Get It Done Now

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Epistemic Sta­tus: Reference

A while ago, I read the book Get­ting Things Done. Like most pro­duc­tivity books and sys­tems, it in­cludes de­tailed ad­vice that ap­prox­i­mately no one will fol­low. Un­like most pro­duc­tivity books and sys­tems, it has two highly valuable key con­cepts. The sec­ond alone jus­tified the time cost of read­ing the book. That prin­ci­ples are these:

Keep a record of tasks you’ve de­cided to do.

If you de­cide to even­tu­ally do a task that re­quires less than two min­utes to do, that can effi­ciently be done right now, do it right now.

This word­ing is a re­fine­ment of the origi­nal con­cept of ap­ply­ing the two-minute rule dur­ing ‘pro­cess­ing time’ only. I think it’s much bet­ter to use it any time do­ing the new task can be done effi­ciently – it’s not wait­ing on any­thing, you have the nec­es­sary tools, it wouldn’t in­terfere too much with your state, with a key short-term dead­line, or the need to pro­tect a large or im­por­tant block of time, etc etc.

Hav­ing this sim­ple con­cept in your head – it’s bet­ter, once you no­tice some­thing that you need to do, to just do it now rather than add it to your stack of things to do – has saved me far more trou­ble than one might ex­pect.

Two min­utes is a place­holder. Some peo­ple should use a lower or more of­ten higher time thresh­old. The thresh­old should be ad­justed based on the situ­a­tion.

The book also con­tains a de­tailed method of how to cre­ate and main­tain the list of tasks. It seemed an­noy­ing and overly com­plex and not suited to the way I think, and I never gave it a real try. The ba­sic prin­ci­ple of ‘have a sys­tem that en­sures such tasks are not for­got­ten’ still seems very strong.

The prin­ci­ple re­mains, and can be use­fully ex­tended fur­ther, which I plan to do in ad­di­tional posts. But bet­ter to, by its own prin­ci­ples, write and get this posted now, so I can re­fer back to it.