GTD: Working from the Bottom Up

Reading David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, is forcing me to examine the efficiency and functionality of my action choices. In Chapter 9, Allen discusses the importance of making the best action choices possible at the current moment, and working “from the bottom up” to efficiently manage the “Ground Level” stuff.

I especially liked Allen’s key advice: “Handle what has your attention and you’ll discover what really has your attention.” Whatever is on my mind right now, whether it be “Write a blog post for GED 400,” or “Look into best brands and sizes of external hard drives,” is what will dominate my mind and most of my energy. However, if I schedule a time to write that blog post into my calendar, and then spend 15-20 minutes researching and taking notes on brands and reviews of external hard drives, then I will have “handled” the “Ground level” stuff, and my mind will suddenly have the freedom and flexibility to take note of what it is that really has my attention: the “stuff” on the higher levels (or “Horizons”).

Once the Ground level stuff has been taken care of, and I have welcomed into my present mind all the “things” from the upper levels/Horizons, I can begin to evaluate my current action choices.

In class the other day, my professor asked us all to write down a few 1-2 year goals and then long-term goals (10-20 years). I found this exercise helpful, as I rarely have time to think about what my long-term goals are for my future. I have a couple that remain steadfast, but I have much open space. In ten years, I would like to be married, have at least one child, and have many piano students of all ages. I knew that much already, but after we did this exercise in class, I was able to think for a few minutes about some possible goals for my future, and then I could evaluate my current action choices and determine if they are helping me work towards those goals.

I believe they are, but how can one ever know for sure?


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