Coding with Jesse

Getting Things Done

April 23rd, 2006

Productivity is a hot topic these days, so I thought I'd contribute to the ever-growing mountain of hints and tips with a few things you can do to Get Things Done:

  1. Make a to-do list

    Write down a list of all the things you have to do. When you figure out more things to do, just add them to the list. I just use notepad for my list.

  2. Prioritise your list

    You don't actually have to write down the priorities somewhere. It's probably pretty obvious, so you just need to keep it in mind. The key is to do higher priority things first. For example: Finish the project your boss keeps asking about - high priority. Catch up on 2035 unread blog posts - low priority.

  3. Go do the things on your list

    Seriously. Right now. Go do them. Don't even read the rest of this article. Go. Now. Do the dishes, or go back to work, or write that blog post or whatever it is you have to do. I'm not kidding. Close your browser.

  4. Try not to spend 3 hours a day reading productivity tips

    Think of all the things you could get done with the time you spend trying to figure out how to get all these things done. Actually, nevermind, don't think about it.

I hope these tips are useful to you. Actually, if you're reading this far they obviously haven't been. So, seriously, either go back to work or just give up on being productive altogether. Whichever one is fine with me.

Do It Now

November 29th, 2005

Talk about synchronicities. The day after I linked to some motivation quotes, my favourite blogger, Steve Pavlina, puts up a new article entitled Do It Now. It's 8000 words, so if you have some time now give it a read, or you might want to bookmark it for later. Steve's writing is a pleasure to read, and he written many great points on personal motivation and productivity in the past that he has seemed to incorporate into this article.

It's also worth mentioning that Steve has recently managed to change his sleeping habits and become a polyphasic sleeper. This means he sleeps for 25 minutes every 4 hours (a total of less than 3 hours a day!) If you're at all interested in this, go check out his journal logs and the rest of his website.

[Update: The synchronicities didn't stop there. I just noticed that on Success Begins Today, John updated his earlier motivation post with a followup entitled Success: Just Do It. It must be Determination Week!]

Motivation is a Trap

November 28th, 2005

Over on Success Begins Today, John Richardson put up some great Quotations by John Maxwell:

"The whole idea of motivation is a trap. Forget motivation. Just do it. Exercise, lose weight, test your blood sugar, or whatever. Do it without motivation. And then, guess what? After you start doing the thing, that’s when the motivation comes and makes it easy for you to keep on doing it."

"As you begin changing your thinking, start immediately to change your behavior. Begin to act the part of the person you would like to become. Take action on your behavior. Too many people want to feel, then take action. This never works."

This reminds me a lot of the time I was going to university. I'd spend hours searching and reading articles on the Internet about beating procrastination. I was spending so much time trying to figure out how to get the motivation to do the things I wanted to do.

Eventually, I realised the only way to Get Things Done was to just do them! I don't know what other solution I thought I would find.

Nowadays, I love reading all the tips and tricks for Getting Things Done. It seems like everyone is obsessed with productivity and anti-procrastination. But I also worry that people are spending all their time configuring their Hipster PDA or organising emails in Outlook instead of just working on the things that need to get done.

Now, before you cry "Blasphemy!", I think the principals of Getting Things Done are really great. More or less, I've been applying them for many years. Basically, I keep a file, todo.txt, with everything I need to get done. I have one at home and one at work. I separate it into sections like so:

Main Project

sub project
- thing to do
    - detail on that thing
        - sub detail
    - another detail
- another thing to do

And if I ever forget what my Next Action is, I just take a look in the file. But I don't feel I need to do a lot of the other things, like reviewing, or some kind of inbox. I guess I'm just not as busy as some people, I usually have a good idea of all the things I have to do without it causing me stress.

Anyway, these quotes make a great point: finding ways to motivate yourself is a waste of time. If you're going to do anything, go do the thing you need to do.