Defining what "done" means and what "doing" looks like is the underlying principles of getting things done. Knowing the "what" and "how-to" ensures you get things done in a much better way than just leaving things to chance. It aims to create a sense of clear and concise direction to take when going about your tasks and the ability to recognize when you're lagging. Another book on productivity is Essentialism.
Mastering your workflow involves identifying and clarifying what has your attention, placing it in its rightful docket, and then reviewing and engaging with it frequently. Doing this so much so that it becomes natural, thereby keeping you grounded and helping you maintain perspective. If you’re not sure how to figure out what to focus on, read the book The ONE Thing.
Dealing with anxiety and guilt. Ensuring you keep agreements with yourself and avoiding procrastination is integral in keeping off anxiety and guilt. Allen suggests that anxiety and guilt do not stem from having an excess of things to do, rather than not doing things at the moment you've defined them. The other book I can strongly recommend on this is How To Stop Stressing And Start Living.
Releasing ideas from your mind. By listing down ideas that would otherwise be randomly boggling your mind, you create space for your mind to complete other tasks. It is meant for creating ideas and not hanging onto them.
Mastering workflow involves getting an overview of everything, capturing what needs to be done, and the energy it requires both physically and mentally. You can have notes where you write down items that have to be handled in a certain way. Identifying everything that needs to be done before executing any tasks you may have at hand, ensures effortlessly performing those tasks in the most productive way. The Checklist Manifesto is a great book on this too.
Processing means emptying your "to-do list" and defining the next achievable action for all the items you have on your list. The next achievable action is a practical action that you can perform to complete a chore. Without defining it, it would be difficult to act on a specific task.
When the processing for all actions is done, organizing is done according to Allen's principle of 4D's. Do it, delegate it, delete, or defer. He advises that when a task takes less than 2 minutes to complete, do it immediately. Delegating should be done if you feel someone could do a job faster or better than you, while deferring is for tasks that you can put off to a later date. The book How To Blog For Profit talks a lot about prioritizing your tasks in this way as well.
To constantly liberate your mind and ensure that your productivity is unobstructed, you need a regular confirmation that your system is still working. Daily scrutinizing your tasks ensures that you have defined the right tasks, and you have included everything that needs to be done.
The final step includes the criteria with which you decide what task to perform at any given time of day. The context of priority, available time, and energy level can enable you to choose when to do what.
Identifying daily work requires doing work beforehand. When you're doing work beforehand, you're completing work that you have previously established needs to be done. This manages your workflow.
New challenges show up daily, and you might need to spend some time and energy tackling these challenges. This will, however, require you to decide whether these challenges are more important than the tasks you had initially designated for these particular times.
Defining your work entails breaking down your tasks into workable portions.
For more on the stress-free productivity read the book How To Stop Stressing And Start Living.
David Allen is an American productivity consultant and writer who was born on December 28, 1945. His career path has included occupations such as a karate teacher, gas station manager, landscaper, travel agent, restaurant cook, and magician.
Despite being briefly institutionalized due to heroin, he has managed to write books that have guided many to realizing their full potential. He has also written Ready for Anything, Work and Life, and Making It All Work.
He is the founder of the David Allen Company, an executive coaching firmandone of the founders of Auctioneer, a company specializing in productivity tools.