It’s amazing how quickly things can pile up. How many projects are waiting for you to complete? How many simple tasks are weighing on your mind that, for one reason or another, you simply can’t (or won’t) get to today? How many times do you catch yourself thinking about one thing while you’re in the middle of another? For me, it’s never more evident than when I’m reading. I can’t tell you how many times I’m reading something and I realize that I have no idea what I just read because I was daydreaming about what else needs to be done.
One of the most powerful things I learned from David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, is that every time something new crosses my plate, I need to decide what the next action needs to be in order to move it forward. I became paralyzed – thinking about all the things I had to do without actually thinking how to take care of them. My only recourse was to procrastinate. There’s nothing like a round or two or ten (“I promise this is my last game”) of Angry Birds to shut off my mind.
Allen urges us to decide what the next action must be in order to move us forward. While I try to implement this process, I find it relieving to organize all of these next actions into a system. So, whenever I get something new in my inbox, I make two decisions very quickly. First, I decide if it’s something that requires action. If not, I file it away (more often than not, into the circular filing basket – aka the garbage can). If an action does need to be taken, I decide exactly what action needs to be taken and I’ll move it from my email and create that Next Action in my IQTELL Workspace. I also have all my email accounts (work, Gmail, and my old Yahoo account) in IQTELL so it’s easier to move anything to my Next Action box. Once I add that action to my list, I can move on with my day.
These two decisions rarely take more than 30 seconds to make. With those 30 seconds, I save myself countless minutes of aimless doubt and worry throughout the day thinking about all the unfinished items hovering over my head. Saving that time, and the ability to stop procrastinating, has earned me about an extra hour each day of productive time (but, don’t tell my boss – he’ll just give me more things to do!)
Now, I have my extra hour but equally important – I am much more relaxed. Life seems just a bit easier. So, I’d like to tell you I spend my time trying to end world hunger, but mostly, I surf the net checking out the movies that are coming out. If that ever gets boring, I mix it up with a few MORE games on Angry Birds! Once my girlfriend reads this blog, I guess I’ll be encouraged to visit the gym more often. What would you do with an extra hour each day?
* GTD® is a registered trademark of the David Allen Company. IQTELL is not affiliated with the David Allen Company.