David Allen's Five Steps To Optimising Focus

Productivity guru David Allen -- he of the popular Getting Things Done productivity system -- writes at the New York Times about how for many of us technology seems like it's overwhelming and damaging our productivity. His solution: a five-step approach to prioritising your focus.

As Allen lays it out, technology can help us accomplish previously huge tasks in smaller amounts of time, but that means that workers are responsible for an increasing list of tasks, and the result is an often overwhelmed workforce. Allen's solution will look familiar to those conversant with GTD, which many of you are. The quick version looks a little like this:

  1. Grab a notebook and dump every task begging for your attention.
  2. Expand on the outcome you want from each item. Allen's previously mentioned two-minute rule applies here -- if you can cross any of these tasks off your list in two minutes, you should do it now.
  3. Set up reminders for everything left in your list.
  4. Review and update your tasks weekly. (Allen suggests two hours every week.)
  5. Having captured your tasks thusly, "deploy your attention and resources appropriately".

That last bit may read a little like "Step 5: ? Step 6: Success!", but the basic idea is that the biggest obstacle to managing your time and resources is simply a matter of not having a solid idea of everything you're responsible for, and that having captured and organised all of those tasks, you'll be able to make better decisions about how you spend your time.

Check out the full post for more details, and if you're a die-hard GTDer, let's hear how Allen's system works for you (particularly regarding focusing your resources) in the comments. Photo by ostill.

When Office Technology Overwhelms, Get Organized [NYT]

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