Getting Things Done, How executives can do more

By Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant,

"Getting Things Done" discusses simple methods to accomplish more important tasks in less time through actively addressing your days works. Methods include: doing the most important tasks first, setting and sticking to priorities, scheduling like tasks together, limiting interruptions, and reducing clutter by simplification.

Life is hectic for everyone, we have more responsibilities and complexities than we could ever imagine. Everyday we face deadlines and challenges that prevent us from being our most effective. When we get right down to it, we do not work as effectively as we should— we are time wasters and wasted time can never be recovered. Here are some simple techniques that can reduce stress, improve productivity, and help you in getting things done.

Do the most important tasks first;

Many task have more impact than others, some may even cost you your job or have legal ramifications. Of course there are those people who is busy all the time, always with their nose to the grind, yet never accomplish anything. Focus on the most important task first in your day, get these out of the way and you will leave room for accomplishment.

In a business the main purpose of an employee is to serve the customer. Your service to the customer should be the first and most important thing you do in the day. These include items that will help meet project goals, provide timely billing, support legal requirements, and generate revenue. This method will also reduce stress, because if you complete the real pressing task, no matter how ugly they are, you can rest assure at the end of a day that they will not be waiting for you tomorrow.

At the end of a day, list out all the activities that must be completed tomorrow, seven items will be sufficient. From this list, select the three most important activities to be accomplished. Resolve to complete these tasks in order of importance.

Set and stick to priorities;

Everything has its order and its place. Your life is not just your job, it includes your family, relationships, community involvement, and recreational activities. Determine your unique blend of priorities, give work its time, but also set aside time for your mind to recover from a grueling day.

When scheduling your tasks for the day, schedule everything. Select a single place to document your tasks and individual task priorities. When someone asks you if you can do something, weight the importance of what they are asking you in relation to the tasks you already have scheduled. Do not be afraid to say "No", or reschedule the new tasks for a later date. Be honest with any individual that wants to use your time, remember it is the only 24 hours you have.

Keeping your commitments and sticking to your priorities will help reduce the overall stress involved in accomplishing your daily tasks. Steadily complete the tasks you have decided to address in their proper order and through to completion. No one is every successful doing only half of their job.

Schedule like tasks together;

Many of the tasks you do in a day or week are similar in preparation and completion. These tasks can be clustered together and done at one time. This "batch" processing saves on preparation and completion time for each of the regular tasks.

Imagine a task that takes five minutes to get started, approximately two minutes per item and five minutes to clean up after completing the task. Checking your email is one of these tasks. If you check your email four times a day and have ten email messages, you will spend about thirty minutes checking your messages each time, about two hours a day. Now imagine doing this task once a day, in the morning maybe, your will have about forty messages to go through taking about eighty minutes, plus your preparation and completion makes a total of ninety minutes. This leaves a ten-minute head start to work on your next priority item.

Ten minutes a day does not sound like much— but remember that's forty-one hours in a two hundred and fifty-day work year. For your employer, or if you are self-employed, this time recovered is money earned on your behalf.

Limit interruptions;

In the course of the day, the phone rings, people ask questions, meetings are scheduled, and other peoples priorities call for our attention. These interruptions are not deliberate to prevent you from getting your work done, but they could turn a ten-minute task into an hour chore. Set aside time to concentrate on the task at hand, control your environment to allow you to give 100% to the tasks completion.

You can limit interruptions in many ways, ask someone to answer your calls, close your office door, post a busy sign on your desk, or politely ask people to come back at a predefined time. Schedule quiet time for yourself as well as time you can be interrupted. You will need to determine when you work best, your most productive hours should be your quiet time.

When people don't stop you in midstream you can complete tasks within the time your originally designate for their completion. This helps you to provide better quality work and reduces errors. Overall you will become more effective in the accomplishment of the tasks you have laid out for completion and get projects completed on time.

Reduce clutter and simplify.

For many of us our desk becomes the dumping ground for our mail, letters, magazines, and other information that need our attention. When our desk is cluttered our mind is cluttered. But don't through everything in the desk draws, an organized environment is a productive environment.

Knowing where to find a particular piece of information, just because you put it where it should be can reduce stress and the time necessary to complete a task. It is your responsibility to clean your working area and utilize a consistent filing methodology in your daily work life. Experiment, do not create piles, but use vertical subject folders, organize papers according to projects, anything orderly.

When it take five minutes verse twenty-five minutes to find that important report you completed last week, you obviously save time and energy. Subconsciously you will not be compelled to medal in each pile, stopping and starting with new and old projects. You will also have a larger working area to work on that most important task—keeping everything together for quick clean up.

Remember it is not how much you get done, it is what you get done and at what price you paid. Getting things done means accomplish the important tasks, setting and sticking to priorities, scheduling like tasks together, limiting interruptions, and reducing clutter through simplification. You will be surprised in how much you can do in your 24-hour day!

Copyright (c) 1999 Justin Hitt, All rights reserved.
/ magic-one | personal-planning /

Justin Hitt is a strategic relations consultant with the Center for Strategic Relations. He is available for limited consultative support of professional organizations serving other businesses. Call +1 (877) 207-3798 or visit

Home | Featured Articles | Glossary of Terms | Subject Index | Site Map | Editorial Calendar | About us | Contact us

Center for Strategic Relations, Dept IUN,
1123 Spruce St #3123, Martinsville, VA 24115-3123

24-Hour Phone/Fax Hotline: +1 (877) 207-3798

© 2001-2023 JWH Consolidated LLC dba Center for Strategic Relations, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy. Sitemap.