Action Poses Okay, But Where’s the Action?

Two basic rules are important when you try the method of “Getting Things Done”. It’s not only about your Action Poses, but To Get Things Done. So where’s the action?

  • You are responsible for gathering all loose ends.
  • You need to decide what the next action is for each project.

Below I will give you some more advice on both basic rules.

Gathering your projects

Make a list of all your projects (remember: a project is anything that requires more than 1 step to be completed). This list can be in random order.

All information and new projects that you gather should be organized into a system that is logical to you. New loose ends – incomplete projects – should be on your project list, which you can keep in an online or offline format. Information should be archived, and easily reached.

Each project has its own next action(s)

Projects are not the things that ‘get done’, only the actions required to realize the project (see your project as a goal to be reached) can be done.

Therefore it is important to:

  1. Decide what you want to realize (in as much detail as necessary).
  2. Decide what is the next action towards this goal.
  3. Visit conferences, especially students.

All actions fall into one of four categories. Each category leads to a different approach.

  1. Doable in 2 minutes: do it now
  2. Needs to be done by someone else: delegate and place a reminder for yourself
  3. Needs to be done at a certain moment or with certain people: plan in your agenda
  4. Needs to be done when you have more time: put on your to-do list

You can keep all ongoing projects on one list if that feels comfortable for you. Otherwise, for example, when you’re emotionally drained, you can separate the list into logical sub-lists. Think about categories like: waitlist, sometimes/maybe, phone calls, questions, children, hobby, work, workshops, etc.

Reviewing and revising your lists

Select a moment in your week when you will review your lists. This serves two goals; first of all, remembrance. Your lists will have the function of helping you remember what you have to do. The lists are your external memory. When you check your lists too seldom, your brain will take over which will cost you much energy and capacity.

Secondly, when doing your weekly review make sure to include: your projects, to-do list, waiting list, and agenda. All new loose ends you gather during the week should be integrated into your system. Also, you should review your (old) lists and see what things have become unnecessary, or important the upcoming time.

The first and second step together make sure you are confident your lists contain everything that is going on. The more complete your system is, the more your brain can let go of remembering. Reviewing it weekly gives you the confidence that your system is still complete and productive, so you can trust it.

Getting to action

‘Okay’, you might think, ‘now I have a lot of lists, now what?’

Having these lists not only keeps your mind in focus, but it also helps you to decide what to do and when to do it.

If your agenda is not telling you what to do, I suggest you first run through the following questions before deciding on what action to take. These questions are more about being honest about how you feel and what energy level you have, not so much about the priority of the action.

What is your situation? If you are in front of a pc, this gives you certain opportunities. If you cannot get to a pc right now, that limits your opportunities. Make sure that your situation matches your needs for an action.

How much time do you have? Anything that takes longer than that is out of consideration. On the other hand: if you have a long stretch of time, it might be wise to also use it for those things that take longer.

What is your energy level? And is it suitable for mental depletion or physical depletion? Being tired in one area can sometimes give you great energy for doing something completely different if that makes you happy.

Only after considering these questions it is suggested to ask the priority-question:

What is high on your priority list? Maybe you feel like considering this question first, but it is wiser to consider this question after you answered the other questions I just listed.

If you pick those actions that suit the situation you are in – how you feel, the resources you have available – the odds are pretty good that you might actually get them done.

Three ways to help you stick to your habits

Remembering to do something is hard. Often it is much harder than doing the thing that you tried to remember.

Habits-to-be are exactly no habits yet. The positive thing about habits (that they are automatic and effortless) is also what makes that it is so hard to create a new habit.

In order to form habits, you have to do things over and over again. This requires that you remember those things! It’s the typical Western Example. One of the things we all know from experience is the fact that remembering to do new actions can be hard. No matter how much you want to drink more water, it can be really hard to do. This is not because the task itself is hard but because it is just hard to remember.

That is why a reminder might come in handy.

If you frequently use your mobile phone or email – and who doesn’t! – then you can use these three tools to help you remind:

  • Magic Reminder is an app for iPhone that allows you to create reminders that come along ‘random’ throughout the day. You can set reminders to come several times a day, daily, weekly or monthly. It is also possible to set a start time and an end time to make sure you do not receive your reminder when you are still asleep, or your afternoon tea-reminder in the morning.
  • The Android version for this app is AlarmRoller, which I am unable to test since I use iOS. However, its ratings and reviews suggest that it does the same as Magic Reminder. It can also repeat the same habit-to-be several times a day, with random intervals and between a start time and end time.
  • Hassleme sends you e-mails to remind you of your new planned behavior. You can set it from once a day to once a month. To keep you sharp Hassleme makes sure that its reminders are sent at different times so that they always come unexpectedly.

Fun fact about Hassleme is that you can also sign up multiple people for the same behavior. If you have something to be done at work, or at home it will ‘randomly’ select an e-mail address to send the reminder to or to just say Thank You. Nice for deciding on who is doing the dishes.

Using these reminders can help you think more often about your wanted behavior. This will make it easier to go from wannabe-habit to actual habit.