I’ve been recommending a fantastic book to many of my clients, and the response from them has been overwhelmingly good. The book is Getting Things Done by David Allen. Mr. Allen takes a different approach to time management and organization than many other authors, and I think most of his ideas are relevant to networkers.
One of the most interesting is that he suggests getting rid of priorities and To-Do lists. I had a hard time with both of those when I read the book. I lived and died by my To-Do list, and I wasn’t willing to give it up without a fight. But when I finally got his point, I gave it up. He suggests that we look at everything in our life and work as “next actions.” That concept, which seemed so simple, was almost revolutionary.
Look at a typical task: “Buy stuff for networking event.” Seems simple, right? Actually, that task can be broken down into a series of next actions:
- Determine attendance
- Decide on food for event
- Pack projector and computer
- Buy food
And so on. The point he makes is that if you leave a task too broad, you will tend to avoid it because it seems to hard to get your head around. Breaking it down into a series of discrete next actions makes it easier to actually take action and get an item off the list.
Another point he makes is to combine “work” and “personal” actions. That flies in the face of the advice of many time management gurus. But again, I see his point. His goal is to have his readers put in place a system where they are doing the right thing, in the right place. For example, if you need to go to Staples for work supplies, and your system includes both work and personal, you’ll also remember to pick up poster board for your son’s school project. If you maintained separate lists, the odds are good that you’d end up making two trips.
Go buy the book. It’s worth it. I’ve always thought of myself as organized, and I got so much out of this book that I completely reworked my systems. And I am getting a lot more stuff done.
In future posts, I’ll share some ideas for implementing the GTD system on the go and how it can fit in with an overall networking strategy.