Years ago, I tried reading and implementing David Allen’s Getting Things Done system, with hit-or-miss success. Although I gave up on much of the David Allen GTD system, one of my favorite books is by him.
“Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Getting Things Done” is built on short doable chapters, with lots of strategy, plus some reflective thinking about what’s important. A daily (or every couple of days) reading of a chapter is easy to get through, and you’ll be able to implement small changes without feeling overwhelmed.
“Where, exactly, should you start when feeling uninspired or stuck?” is a question asked in David’s recent newsletter. His answer?
Yes, anywhere. And it’s very likely when any one thing is executed, it will create a reverberation effect and spread to other parts. It’s a holistic model—i.e., any piece can be worked, and it will add to the whole.
- Write down what’s on your mind. This is an obvious one, if you’re familiar with GTD at all. But for beginners and even sophisticated practitioners, it’s a recurring refrain: unload! Even if you take a mere three minutes and jot down the top-of-mind things rattling around in there, you’re doing great.
- Clean a drawer. No kidding. It’s one of the best therapies in the world for getting back in your psychological driver’s seat. And, unless you just moved into a new place this morning, there is always a drawer to clean.
- Get a piece of cool gear. A new notepad, a fountain pen or slick-writing ballpoint, some new app you saw someone using really productively, a shredder, a labeler, an executive-like in-tray, plastic folders or envelopes…whatever floats your boat that indicates better or more capturing or organizing. Good toys can be magical in this regard.
- Tackle one pile. There’s likely at least one stack of stuff somewhere in your environment that you’ve gone somewhat numb to, but you know it contains things to be sorted and organized—trashed, filed, or curated for next actions or projects.
- Delete one email folder. Surely there’s at least one that is outdated that you can dump.
- Purge a filing drawer. Similar to, but a bit more rigorous than dealing with a pile, this can often make a big dent in getting your act more together. Everything in your drawers and filing containers belonged there at one time, but time itself changes the meaning of much of it. Crap self-generates, it doesn’t self-destruct.
- Do a two-minute-action walk-around. Get up and walk around your office or home looking for anything that needs doing that you can use the two-minute rule for. Change the light bulb. Tighten that whatever with a screwdriver. Raise or lower a seat. Straighten that painting. Put those boots where they really belong.
- Define and take the next action on one new cool thing to do. A vacation spot to explore, a creative pastime to start, a special event to put together.
You’ll be surprised how doing any of the above activities will start to get your productive juices flowing. Look for easy wins that will build momentum to more challenging victories.
“There is no such thing as a long piece of work,
except one that you dare not start.”