Does this sound familiar?… No matter how well you plan your day, the day seems to get away from you and at the end of it you never seem to finish all of the tasks you anticipated finishing? This is the story of my life! It feels out of control. Thankfully there’s a way out – it’s called “GTD” (Getting Things Done), a time management, or more appropriately, life management methodology developed by best-selling author David Allen. This methodology is outlined in great detail in Getting Things Done, which is one of my all-time favorite business books.
Recently I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with David Allen for a fascinating discussion. I asked him for solutions to the problems that still plagued me, despite being an enthusiastic student of GTD (I’ve written about GTD on multiple occasions).
David gives some some excellent answers on how to…
- eliminate time-stealing distractions,
- how avoidance affects success,
- how crisis negatively impacts your ability to think intelligently,
- how sometimes waiting until the last minute is the best way to get things done,
- the importance of emptying your email inbox,
- the usefulness of virtual assistants,
- and how the biggest barrier to self-expression and self-actualization is our own selves.
“You can’t manage time,” David said. “You actually only manage what you do during time. So the management issue is not so much about time, it’s more about how you manage your focus, how you manage your actions and your activities in terms of what you do. That’s one of the problems with that whole field of time management — they mislabel the problem. Because they label the problem as time, everyone thinks that the calendar is going to be your solution, and it isn’t.”
In a deadline-driven, time-sensitive, stress-filled world, having the right strategies to deal with your myriad of responsibilities is essential to avoiding burnout and remaining permanently productive. With some elements of your professional life, David’s advice is simple to apply, such as merely paying attention to what has your attention. With other things, you may find yourself facing off against tightly-held, self-destructive habits and behaviors that will prove difficult to disown.