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Call me Wolf: I get things done

Getting things done – GTD – philosophy, the art of stress free productivity.

what it is

Whether you’re organizing a work presentation or buying Christmas presents, the GTD philosophy forces you to start by identifying a clear goal and then asking yourself: what’s the next concrete action I can take to come closer to achieving my goal?

how it works

By keeping every task small enough that you can take care of it in a short period of time, a lack of time or motivation won’t be able to hinder you from doing what you need to do.
Using the GTD method, you’ll always be prepared to work on tasks at short notice, regardless of what else is going on or where you are.

one step at a time

In this day, to be successful in your work is to be a good organizer.
Almost every minute we are bombarded by new tasks and to-dos and that the reason why our brains are trying to work out our unsolved problems, reminding us about them at the most inopportune moments.
How can we survive?
In order to work as efficiently as possible, we have to keep our mind from dwelling on anything unrelated to the task we are performing at any given moment.
So, don’t try to solve dozens of tasks and project at once, but use 100% of your mind’s capacity to focus on the task at hand and then move to the second.

a collection bucket. Said… what?

In an ideal world, you’d always be able to focus entirely on whatever you were doing at any given moment: writing an email, talking to a colleague, answering a phone call, etc.
In reality, however, our brains have an irritating way of never quite letting us forget what else we still need to take care of: remember this, pay this, etc.
Last, we’re constantly bombarded with new information about the last product, an interesting brand you want to remember, etc.
In order to avoid this, you should always use a “collection bucket”, a place outside your mind where you can deposit any piece of information or idea that’s bound to distract you.
So, you will always know where you can find the information later or when you have time to deal with it. This way, those tasks will not distract you in the moment.
Your collection bucket can take on various forms: notebooks, lists on your computer, app on your smartphone, physical boxes or a combination of these tools. Keep it simple, the key is to have your collection bucket close by, so it’s easy to call up the information they contain.

5 SIMPLE STEPS to apply order to chaos











take out the trash

If your collection buckets are not up to date, they’re no longer reliable and your brain will begin to distrust them.
Once that happens, your subconscious will start being distracted by unsolved problems and tasks again.
What can you do in order to prevent your brain to lose faith?
Take out the trash, once a week, it’s the only way to guarantee stress-free productivity:

  • If an item is unimportant, take it off the list immediately
  • If you can take care of it very quickly (in 2 minutes or less), do it immediately
  • If it’s important, file it in the correct place

If it’s an appointment, project or concrete task, transfer it to the appropriate list

put your staff in the right places

Most to-do lists tend not to work because they become a random collection of tasks, thoughts, information.

External collection buckets” are ideal for collecting all the stuff you don’t want in your head. It’s your safe place where you are amassing stuff, where you don’t have to classify and store them in a particular category at the time because you can come back to them later.
It’s only when you empty your external collection buckets each week that you have to make decisions: what kind of stuff do I have? What should I do with it?
So, take out the trash and:

  1. If it’s a complex activity (if requires more than one concrete task), turn it into a project with a clear goal
  2. All other tasks should end up on a next actions list

A “Projects list” provides an overview of all your current projects.
To define a project, you have to think about results: how will your world look when the project is finished? Can you describe the result in one sentence? For example: “when this project is done, I will book the flights for my next vacation”.
The point of this list is to keep track of all your current projects that need to be done in the near future.
You should always make sure that every project has a next task that finds its way onto the Next Actions List, because concrete tasks are what make it possible to achieve every goal.

Next Actions list” define the steps you need to take to execute your projects.
Start by thinking about the end goals of the project and then let your mind brainstorm all the different steps needed to get there.
Write them down and organize them so the concrete actions you need to take become clear.

Waiting for list” can be very helpful when you work with other people.
This is where you note everything that other people have to deliver to you, along with their deadlines, for example if you are waiting for your colleague to send you some data for your presentation.
Review and update this list each week, so you will notice when someone hasn’t take care of a certain task within a certain period of time. In this case, you will have a concrete task: you must remind that person with an email, a short phone call, etc.
If doing so would take less than 2 minutes, do it immediately. If not, write it on the Next Action list.

When you have no choice but to plan things at the last minutes, use your calendar to store ideas and tasks that are connected to specific days.

Another important component of the GTD method is the “Someday/Maybe list”.
What goes onto this list?
The Someday/Maybe list contains all things you haven’t been able to translate into concrete ideas or tasks just yet.
You can split it into sub-lists where you can keep ideas about your personal interests such as trips you’d like to take, wine you’d like to taste, project ideas that might be important in the future, etc.
It has to be reviewed and updated regularly if you want to make effective use of it.

Our mind needs space. That’s why we should bundle all important information in a reliable productivity system outside our own heads.

  • create a system of lists and files you can take with you anywhere you go, so that you can be productive even if you’re stuck in an airport or a train station
  • trust your system
  • if you trust your system, your mind will be at ease and able to concentrate fully on the task at hand
  • review all your lists weekly, let’s say on Friday afternoon, and make sure that your system stays functional.

This will allow you to close up for the weekend with a clear head and a sense of control.

Do you want to know my system? Stay tuned for my next article about getting things done!

Flavia Piantino Gazzano

Digital enthusiast and growth hacker, with a strong passion for new technologies, social media and PR. She uses strategic communication as a strong asset in her life and has a creative approach to problem solving.

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