GTD 2006.36: 5 Execution tips

GTD 2006.36: 5 Execution tips.

It's easy – especially for GTD people – to get all wrapped up in the logic, knowledge and formulation of Getting Things Done and not get one damn thing done all day. I've done it, maybe you have too: reorganizing, reprocessing, planning and replanning and oh look! The day is over.

Planning without execution is worth absolutely nothing.

So, today's GTD Tip is focusing on the moment of actually taking a Next Action down off your GTD shelf and getting it done. Here's 5 pointers:

  • Stop tripping yourself up. As David points out, smart people tend to be the biggest procrastinators. You stare into all the ramifications, follow-on tasks, complexities and the rest and before you know it, you're lost. Focus on the here/now getting to completion stuff until you get to completion.
  • Scale your efforts. All tasks are not created equal – consciously decide if the Next Action at the center of your plate should get your work until its perfect absolute best effort or hack it out and move on.
  • Are you starting in the right place? The right place to start is with a Next Action (“a physical, visible activity that needs to be engaged in, in order to move the current reality toward completion.” — David Allen) Beware of projects pretending to be Next Actions and Next Actions that don't move the ball forward.
  • Are you going to end in the right place? Or put another way, do you know specifically what the Desired Outcome is? You should at least have a clear mental picture of it (The trashcan is out at the curb, the server is running and locked down, the chapter is done, etc.)
  • Know where the race ends. Given an actionable Next Action, and a clear mental picture of the Desired Outcome, what's left? Doing the work until you get to completion. Don't underestimate the power of completion: it's huge. And as we live increasingly in a whirling haze of complexity, information and media, both online and off, completion is increasingly rare.

Completions are the bricks that success and the confidence that you can succeed are made out of. Don't shortchange yourself by neglecting the step where you get to a completion, acknowledge it at least to yourself, and give yourself the pat on the back you just earned.  []

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