Getting Things Done: How To Decide What To Do, When

When it comes to getting things done at work, how do you go about it? Do you write down a list, type it in a document, use sticky notes? What do you do to make sure you are getting things done throughout your workday?

Recently, CEO Joanna Pineda and CTO Maki Kato held a Friday Forum, which is a learning session held during lunch by one of the Matrix Group staff members, about what they’ve learned from reading the book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity,” by David Allen. They did a great job of summarizing the information from the book, and many of their suggested approaches for how to get tasks done more quickly, efficiently, and effectively in the workplace were eye-opening to me.

My #1 takeaway: How to decide what to do, and when.

In the book, David Allen suggests asking the following questions to help you determine which tasks you should tackle at any given time:

  • How much time do you have? 2 hours? 30 minutes between meetings? All afternoon?
  • What is your context? Where are you? The office, house, car, gym, etc. and what tools do you have to use to accomplish this task?
  • What is your energy level? Maybe there’s a task that should only take you 30 minutes, but it requires a lot of mental energy, and it’s 4:30pm on a Friday. But, you have two other tasks that should only take 15 minutes each, and are easy breezy. Focus on those tasks.
  • What is the priority list? When are my deadlines? What do I need to get done this morning, today, by the end of the week, or the end of the month?

So now, at the beginning of the day, I take a look at my list and my calendar, and then ask myself these questions so I can formulate a plan of how, and when, I will knock out all of the tasks on my plate. It’s been a game-changer for my productivity.

Keep in mind that energy level is key, though! Sometimes I may have a task on my plate that will only take 30 minutes, and it’s planned into my day between my afternoon meetings, but it’s a task that takes a lot of concentration. The 2:30 slump arrives and in that state of mind the 30 minute task may take me more like 45 minutes to an hour to complete. In that case, it may be better for me to focus on one of my other 30 minute tasks that requires less mental energy.

One more quick tip I learned – review your email once an hour, not every 5 minutes, to avoid distraction.

Have you read Getting Things Done? What is one of your top productivity hacks?

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About Nick Exposito

Nick is the Marketing Coordinator and New Biz Air Traffic Controller at Matrix Group. He graduated from Seton Hill University were he also played football - Go Griffins! When he’s not at the office you can find him at the gym, coaching, watching a movie, attending a concert or sporting event, traveling, fishing, or relaxing on the beach. Nick is a huge Pittsburgh sports fan, and thinks that Rocky is the greatest movie ever made (despite the fact that they chose to set the movie in the second best Pennsylvanian city…)

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