Who is in charge?

“A journey of a thousand miles starts beneath one’s feet” ~ Lao Tzu

The above is the literal and a much more stirring translation of the saying commonly translated as “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Take a minute right now and consider your feet… where they are now and the direction they are taking you. As you notice the direction your feet are taking you, take a moment to reflect on your highest ideals and aspirations. Is the direction in which your feet are pointing in line with your ideals? 

You are in charge. 

Creating the framework

Time to heed Lao Tzu and take charge of the current situation. 

You either have a BIG GOAL clearly in mind and are seeking a way to fulfill it or you are ADRIFT in the sea of possibilities, unsure of your purpose or direction.

If you already have your big goal clearly defined, take some time to break it down into sections. Then ask yourself, “What is the next action I could take to move forward toward my goal?” When you’ve identified some next actions that need to be accomplished in the near future, skip to the Engage GTD section.

If you are feeling a bit adrift there are many ways you can proceed to follow your heart. 

You can engage a professional to assist you in determining the best course of action. You can also take a look at the things that make you excited to be alive. Your passions create a roadmap, it’s up to you to discover them.  If you are unsure of how to proceed, here is a simple three step method to determine direction and allow it to unfold naturally:

  • Each week take some time when you will be uninterrupted and write down whatever comes to mind, in time you will notice some patterns emerge and gain clarity.
  • Take the smallest step in a direction that brings you joy. Each week write down some things that you would like to experience and see if you can move in that direction.
  • Give yourself the benefit of time. The clarity you seek may not come immediately, take the time you need in order to explore your options.

Engage GTD

What if you could turbocharge your barge?

GTD, also known as Getting Things Done is a book, a method and a way of life. GTD provides a framework for your success with specific ways of managing tasks to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Let’s face it, we have many great ideas but most of them never see the light of day. 

GTD is like a turbocharger for your productivity that you can implement in your life which will take you where you are going faster, easier and with fewer detours. Once you instill the GTD habit in yourself it will become second nature. 

The method in itself is fairly simple, the hardest part is overcoming our inner resistance to new ways of doing things. 

It all starts with a list, or a series of lists:

  • IN
  • NEXT ACTIONS
  • WAITING 
  • PROJECTS 
  • SOMEDAY / MAYBE

 Remember, this is a way to organize your ideas and propel you towards your desired future. The purpose of these lists is to get everything out of your mind and into a trusted system so that your brain can relax.

GTD is the scaffolding which supports your goals to fruition and all you need is a pen and paper or a simple app. 

Now let’s look at each of these types of lists a little closer.

IN

The IN list will hold all of your action items as they come in to your mind (this could be regular to do items, testing or practicing skills or presenting your ideas to others). Any time you say to yourself, “I need to remember that,” put it on the list!

Start by simply write down everything you can think of in the IN list. 

NEXT ACTIONS

Next actions are the very next actionable step you can take to move a project forward. As things become active or take priority, move them to the Next Actions list and act on this list first. 

WAITING

A holding place for ideas and action items which are in waiting mode. You may be waiting for input from others, action from others or even waiting until you obtain greater skills.

PROJECTS

Here is where you note down larger ideas which have not been broken down into small tasks yet. This way you will keep track of your plans to build an interstellar speakeasy on Mars without it cluttering your to-do list while you are still waiting for them to open the first colony. 

SOMEDAY / MAYBE

Wait! Maybe this is where your interstellar speakeasy on Mars belongs… I guess that depends on how committed you are to bringing jaunty music to astronauts and pioneers there. You may also consider the need… is there a need for an interstellar speakeasy on Mars? Not currently. Then it belongs on the Someday / Maybe list. 

A daily task

Effective processing of your lists is the key to your success. 

The only way you can make sure that GTD provides the turbo charge you need is by marking the start and end of each day by spending a few minutes going over your lists. If you like you can use the lists all day long. 

Careful attention to your lists and moving the items as they become active into the Next Actions list will be your key to success. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to 58 days of continuous use of the GTD method… once you use it daily for that long, it will become a habit and your life will be propelled forward by greater organization and attention to detail. 

The only way you can fail at this is by not doing it.

*Based in part on the information contained in David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”