Control and PerspectiveAUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
“You’ve got to think about the big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” ~ Alvin Toffler
One of the most controversial points for those who are new to the GTD methodology (Getting Things Done) is the apparent absence of priorities to classify the actions to be performed every day. This happens because traditional management systems, both personal and business, were based on the arbitrary assignment of priorities to each of the projects or actions to be performed, and one expects any organizational system to allow you to classify with a letter or a number, or some form of prioritization, each of your tasks.
Modern personal organization tools approach task prioritization from a different perspective. It is not so much about managing tasks or time as it is about managing ourselves. It’s about knowing what’s really important in the medium or long term to know where we need to put our attention in the short term.
GTD seeks to achieve this balance by combining horizontal control with a vertical perspective.
Horizontal control is achieved through a five-step workflow that you should use in your day-to-day life to take control of your life: capture, clarify, organize, reflect and act. This horizontal focus allows you to maintain consistency and fluidity in all your daily activities.
It’s about clearly defining your desired outcomes, your projects, and the next actions needed to achieve them, and creating reminders in a reliable system that you review regularly.
But for this control to make sense, you need to see things from a higher perspective, also called vertical control or vertical focus.
This vertical control is achieved through the Six-Level Model for Reviewing Your Own Work, which allows you to find out which are the foundations that should determine your personal and professional life and, thanks to this, to have clear the priorities that should govern your decisions. It’s a hierarchical model of priorities in which each level must be aligned with the higher ones: actions, projects, focus areas, goals, vision, and purpose.
The vertical focus provides you with the necessary perspective to align your daily actions with the real priorities of your life. The main problem with any other methodology, or using no methodology at all, is that we focus on control and forget about perspective. If we simply dedicate ourselves to doing all the things that land in our life, we’ll be very busy people, but not productive. We’ll be wasting our time doing the urgent things instead of the important ones.
True productivity is achieved when we balance control and perspective. If you are clear at all times about what’s important to you, you probably won’t need to assign a priority to every action on your list.