🧠 Second Brain
Getting Things Done (GTD)
Up until now, we managed ideas and knowledge, which enlarges the Second Brain and how to link our thoughts. Besides this, much anxiety and stress come from not being on top of your tasks, jobs, things you might want to do, ideas, and lists you want to read. The to-dos you put yourself somewhere on a post-it, a todo app, or anywhere else. I also tried to incorporate to-dos in my note-taking apps but never succeeded. It works best for me when having a dedicated tool and workflow.
To prove that, I tried all possible apps there is out there from Wunderlist, Remember the Milk, Any.do, Todoist, Trello, Simple List, Google Tasks to Microsoft Todo. But none of them did the trick BECAUSE they missed the deeper methodology or framework. So what worked, you might ask? The book by Getting Things Done by David Allen had it all and clicked for me. To start with, you can follow these two simple steps:
- asking yourself: What’s the next action?
- finish every task you can do within 2 minutes immediately
Overview of the steps in the GTD Workflow | Lifehack
Another big one was the separation between adding a task to an Inbox versus reviewing each task and asking the above next action question. This way, during capturing, I could focus on saving the tasks as quickly as possible, and in the reviewing face, I’d use a different part of my brain to make more profound thoughts on how to accomplish it or directly do it if lesser than 2 minutes. This differentiation many of us ignore, and we add tasks such as “do tax” and “change tires”. Instead, we could add actionable tasks such as “call accountant for a date”, “collect payslip”, or “call garage for appointment”.
As you can see, they are multiple times less stressful, and we can do it quickly, whereas the first one usually stays in our todo-apps for months and stresses us out every day.
There are other critical points such as putting the next action into different lists such as “Next, waiting, scheduled or someday/maybe”. By adding tags such as #calls #atcomputer and others, you have a powerful way to filter all your tasks by the physical location where you can do them all in a row. There are more such filters, such as adding an energy level (low, medium, high) to pick tasks on a low energy phase or maybe a hard one in the morning after a good sleep. These are assigned to a project and categorised further into personal/work, which helps quickly find the relevant tasks.
In an app such as NirvanaHQ, this looks something like this:
Properties when creating a new Todo in Nirvana | Image by the Author
There’s much more to the GTD method. For example, the five steps, the first capturing to the fifth engaging, and how to integrate the higher-level goals into the system. I suggest reading the Getting Things Done - David Allen as it can make a big difference in your life.
I found that above mentioned NirvanaHQ implements the method the best way for me. There is no distraction as it hasn’t calendar integrations, no image upload, or no fancy emojis. I used Todoist last and tried to implement the GTD method until I switched for the same reasons mentioned in My thoughts on changing to Nirvana.
The more human and overall goal is to put everything into an external system as your brain doesn’t do well storing/remembering things. By writing everything down, you will feel relieved. The challenge is to keep your system up-to-date so that the brain trusts it. That you won’t think: “Oh, I need to remember this because the system is not trustworthy”.
The Calendar itself can hold to-dos. Instead of cluttering your todo app with tasks a long time in the future. Put them in the calendar when it’s important and add them when they trigger at a specific time. The key is to have a trusted calendar same as the todo app.
Six Horizons of Focus
Another one is to integrate The 6 Horizons of Focus into your projects and to-dos. Which makes sure your 2-3 and 5-year long-term goals are respected, and you always have them in the back of your mind and to-dos.j
Another related term called Done, and Gets Things Smart is worthwile to check out.
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