A day can be short if you have a lot scheduled. Rushing to complete everything will leave you feeling stressed. Maybe you completed some of your tasks, or maybe you were able to complete them all. In any case, we all feel that tightness in our chest when we have to do our mountain of tasks.

So, what if there is a system that helps you manage your time productivity?

We sat down with Philipp Klug and talked about how he, a 22-year-old entrepreneur who found success in a company committed to effectively communicating nutritional science, manages his time.

Read on to learn how this expert manages his time and how David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, helped Philipp find his method to organise his time.

For more information about time investment, you can read this short article on our blog.

What is the Getting Things Done Framework?

Getting Things Done is a fundamental framework that helps you organise and track the tasks you set for yourself. The goal is to offload work from your brain. As a result, your work will be more efficient and better structured than before. While this method requires some time and energy, once you implement it, you will:

  • No longer miss deadlines.
  • Successfully prioritise tasks.
  • Be able to be more spontaneous with the decreased workload.
  • Be more confident in your work and strengthen your mental well-being in the process.

“I’m a big believer in 80/20, meaning that 20% of your efforts will lead to 80% of the desired results. This is specifically true for life and work. So, I was looking into some concepts to narrow down everything  I have to get done.” Philipp said.

By organising your life under this framework, you will be able to proceed with clarity and relieve yourself from a great deal of stress. This allows you to achieve what productivity coach, David Allen, refers to as mind like water. Not only will your workflow benefit, but your personal life and mental well-being will as well.

After all, as noted by David Allen, “A mental and emotional state in which your head is clear, able to create and respond freely, unencumbered with distractions and split focus.”

1. The “In” List: Capture Everything

The “in” List, aka “the inbox”, collects ideas and tasks as they happen. This can be at work when your boss is telling you about a new project you never heard about, or during a walk in a park when you suddenly get a brilliant idea.

Don’t judge your ideas or tasks before capturing them. Everything is welcome and if it isn’t valuable enough you’ll sort it through by going through the next steps. 

The inbox helps you collect the chaos within your head. Remember that this process may not work initially. Though, you can master the process if you stick with it.

How you capture the ideas is up to you. Some use their smartphone notepad, whereas others like traditional pen and paper. Just be sure to keep it short when writing notes down. You’ll be able to remember your ideas or tasks when seeing a few keywords.

The most important thing about this first step is to write down your ideas as they happen. The more time goes by, the higher the chance that other thoughts will intrude. To offload work from your brain, take 30 minutes and collect them all on one page.

Philipp recommends downloading Todoist. This is an app for IOS, android or for your desktop that helps you organise, plan and collaborate. As he said, “It takes me literally five seconds to write something on this list, and it’s always on my computer and my phone.” So, why not give it a try?

2. Processing the “In” List: Clarify Your Thoughts

After collecting your ideas and tasks, go through them one by one. Start with the first one you wrote down and end with the last. The goal of the Getting Things Done Framework is to empty and simplify everything you wrote down in step 1.

Your inbox should look at the following points:

  • Is this item completed within 2 minutes? If so, do it right away
  • Is this item actionable? If not, ask yourself, “Do I really need to do it or not?”

As advised by Philipp, stop holding onto your ideas. That is the worst thing you can do. You risk forgetting them or never getting around to them.

If you think that you could need it down the road, keep it as reference material. If it is needed, measure how much time it will take and what other steps are involved. Then assess:

  • Is this item delegable? If so, assign it to someone you think can manage it.
  • Is this item connected to a deadline? If so, give it a due date
  • Is this item connected to more than one step? If so, create a note that collects all items that need more than one step. Try to identify what process the item needs. Make your tasks as specific as possible to help clarify their purpose

3. The “Next Action” List: Organise, Delegate, and Put Everything into Place

With all your ideas and tasks clarified, it is time to organise them. If you followed step 2, this step is quite simple. To visualise this process, you want to create folders, where you put your clarified items in. This can be done through the following:

One-off tasks: Place items with little action needed here. For example, writing to someone, if they want to meet for lunch. As soon as you hit send, you finished your task, and you offloaded work from your brain.

Projects: These task require more time and steps to be checked off. Write down what you have to do first and what follows after. Projects can be as simple as building a shelf, and as complex as writing a 200-page manual for work.

Items to focus on: Depending on your work and personal life, different things will be important. If you’re unhappy with aspects of your life, you’ll put more thought and workload on your brain that could instead be freed up. Simply write down what you want to achieve, with more focus on your chosen item.

Delegate: Why keep yourself and your brain in constant worry, when you can offload work? Delegating doesn’t mean, that you just put work off to someone else, so you don’t have to worry about it. Everyone has their strengths. If your task requires a skill you’re not blessed with, find someone, within your work, that has an easier time with it. This will not only free up time, but yield a higher quality outcome of the task.

Take it from Philipp, who said, “Getting Things Done dramatically increased my mental well-being and helped me reach a constant calm state of mind to achieve my upcoming challenges.”

Try to keep things simple when organizing, especially if you do it for the first time. There is always the option to go back and switch ideas and tasks into different folders, or to delete them.

4. The “Waiting For” List: Review, Overlook and Revise Your Lists

You put things into place and started to free up time and headspace. But how are things looking? In this step, you look at the items you put into your folders. Take one day each week to review the progress. 

If you complete an item, you can scratch it from the list.

if an item isn’t going anywhere, try to revise your list again. This will help you refocus on what’s important, maintain your workflow, and identify what action needs to happen next.

While using this method for the first time, step 4 can be overwhelming with items stuck in folders where they shouldn’t be. That is normal, just remember, practice makes perfect.

5. Engage: Start With What’s Important

You summarized and organised your items. Now, you can enjoy the fruits of your labour. Everything is put into folders with actionable tasks. The time sink of asking what to do next doesn’t hold you back, since you have a list right in front of you. 

Sort your tasks by a label. Visualise them with colour or bold folds. With visualisation, you know when you have to prioritise a task. You know when your due dates are. Furthermore, you thought out your tasks and gathered reference material. With it, you can work more efficient and quickly.

Learn from what worked and what didn’t. Include the results in your next review. This weekly process will get easier, more efficient, and you will see better results.

Time to Implement the Getting Things Done Framework

We hope that the introduction to the Getting Things Done Framework was helpful. Moreover, we know that it will save you time, and make you more efficient while taking the workload off your brain.

About the author

EWOR is a school conceived by Europe’s top professors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. We educate and mentor young innovators to launch successful businesses.

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