I've read David Allen's "Getting things done" before, and yesterday I wanted to refresh my memory regarding the productivity tips it offers. So I skimmed through the book for a couple of hours. I think that I'm better at organization than I was in the past, so most of the tips in the book were quite obvious. However, I still gleaned a few interesting insights I want to file here for future review:
  • Tasks stay on your mind and make you worry mainly because they're unclear. Replace vague topics by concrete goals that can be acted upon. For example, if a part of your todo list now looks like:
    • Foo
    • Bar
    Replace it by:
    • Talk to Joe about implementing Foo
    • Bar: read about super Widgets
    • Bar: implement a mega Widget for patch 12
    • Bar: do a code review
  • Some relevant quotes: "This constant, unproductive preoccupation with all the things we have to do is the single largest consumer of time and energy". and "It is easier to act yourself into a better way of feeling than to feel yourself into a better way of action"
  • You should periodically sort and empty your master to-do list. Emptying it doesn't necessarily mean doing everything on it. Rather, all the items on the list have to be assorted to more specific locations, like a calendar, per-project to-do lists and so on. Keeping a lot of stuff on the master list for long periods of time is counterproductive.
  • Weekly reviews of your tasks and goals are very important. No matter how well we try to organize ourselves, work often gets too hectic to follow a clearly defined plan all the time. A weekly review is a method to keep it all under control in the long run. Once a week, take some time to review all your pending tasks and to-do lists and set up more concrete goals for the week to come.