Using Science to Support your GTD Productivity

Posted 02/07/15 by James and filed under:

I recently came across the below video and thought it was interesting.  It brings up some great thoughts on productivity. 

Take a look and see what you think.  Do you agree or disagree with the ideas?

Below the video I’ve outlined the main points the video makes and added a few thoughts of my own about how these points, backed in science can be utilized in GTDNext more effectively. 

The Science of Productivity by ASAP Science


Main Points from the Video

  1. Will Power  can be depleted! – I find this to be true as well. Because of this I try to handle my hardest tasks, the tasks that require the most will power first thing in the day.  Take a look at this blog post for ideas on how to do that. 

  2. Get Started – This is key for me.  The Zeigarnink effect definitely works for me. If I’m having trouble getting started on something I make an effort to fool myself into just getting started. Even though I know I’m fooling myself, it still always works!  In GTDNext  this could look like giving yourself a task that should only take a short amount of time.  Something  as simple as “Work on PPT Presentation for 5 minutes”   Of course once I get going, I never stop at 5 minutes.  It’s the starting that is sometimes hard.  Just opening PowerPoint and working on the outline get’s me going.

  3. Focus your energy in packets.  The video suggest that top tier violinist will practice for 90 minutes of work with 15-20 minute breaks. If you like this idea, check out the concept of Pomodore.  I will sometimes use the technique if I have a project that I know is going to take a long time. Using Pomodore will help keep me on track so I won’t wander off and start multi-tasking.   

  4. Give yourself a deadline.    This one really flies in the face of GTD.  I don’t often give myself arbitrary deadlines.  However, for some people I’m sure this works well.  GTDNext certainly has the ability to set a deadline on a project or a task. Give it a try and see if it works well for you. 

  5. Accountability Chart – Evaluate your work.  During your weekly review.  You do competed a weekly review.  Right?!  During your review, take some time to evaluate your work. Turn on the completed actions view in GTDNext and see look at your main projects.  Use the zoom feature to just focus on one project at a time. Did you accomplish what you wanted to this week?  How can you change your focus for next week?

  6. Stop Multitasking – This is always very difficult for me.  I multitask a lot.  The below tips provide in the video do help. However, to be honest this one is a constant struggle for me.  Are you an expert at single focusing?  How have you managed to make it work?

    • Make a list the night before – In GTDNext for me this means reviewing my next actions and clicking on the focus button for any items I plan to do the next day.  The key for me, is that I un-focus all my actions first. I start each new day fresh.  Situations change, you need to start fresh each day. I actually do this several times a day.  The big difference maker for me is when I make sure to keep GTDNext open (on a separate screen) all day on the focus view.  This helps me keep on track.
    • Split up your tasks into smaller bit size pieces – GTDNext makes this easy for you. Divide your task into as many sub-tasks or projects as you want.  Create very small units of work. This may seem a little silly at times, but it does help break through the lack of willpower issue that this video talks about.  It also helps with the getting started problem.  Plus it’s somehow very satisfying to click that check mark box!  So the more items you can check off the more satisfied you will be!

Overall this was an interesting and video with some good tips.  Give them a try in GTDNext and report back in the comments on how this is helping you with your productivity.