NHA Lifestyle Blog

Writing stuff down and getting shit done

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Ever feel like you’re going nowhere, not getting things done or that you don’t have enough time? This post might be for you.

Often when I write, I try not to be too direct in terms of where it’s going. An article can start out with a certain point and end up in an entirely different direction but this is not one of those posts. No, this time I just want to express how much the following process has changed my life and so there should be no real surprises from here on, it’s about writing stuff down and getting shit done.

Getting Things Done

We have a lot more to think about today than we did several years ago, largely for the increase in technology and general choice but also because that’s just the way it is. It obviously means there are too many things going on in our lives at the same time, whether it’s emails or phone calls, birthday’s, time-tables, gym class, banking or coffee. And so it all becomes overwhelming to the point of forgetting or frustrating to the point of wanting to forget. But what can you do about it?

Well, I have thought about this process for quite a long time now and being fully aware of how I needed to be more organised in order to be more productive or successful, I began putting a method into place called Getting Things Done by David Allen.

Today, I would like to explain it.

Part one: Don’t store, Write

dont think

The first part of Allen’s method relates to the mind and a pretty simple fact that the mind is not designed for storing information. Somehow most people think this is true and inevitably, we continue gathering as much data as possible over and over again with the assumption that this information can be called upon when we need it. Except one thing, that’s not how it works. No, what actually happens is that we end up forgetting most things because the mind is not for storing ideas but rather for creating them and it is not for holding thoughts but instead, the mind is designed to think them up in the first place.

As a metaphor, the best way to describe this can be found when Albert Einstein was asked why he did not recall his own phone number, he responded by asking the interviewer as to why he would need to recall anyone’s phone number, when he could just find it in a telephone book.

Morale of the story: Depending on the mind to remember everything is not really a healthy system.

So what to do instead?

Writing stuff down

I can’t can’t handle bring myself to write everything in a laptop, not only seem like a bit of a miserable task but it’s also not very practical to take it out any time I want to “store some information”. For me, I now carry a diary wherever I go and anytime something comes into my mind, I write it down. Reply to email from Tom, collect laundry, pay accommodation. I write them down. Pick up groceries, buy sunglasses, write a blog post about getting things done. I write it all down. The mind is not for storing this information, it is for creating it.

Sunday dread

Part Two: Mind like water

The next part of David Allen’s method is to develop a “Mind like water”. In other words, when you throw a pebble into a lake, the ripples will spread outward and return to being calm again. In fact, no matter what is thrown into the lake, the water will always go back to being calm and this is the way we need to be. Regardless of what is going on around us, in order for us to get it done properly, we need to be completely focused and engaged in whatever the task is that we are doing. For example, right now I do not have YouTube open and there is nothing else allowed in my mind other than to write this post. If somebody or something interrupts me writing this, whether it’s a person, a flying object or most especially a thought of my own, then I must quickly return to being calm like water and continue writing.

Part Three: Create the space

The third part of this method is that you must create time and space to complete the task. For example, at the beginning of this post I closed every tab on my laptop so as not to be distracted while I am writing. Another way that I do this is in public, I absolutely always wear headphones when I am working in a coffee shop, internet cafe or a bar and the reason I do this is because nobody will interrupt.

You need to create that environment in order to be fully focused.

Getting organised

So that was the method or theory but the actual system is something which needs to be practiced. From here it’s pretty simple in that once you collect all of the information and written it down, you need to figure out a way to get whatever it is moving forward and then keep all of this information organised. Again, I do this in my diary, everything is in there, every idea, every thing to do and every thought but keep in mind, it also needs to be organised in such a was that I can find it easily.

And finally, Review

Holding all of the above together and keeping you on course for getting shit done, you have the miserable task of reviewing. I say miserable because at the beginning, everything about my review was bad (ie. I got very little done) but at the same time, it was this part of the process which allowed me to identify what needed to be fixed, eradicated or improved in order to get this same shit done.

Anyway, that’s it in a nutshell so if you feel like you’re not getting an awful lot done lately or just looking for new ways to increase your productivity, this is a super simple but effective way to do it, write stuff down and start getting shit done.

Now, here’s a photo of some lady painting.

Getting things done

I'm an Outdoor Adventure Blogger from Dublin, Ireland. In late 2013 I began riding a bicycle across Africa and it was during this adventure when I discovered a passion for the great outdoors and the general uncertainty of life on the road. Next April, I am hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

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