[Borrowed heavily from Josh Kaufmans notes]
1. Define what being “done” looks like
- Most of the tasks people keep on their to-do lists are “amorphous blobs of undoability” – commitments without any clear vision of what being “done” looks like
- What does the end point look like?
2. Mental work has five distinct phases
- Collecting inputs: resources, knowledge, and tasks. Get them all in one place before you begin
- Processing inputs: do it right now (if it takes less than 2 mins), delegate it, defer it to your calendar, or file it for later (or never)
- Organising into a system so you don’t have to remember it all. Tasks go on your to-do list, projects go on a projects list, future plans go into a tracking system, and reference information goes into a file or database you can access easily
- Doing work through the tasks you can accomplish right now
- Reviewing your work, revising your strategy, and improving your systems for better results
3. Get everything out of your head
- Our brains are optimized for fast decision-making, not storage
- Get it down into a journal (not a scrap of paper that you might lose)
- Once the information is out of your head, it’s far easier to figure out what to do with it
- Externalisation helps you feel less freaked out about your workload
4. Focus on the Next Action required to move forward
- Even the biggest project is just a series of small tasks
- What is the next task? Just focus on the action you need to take next
5. Use the “2 Minute Rule” for small tasks.
- If you can accomplish the task in less than two minutes, just do it now
6. Use Reference and Someday/Maybe files for things that have no immediate next actions
- Someday/Maybe lists are great for deferring ideas that you’d like to work on someday, but you’re not committing to right now
7. Build a trusted system that helps you keep track of your commitments.
- Your mind keeps things in working memory if it thinks you’ll lose them if it doesn’t
- That’s why Externalisation works – when you put something on paper in a place you know you’ll be able to find later, you’re freeing mental resources that can be put to better use elsewhere
8. An effective productivity system consists of:
- A list of active tasks – next actions you’ve committed to accomplishing in the next few days.
- A list of active projects – 4-20 project you’ve committed to accomplishing in the next few weeks.
- A calendar – commitments to meet with other people in the near future.
- A someday/maybe list – ideas you’d like to explore, but not right now.
- Reference files – information or documents you’ll need to refer to in the future.
- A capture device – some way of capturing ideas or next actions as you think of them.
9. Schedule non-negotiable time for a Weekly Review
- Process and organize – anything you’ve collected but haven’t handled yet.
- Review your active tasks – are there any to add, delegate, defer, or delete?
- Review your active projects – are there any to add, delegate, defer, or delete?
- Review your calendar – are there any meetings to add, delegate, defer, or delete?
- Someday/Maybe – anything to add or promote to an active project?
- Reference Files – anything you need soon? Anything to add or update?
- Goals – are you moving in the right direction? Are you making progress? Are any changes necessary?