those notes and decide if you really want or have to do something with them. If this is not the case, through them in the trash or save them in the Someday/Maybe list to consider them in the future. Organize correctly the actions and projects you decide to carry out.

If you know everything you need to do and everything you don’t need to do, and on top of that you know well the models mentioned previously, making the best decision about your next action is very easy. You only have to trust in your intuition.

2 comments

8bb2c9a97155fbcffcc91ca918d103c7
Commented over 3 years ago Cyrus

An excellent article. Thank you for publishing it.

I think of work on two different levels.

Priority: What is the most important thing I should do right now? The answer is almost always the item that has a hard due date or is holding up another task. Priority items are either mountains to climb or holes to fill. They are the tasks that stop progress until they are tackled. The bigger the obstacle, the higher the priority. In all cases, once the priority item is done, it's smooth sailing after it is accomplished. But I do not prioritize priorities. It either is or is not in my way. To help me determine which I should tackle first, I rely on context.

Context: Context gives me everything I need to know about a task. It tells me when it needs to be done and where I can complete it. Is it a task that requires me to go somewhere? Do something? Deliver an item or pick something up? Context can be as simple as a single tag or multiple tags. More tags does not mean more complexity. More tags just means a better defined context. I can put #mobile and #read to indicate that a task is something I can do on my phone and requires me to read, for example. FT allows me to handle a lot of the context. Time, due date, energy, and tag values. The end result is a very well defined to-do that took very little effort to create.

When we mix the two together, I know a great deal about what I need to do and when. More importantly, having this knowledge allows me to act to new situations. Not "react". Someone brings something new, I put it through FT and out comes a task that is ready to be worked on at the right time and at the right place.

Stress is gone, time is well spent, and I always know that what I am doing now is the best possible task to complete.

8bb2c9a97155fbcffcc91ca918d103c7 Cyrus

An excellent article. Thank you for publishing it.

I think of work on two different levels.

Priority: What is the most important thing I should do right now? The answer is almost always the item that has a hard due date or is holding up another task. Priority items are either mountains to climb or holes to fill. They are the tasks that stop progress until they are tackled. The bigger the obstacle, the higher the priority. In all cases, once the priority item is done, it's smooth sailing after it is accomplished. But I do not prioritize priorities. It either is or is not in my way. To help me determine which I should tackle first, I rely on context.

Context: Context gives me everything I need to know about a task. It tells me when it needs to be done and where I can complete it. Is it a task that requires me to go somewhere? Do something? Deliver an item or pick something up? Context can be as simple as a single tag or multiple tags. More tags does not mean more complexity. More tags just means a better defined context. I can put #mobile and #read to indicate that a task is something I can do on my phone and requires me to read, for example. FT allows me to handle a lot of the context. Time, due date, energy, and tag values. The end result is a very well defined to-do that took very little effort to create.

When we mix the two together, I know a great deal about what I need to do and when. More importantly, having this knowledge allows me to act to new situations. Not "react". Someone brings something new, I put it through FT and out comes a task that is ready to be worked on at the right time and at the right place.

Stress is gone, time is well spent, and I always know that what I am doing now is the best possible task to complete.

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb
Commented over 3 years ago Francisco Sáez

Hi Cyrus,

Brilliant! What you have expressed is a beautiful, simplified way to talk about what David Allen calls sometimes "Vertical and Horizontal Focus", and others "Perspective and Control".

Anyway, only when you apply both approaches you can reach stress-free productivity.

Thank you so much for your sharing your thoughts!

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb Francisco Sáez

Hi Cyrus,

Brilliant! What you have expressed is a beautiful, simplified way to talk about what David Allen calls sometimes "Vertical and Horizontal Focus", and others "Perspective and Control".

Anyway, only when you apply both approaches you can reach stress-free productivity.

Thank you so much for your sharing your thoughts!

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