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Embrace GTD and Gain Momentum


The last two weeks for me have been a time for experimentation.  I attempted to put a few changes into my work style, I pulled back on my blogging, on my blog reading and noticeably increased my productivity.  I found different ways of getting things done and I met an old friend – momentum.  

When things go bad, they can go horribly bad and life seems to spin out of control.   Note the key word in the last sentence – seems.  Seems is an interesting word in that phrase, but to use another cliche – nothing is always as it seems.

I am a firm believer that no matter how bad a day may seem or appear, we always have a choice on how we respond to it.  For those of us who wish to be both creative while productive, there is a solution to turning things around from bad to good and I believe it to be momentum.  

Think about the worst day you’ve had and what made it so?  Did you have ANY control over how that day went – any control over how you chose to respond to it?  Were there things you could have done differently to transfer the burdens of the day to another time?  Of course there were!  A meeting with the boss that went south, a burdensome project due in a few days, you name it – we’ve all been there.  So when that day occurs, how do we respond?  Then more than ever you must embrace a philosophy like GTD to get your mind away from a panic mode and into one of a productive mode – determining the next action(s). And when you embrace your overwhelming project by breaking it down to its next action, delegating the work, putting timelines to it all, you soon find that in the mix you have magically shifted your…momentum.  

It’s time for some hard love:  Stop making excuses for why you can’t get things done.  Too much email, too many voicemails, too many meetings, blah, blah, blah.  Do something about it!  Say no.  And don’t be afraid to.  Wait longer between email responses or voicemail responses so you can batch your responses and keep your focus on a task at hand.  But let’s go back to the bad day you’re having.  At the end of it all, try this:  Lay out the project you were given (or projects), determine your next action steps, priorities and where you will pick up or begin the next day.  Is that so hard?  I like to use index cards because as I get something done on my list I can throw that card away and feel accomplishment (momentum).  Put a note on your computer that tomorrow’s email WILL wait until 10 AM or even later.  Email is a facade that takes us off the mark, so be the boss and manage it better.  Then enjoy the feeling you get as you go home – that you’re ready for tomorrow, you’re ready to take on the new challenge you’ve been assigned and how you will accomplish more before 10 AM than you’ve ever done before.  Imagine the feeling of security as you go home knowing that you’ve laid out tomorrow’s project, you know where to begin and how you managed to make a bad day a good day.  You’ve started some momentum.

The following day you keep that momentum rolling.  You get to work (maybe even earlier than normal because you have greater confidence on what you’re going to be doing on your project).  Your mood is improved ten-fold over the previous day.  You grab some coffee, fire up the computer and sit down.  You see your notes, you instantly recall where you left off and what you need to do – and then you get crackin’.  In the blink of an eye you see it’s 10 AM and you realize how much you’ve gotten done.  Sound nice?  You found your groove.  And it’s doable, too, isn’t it?  What’s even better is that since you got so much done, you can then think to carry this forward to tomorrow.  In the meantime you know there are pending emails you should respond to, but you feel better responding to them because you got the big part of your workday out of the way.  As you’re doing your emails you’re feeling confident.  As you’re doing your voicemails you’re feeling confident.  And when you see your boss, you’re feeling confident because you nailed your assignment and you had more fun doing it.  

OK…so that’s a perfect picture of momentum.  Of course that could all be spoiled by a few interruptions, a new assignment that came on top of the one you were given the day before, etc.  Manage it.  Manage the interruptions by turning off the phone or putting a sign on your door – or doing your work off-site if you’re able.  A newer assignment came in – but you can’t do two things at the same time, simply file it until you’re done with the other.  Cut any co-worker interruptions short and tell them you can talk at lunch after you have finished your report.  Manage it.  On your calendar, don’t just use it for meetings – schedule yourself time to get your projects done.

Whenever you read this, try to set yourself up for the next day incorporating all that’s mentioned here.  Manage the interruptions and find your groove.  It’s closer than you think.  And then so is the joy in the work you do. 


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