Getting Things Done - GTD

The Key to Getting the Job Done: Action and Reflection

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
tags Engage Reflect Perspective
"Figure out where you want to go; then work backwards from there." ~ Steven Pressfield

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The Key to Getting the Job Done: Action and Reflection

Steven Pressfield in his book "Do The Work says that the process of doing any creative work, whether it is writing a book, composing a song, preparing a trip, developing a product or creating a company, basically consists of two stages: Acting and reflecting.

These two stages are cyclically repeated and should not be carried out at the same time. Act, reflect. Act, reflect. Act, reflect.

Acting means doing the actual work: writing, composing, programming, designing, etc. Reflecting means evaluating what you’ve done so far and thinking about how you’re going to deal with what’s left to do. Reflecting is key to gain control and learning, and it’s not something you necessarily have to do by yourself. If you are working in a team or have a mentor or coach, you will get more benefits if you do that reflection together with them.

Depending on the type of project you are undertaking and the stage you are in, you should make more or less use of each of these stages.

When you are starting a creative project, you should act a lot and reflect little. It’s about avoiding that resistance that will undoubtedly try to sink your inner genius. “Are you crazy, who’s going to care about your work?”.

You’re writing a draft, designing a prototype, testing… You don’t know what your creature is going to look like yet, so you have to release everything you have inside you onto paper – or whatever medium you use for this first phase. Follow your instinct and don’t think too much about it. Now you don’t want your possibilities and opportunities to be diminished because of your doubts and prejudices. You want to see how far your idea takes you.

Once you start, the same work you do generates the energy needed to overcome that resistance and encourage you to continue. It’s the law of inertia. Now it’s a matter of taking advantage of that momentum. Keep working, every day, steadily.

Once the project has been launched, you must begin to balance the phases of acting and reflecting. Now you have to think more and do less. From time to time — at least once a week — you have to stop and raise your head, to check that everything you are doing is taking you where you wanted to go.

A personal management system like GTD (Getting Things Done) will help you maintain that balance. GTD is not only focused on defining tasks and projects to be done. Elements such as goals and areas of focus allow you to link your day-to-day work with higher horizons. And tools such as the Weekly Review, Mind Sweep and Natural Project Planning give you all the reflection you need.

As you go along, doubts, problems and options will arise that you will have to face in order to continue with guarantees of success. Think about it. And act. Act and reflect.

Francisco Sáez

Francisco is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a Software Engineer who is passionate about personal productivity and the GTD philosophy as a means to a better life.

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