Getting Things Done: Engage

Nov 28, 2014
Joe Buhlig
~2 mins

Deciding what to work on can be simple – it doesn’t have to be stressful. GTD can help you make the decision quickly and easily.

Once you have the whole system in place and reviewed, you can step into the purpose of the framework - accomplishing tasks. Choose a task that moves you closer to your goals, complete it, and repeat.

Having the motivation to complete the action is up to you, but choosing the task is easy. Here are four criteria for making the decision:

1. Context

Based on your current location and the tools at your disposal, what actions are you able to complete? There’s no point in looking at the work you need to do at the office if you’re at home.

If you’ve set up your next action lists, look at the list you’ve created for the context that you’re in. That will show you the actions that are possible to complete right now.

2. Time

Once you have the inventory of what you can work on, think about how much time you have. Don’t start a 30 minute report if you have 10 minutes before your next meeting.

3. Energy

Is it morning and you’re full of energy? Or did you just finish a big meeting and you’re drained? Take this into account when choosing the task to work on. Don’t take on an intense project when you’re brain-dead and can’t think straight. Do some mundane tasks that will keep the ball rolling, but don’t take a lot of brain power. Save the high energy tasks for another time. Or better yet, learn to manage your energy levels.

4. Priority

What’s most important right now? You’ll likely need to trust your intuition here. After seeing what you’re able to work on and weighing the time and energy you have, trust your gut on which task to work on. You’ll know.

Consider these four criteria when you’re deciding what to work on next and you’ll simplify one of the most difficult decisions we face every day – what do I work on next?

In the next post, I’ll walk you through a typical day from my perspective and show how GTD frees up my creative capabilities.

This is a series about the productivity framework Getting Things Done by David Allen. You can find the entire series at the following links:

  1. Getting Things Done: Introduction
  2. Getting Things Done: Capture
  3. Getting Things Done: Clarify
  4. Getting Things Done: Organize
  5. Getting Things Done: Reflect
  6. Getting Things Done: Engage
  7. Getting Things Done: A Day in the Life