How To Get Things Done - For Busy Providers Of Developmental Disability Services
Providers who serve people with intellectual or developmental disabilities are some of the busiest people I know. They’re always either involved in client related activities, or running from one meeting to another meeting or carrying out an administrative function.
Getting Things Done the book by David Allen is the bible of productivity. The GTD system is effective, simple and timeless. You can do it on paper, online, or now on your smartphone.
This blog borrows very heavily from the article “Getting Things Done Summary” by Niklas Goeke at 4 Minute Books. Here is his high level rundown of the GTD (Getting Things Done) system:
“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them”
You know that horrible feeling you have once you remember you have to reply to your boss’ email?
You can’t seem to un-remember it and it keeps nagging you, while all you’re trying to do is work.
“Email to Cam first thing the morning, email Cam, email Cam, email Cam, email Cam…….”
“Arghhhh……..…brain, shut up!”
With a collection bucket, it will.
Your collection bucket can be a simple piece of paper, a notebook, a note on your phone, or even a physical bucket in your office.
It serves as a means to collect all interruptions, whether they come in the form of thoughts in your mind or to-do’s handed over to you by coworkers.
Whatever lands in your brain or lap while you’re busy working, goes in there.
This lets you deflect interruptions as they occur and keeps your mind from derailing, while you’re on a productivity roll.
Of course this system is only good if you empty your collection bucket or buckets regularly; Allen suggests weekly.
Your brain will only get a feeling of relief from putting something in your collection bucket when it knows that whatever lands in there will be taken care of sooner rather than later.
Here’s the major problem with to-do lists: They trick you into thinking you can know in advance how much you’ll be able to achieve.
The bad news is, you can’t.
Sure, you can make a list with 17 items, but none of that accounts for interruptions, crises, delays, other people or, and this too happens, a simple lack of energy where you’re just not able to do as much.
David Allen suggest you do this instead: Create a “next actions” list, where you list out all the specific tasks (= takes less than 30 minutes) of your current projects.
That way you always know what to work on next, when you have the time and energy to work, meaning you just pull out the list, pick a task and go.
You can even have multiple “next actions” lists and sort them by project or location of where you’re able to do the tasks on it.
For example you could make these lists: laptop with wifi, laptop without wifi, phone, notebook.
Now, when you’re at the airport and your flight’s been delayed, but there’s no wifi and your phone is dead, you can still pull out your notebook list and do something on paper.
“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”
These are just two of several lists in the GTD system and the thing with all lists is this:
They’re only as good as they’re up to date.
Therefore, a weekly review is crucial to making the whole GTD system work.
Empty your collection buckets on Friday afternoon, for example, and then update all your lists. You’ll get a bird’s eye view and make sure everything is complete.
This is the part that makes the whole system stress-free and if you slack on it, you’ll pay the mental price.
For example you may plan to empty your collection bucket on Fridays, but Friday is also payroll day, which may mean you often don’t get around to it. Change the day – Thursday could be your day for emptying the basket!
Otherwise you run the risk of becoming wary of putting more to-dos on your list, as you’re not sure when/whether you’ll actually do them.
Remember you don’t have to follow the GTD system verbatim. You can pick and choose which parts to implement and slowly incorporate more aspects. The main thing is make sure you’re getting more done!! Getting Things Done: works great – but only if you rigorously stick to its rules. It just might be the best productivity system there is, but it’s also demanding and thus very easy to fall off the wagon. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately ‘get it’. Keep trying you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve!
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