Are your action choices shakily reactive, or confidently responsive?

Written by Harold S. Mars III on Sunday, 10 April 2016. Posted in Productivity

Implementing GTD alleviates being overwhelmed, instills confidence, and releases a flood of creative energy.


Making day-by-day, moment-by-moment action decisions is a major part of all of our lives ... no exceptions. There are so many inputs coming at us from all directions and every context, in both our professional and personal lives. We have to constantly assess and make decisions on what to do, and not to do, at any moment.

How's your choice making? Are you conducting it with a "hope it's right" mentality, or is it a more confident "trust it's right" mentality? David Allen, Productivity Guru "par excellance," talks about what characterizes the worst behaviors in decision-making and workflow management:

"... What's the one thing we do that get's in the way of being productive? It's not one thing but five things all wrapped together: People keep stuff in their head. They don't decide what they need to do about stuff they know they need to do something about. They don't organize action reminders and support materials in functional categories. They don't maintain and review a complete and objective inventory of their commitments. Then they waste energy and burn out, relying on a "hope it's right" mentality, where they're driven by the latest and loudest, unsure about what they're doing, unaware of what they're not doing. Their inventory of actions is incomplete and out-of-date ... and therefore their intuition is inaccessible, hoping that what they're doing is the right thing to do, but never really feeling the relief that it is ...

" ... Most people keep stuff only in their head, which short-circuits the process to begin with. Plenty of people write lots of things down, but they don’t decide the next actions on them. And even when people actually think about the actions required (before it’s in crisis mode), they don’t organize the reminders so that they’ll be seen when they're in the contexts where the action is possible. And even most of those people who do get these lists together in a burst of inspired productivity let their systems quickly become out of date and inconsistent. As a consequence, without the care and feeding of their thinking tools, life and work become reactive responses instead of clearly directed action choices." 1

If that's the worst practice, leading to a "tossed by the waves" reactive type of decision-making, what should we be doing instead? Well, again, David Allen's words are instructive:

"It's a combined set of five best-practice behaviors ... get everything out of your head. Make decisions about actions required on stuff when it shows up - not when it blows up. Organize reminders of your projects and the next actions on them in appropriate categories. Keep your system current, complete, and reviewed sufficiently to trust your intuitive choices about what you're doing (and not doing) at any time." 1

Are you driven by the latest and the loudest, or have you corraled everything that has your attention, decided what to do about it and put it into a system you can trust (outside of your head), where you can look at what you might be able to do wherever you find yourself with whatever available time and resources are at your disposal? With best practice behaviors propelled by the use of GTD® principles and methodologies, you move from a 'hope it's right' mentality to a 'trust it's right' mentality - where you trust your judgment because your inventory of actions is complete and current, and your horizons of focus are in focus and integrated. You bring a confident intuition into play, your vision sharpens, decisions become clear and you gain a more relaxed psyche. That's where we want to be (you know you do!), and where use of the GTD® methodology can take you.

Want to get started? It may sound counter-intuitive, but don't sweat the "big stuff" right now - goals, values, strategic objectives, your life's purpose ... you'll get there. Start from the bottom up by getting all that mundane tangible and mental material (your "psychic post-it notes," as David likes to call them) together in a designated collection bucket (the fewer the better; one central collection point is the best) ... all those things creating subliminal "open loops" in your psyche, nagging and nawing at you to pay attention. Then, start thinking about what you need to do with each one: What's your commitment to them? What's the next action needed (if any)? Can it be done in the next 2 minutes? Can it be delegated to someone else? Does it need to be filed for later reference, or can it be put in the "recycle" bin? Start thinking about it and organizing it into appropriate categories (best by the contexts that you find yourself, so you know what you can accomplish at that moment).

Great start! What you're focused on is building some effective behaviors that will allow you to clear out some "psychic RAM" so you can begin to make more clearly defined action choices, and be better eqipped mentally to access more creative flows of thinking to tackle the "big stuff" in the future. That's creating "response-ability" - you start to move away from being reactive to being responsive ... effectively, efficiently and systematically handling everything that has your attention. Making you better equipped with more energy and clarity to address the larger horizons of focus at the appropriate time. But, you've gotta clear the mundane "first floor" decks first: the material, physical and psychic attention grabbers ... that current stuff right in front of you, on your plate right now.

Want to keep going? Get in touch with us and we'll help you go further with the GTD® principles and methodologies, best practice methods and tools to help you expand on that important first step, along with next steps. Before you know it, you'll be experiencing a productivity break-through and flying high ... working smarter, living better and engaging well with your world.

For more info and to schedule a free consultation, click here: Get productive with GWPS.

1 - From "Ready For Anything - 52 Productivity Principles For Getting Things Done," Pgs 32-35
GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. Graywolf Productivity Solutions, LLC is not affiliated with the David Allen Company.


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About the Author

Harold S. Mars III

HMars1 Reduced 919x1000Harold is a consulting professional well versed in business finance, accounting and the principles of personal productivity, along with the latest in software and web tools available to manage these arenas of life well. He is founder and Chief Productivity Consultant for Graywolf Productivity Solutions LLC, a service entity existing to support those individuals and teams in small and mid-size businesses that desire growth and impact through increased productivity. With seasoned and professional expertise delivered through a personalized and engaging approach, he believes in helping his clients focus on doing what they do best through the use of outstanding business and personal productivity resources.

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