"The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order." – Alfred North Whitehead

Do You Want to Boost Your Personal Productivity?

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Making It All Work

To live an effective life we need to make things happen and, to do so, we should be able to engage with our world in a way that allows us to get the experiences we are looking for.

Over the last century, countless approaches have been developed to achieve this, yet most often they were partial approaches related only to the professional realm. What was missing was a model of effectiveness that encompassed the world to which each individual relates as a whole, including all its parts.

Work is not just being employed in a company. Housework, raising children, contributing to the local community, enjoying hobbies and all that sort of thing… all of that is work.

And facing our work, whatever its nature, can be overwhelming or it can be fun. The difference is in knowing the purpose, the limits, and the rules of each game you have to play. When these issues are not known or are not clear, work generates stress and we tend to perform ineffectively. When we know all the parameters, life can be a game.

David Allen says that the game of work and the business of life are the same thing. Ultimately, you need a system of trust to apply and align your thoughts with your resources and to be able to face your work with clarity, be it business, family relationships, personal wellness issues, entertainment, etc.

When you internalize the habits necessary to be effective in your professional work, you can apply them consistently to any aspect of your personal life, and vice versa.

The GTD five-step workflow is the most effective way to have control over your environment. These steps allow you to properly manage all your commitments, transforming all the things you allow into your life into a real set of actions and results that you can review at any time.

You (1) capture what has your attention, (2) clarify what each thing means and what to do about it, (3) organize the results, which present the (4) options on which you reflect, and (5) among those you choose to engage with.

Likewise, assessing the six horizons of focus that make up your life allows you to have your priorities straight and make the best possible decisions as to where to place your attention in each moment of your life.

(1) The purpose is what gives meaning to your life, (2) the vision is the image of yourself that you would like to project in the not-too-distant future, three to five years, (3) your goals are the achievements you want to reach in the medium term, usually in one or two years, both in life and work, (4) areas of focus are the different facets of your life and work that you want to improve or maintain at a good level, (5) projects are any outcome that requires more than one action to achieve, (6) and actions are all those things you need to do to build on the higher levels.

Understanding the GTD workflow and its horizons of focus is the basis for applying the method and obtaining the most direct benefits of stress-free productivity: more control, energy, focus, and creativity.

However, there is still a big gap between the understanding of these concepts and their implementation. Many details escape at first glance and GTD practitioners polish and improve over the years, not without first falling off the wagon several times (applying knowledge well requires effort, there are no magic pills for this).

The principles underlying this methodology have implications that go beyond a personal organization system. Getting Things Done is almost a philosophy of life.

There is still a lot to do, many nuances to understand and some layers of knowledge to open and expand. In the next articles I am going to focus on the book Making it all work, the book that follows Getting Things Done, in which David Allen tries to delve into the methodology and create a map through which anyone can improve their skills to properly manage both their personal and professional lives in unison. I look forward to seeing you there!

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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