Monday, May 31, 2010

Reflections on Get ‘er Done Week

I’ve felt extremely overwhelmed with ‘to-dos’ since I returned from New York. So I decided to dedicate this past week to an experiment in Getting Things Done. I didn’t adhere to all the lists and paperwork of the GTD system ( but did apply the long-term outlook to prioritizing what to work on.

After a week of getting things done–large and small, short-term and long-term–I have mixed feelings. I did make progress on some long-term goals, but didn’t do a lot of the little things. Which seems good, except that not doing the little things (keeping up with emails, cleaning house, etc.) eventually turns into a big thing. By Friday, I did achieve clarity in which little things I could postpone or not do, so I was able to get those off my plate.

The best thing about the week is what I learned about myself and how I work:
°         I got a lot done during days at work with no meetings. I was able to concentrate and focus and make good progress. Of course, I do have to attend meetings and am brainstorming how I can focus during the hours-long planning meetings and how to keep from getting distracted when there is a long technical discussion.
°         I want and need a day a week dedicated to staying home and writing. I can tackle some of the little chores if I need a break, but if I’m in the researching/writing groove, I can just stay with it.
°         I am more open to running errands and meeting up with friends if I am already at the office. If I’m home, I like to stay home and if I’m out, I like staying out.

How do you handle that overwhelmed feeling? What do you do to make sure you’re getting the important things done?


  1. aggiemomcpa8:08 PM

    Getting the important things done? What is important to one person may not be to another. So here's what I do:
    1. Make a master to-do list
    2. Determine whether the items are one-time only, or frequent and how often it needs to be done, then be realistic. I would like to clean my house every week from top to bottom, but I would get nothing else done. So plan for daily/weekly and monthly cleaning jobs and if something really bothers me I do it. If all else fails, hire a housekeeper. However, I've seen the damage that they can do as well.
    3. Schedule errand days where you are out of the house most of the day and map out your errands for the most efficient (UPS - right turns only) way to get them accomplished. One day, I had 17 errands to run and got them all done in a matter of hours due to proper planning.
    4. Plan for days that you won't get anything done - down time. If you've had a full weekend traveling or entertaining family/friends, Monday is a recovery/regroup day. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt that you can't operate at 100% all of the time and be happy with 70% with bursts of 100%. Much like interval work when you are training. You'll still make progress.
    5. If you can't get going on a project, set a timer for 20 minutes. You'll be surprised at what you can get done in that time and it may be the impetus to keep going.
    6. Enlist family to help you to, but set clear expectations about what you want them to do and by when it is to be done. If there is something on the list that no one wants to do or has the skill set to do, then agree to hire it out.
    7. Keep the master to-do list and cross things off as you complete them. When you get in a rut and feel like you haven't accomplished anything, go look at the list and acknowledge the progress you've made.
    And finally, remember to stop and smell the roses. If you've been working hard and it is an exceptionally beautiful day, go for a walk, surprise your spouse with a picnic lunch/dinner or just give thanks for the beauty of the day. I don't recall anyone every making a death bed wish that they'd spent more time cleaning house!

  2. For implementing GTD you can use this web-based application:

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    Comes with a mobile version too, and with an Android app.

  3. Glad you got clarity! I all about CHUNKING like activities--so I'll chunk a bunch of out-of-office meetings in a single day, because, like you, I LOVE LOVE LOVE a day uninterrupted by meetings. I'm most productive on those days because I am most focused. Thanks for sharing your learning experience.