Jul 102013

Ever since interviewing Andrew Miner on Getting Things Done last year, I’ve been working on improving my own personal method of “Getting Things Done.” (If you don’t know what “Getting Things Done” is… go read the book, Getting Things Done, pronto!) I’ve pared down my projects to focus on what’s most important to me, and I’ve also made excellent progress on a slew of long-delayed mini-projects.

In the process, I’ve learned that I usually need to be very, very concrete about my task list. Every item in my task list must be a single, clear, delimited action — otherwise, when I have time to make progress on some project, I won’t know what I need to do next. So I don’t register “update archive generation script” or “clean and oil tack” or “post The Paleo Rodeo” as single tasks any more. Instead, they’re projects, each containing four to six tasks.

I was worried that doing that would make my GTD system more complicated, even unmanageable. Instead, it seems simpler because I don’t need to repeatedly re-think what I need to do to advance my goals. Instead, I can just chip away at the next action, again and again.

So if the tasks required to accomplish some goal aren’t crystal clear to you, then perhaps try taking a few minutes to figure out what actions you need to do to make progress. If you’re too busy for that, just add “plan project” as your first task! That seems to make a huge dent in my tendency to procrastination.

In case you’ve not heard my interview with Andrew Miner about “Getting Things Done,” you can listen to or download the podcast here:

For more details, check out the episode’s archive page.

Note: I published a version of the above commentary in Philosophy in Action’s Newsletter a while back. Subscribe today!

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