Friday, November 25, 2011

Why I Recommend You Record And Time The Five Phases Of GTD Workflow

There's a saying that time is money. Actually time is more valuable than money because time expires and you can always earn more money. Because of this, I think it's critical that you start recording the time it takes to do the things in your GTD system. Start recording how long it takes you to collect, process, organize, do and review the things that come into your system.

I say this because the bulk of the time you spend in your life should be on doing or relaxing. So the sooner you get the other phases done the better.

I know that it's easy to spend time tinkering and tweaking your GTD system. I know it's fun to make sure it's all neat and organized. And I also know what a pain it is to actually do the things in my system. My goal though is to get what I have to get done out of the way so I can enjoy the things I really want to do.

The problem I always had was that I spent too much time wasting my time. I still took the time to do the things I wanted to do but it came with the nagging feeling that I didn't do what I needed too. I worried about it.

The goal in my life is to obtain free time. Not just any free time - worry free free time. Time that I can do doing the things I want to do.

But where I always struggled was that I put off what I had to do and tried to steal time from other areas of my life to make up for it.

The solution for me was doing a better job of "defining" what done looks like and writing it down. Once I did that, it was much easier to get a handle on the job at hand. The process I used to define what done looked like for me was to study everything I did and write down every step into a daily checklist no matter how trivial.

Once I did that, I knew for example, everything I needed to do collect things into my system. Because I took the time to figure out all the steps required, I knew what the beginning looked like PLUS I knew what the END looked like as well.

But while doing that was a major breakthrough for me, going one additional step made it even more important. That step was to time how long it took me to get through each thing I needed to do.

Using my collection phase again as an example, I would write down the time I started and finished. Then I would try and figure out how to reduce the time required.

This type of technique is done most often in sports. World records are measured in time in running, swimming, skiing and more. We can apply this philosophy to our work as well. In fact, I think it's a good idea to look at your work as sport. Practice time would be the four phases of GTD workflow - collection, processing, organizing and reviewing.

Doing would be considered game time.

By determining how you practice and how efficiently you practice, you can improve your doing because you will be more focused.

This starts with measuring first what a practice session looks like and secondly by measuring how long practice should last.

Make a checklist of your daily activities and start measuring how long it takes to do it. Then work to improve your list and then work to improve your time it takes to complete it.

Only after you do that can you determine how efficient you can really be.
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