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Stop worrying, and just get things done
By Anuradha Weeraman profile image Anuradha Weeraman
3 min read

Stop worrying, and just get things done

Two years ago, I pulled out my dusty copy of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” and decided to do a another skim through. Things were getting out of hand and I really needed to get my act together in managing the daily barrage of endless activity. It was during that reading that things somewhat clicked and I decided to come up with my own personalized system to get things under control.

Here are a few things that I’ve learnt during the journey.

Write things down

Despite millions of years of evolution, our brains really aren’t that good at keeping concurrent threads of thought. What they’re really good at is reminding us of things we have to do at the least opportune moment. Both of these “attributes” is the primary cause of stress in our lives as we attempt to valiantly juggle a multitude of threads, and even fool ourselves into thinking that we’re actually good at it.

The first step is to dump everything floating in your head into a trusted system. This trusted system is a very subjective thing. It could be something as simple as a notepad, a todo list app, Excel. Anything really. Just dump it. It can be a very cathartic experience.

Sort it

Once everything that has been bugging you is on paper (or screen), sort through the mess and group them, nest them, highlight them and prioritize them. Things begin to feel less daunting and complicated. Exactly how you do this is up to you, and over time you will evolve your own, unique system that works for you. No single app, tool, product will meet your specific requirements. Choose something that allows you to be flexible in how you setup this system.

Some folks like to create projects and group tasks inside them. Others like to tag. Some like to do both, so they can drill into a particular context and yet be able to query across using tags. Figure out which approach works for you over time, by making tweaks to your very own personalized productivity system so that it evolves with your needs.

Go beyond wishful thinking, and act!

Figure out your goals and dreams and what you want to achieve in life. Break those into bite size chunks and add it to your system. Goals without action is just wishful thinking.

Schedule tasks, create reminders and plan your day, daily

Use technology to unburden your already overloaded conscious brain. Create reminders for things that you need to do, so that you don’t remember it when you cannot do anything about it. Plan your day every morning and check if you’re taking at least one step in the direction that you want. Prioritize the activities that must get done during the day, and focus on it. Setup daily habits, and begin to change your life one tick at a time.

Make it easy to capture a task quickly, as moments of inspiration can be fleeting.

Daily, weekly review

Periodically measure your progress against your goals. You may not achieve everything, as willpower is a fickle fickle thing and you will soon realize that managing your limited reserve of willpower to do the things that are most important to you is what this is all about.

Now clear your mind

With the system in place, let your mind free. No longer do you have to keep everything in your mind. Focus only on the task at hand, and when it’s done, pick the next and move on. Let the system remind you when you need reminding and reduce the incessant chatter that’s going through your head. You will feel much lighter and in control.

My personal system

Personally, I’ve built my system around Todoist. It’s a wonderfully neat little tool that competes in the unenviably saturated space of todo list apps and yet somehow blows away the competition through a simple and omnipresent solution that works on a wide variety of platforms. I primarily use Todoist on Android and in Chrome as an extension that lets me access my daily priorities with ease and makes capturing a task a snap. I’ve literally used it every day in the last one and half years and I couldn’t be happier with it. And no, I’m not getting paid to say this.

What I’ve found is that through this, I’ve been able to achieve way more than I would have if I didn’t have such a system, with less stress and anxiety. Hopefully this helps in you in some way, as you discover your very own path. The journey is worth it.

By Anuradha Weeraman profile image Anuradha Weeraman
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