July 9, 2012
Productivity is not just a vague concept that highly privileged corporate executives boast about. There are specific, everyday actions that can boost anyone’s productivity and save valuable time.
Have you heard about the Getting Things Done book? It’s a culmination of author David Allen’s 30-year experience doing consulting and private coaching in both personal and corporate productivity. By handing the GTD book to everyone on your startup team, you’re helping to create an atmosphere in which “doing” becomes the dominant theme, bringing productivity to the forefront of the office dialogue.
For founders, productivity should be high on your priority list. Regardless of company size or culture, it’s critical to provide a strong foundation and ongoing training in both the Getting Things Done method, as well as the productivity apps you’re going to use. Without the right productivity apps, Getting Things Done will leave your team members struggling to cobble together a makeshift system of their own and may limit their ability to share and collaborate.
By using a common methodology, terminology, and tools, you’ll enhance your team’s ability to work as a productive unit and ultimately help your startup achieve its goals!
GTD Project Methodology & Terminology
Every project you’ll face requires your team to go through 5 stages, according to Allen’s natural planning model:
1. Define the purpose and the principles of the project. Find out why you’re doing it and create decision-making criteria.
2. Start envisioning the outcome and descend from a theoretical level to a more practical level. Find out what you want to achieve and define the actual blueprint for the final result.
3. Brainstorm with your team. Find out how you are going to make it happen.
4. Organize the moving parts and identify significant pieces. As you progress, you should notice the hidden structure in the chaos. Natural organization should emerge from the brainstorm cluster.
5. Identify the next actions. When you start connecting all the moving parts of your plan, pretty soon you’ll face a decision on “what’s our next action?” Your ability or inability to answer this question will tell you if your project is mature enough to progress or not. If there are project bits still floating in the air, there’s more planning to do.
Once the master blueprint has been drawn and you have received input from and communicated to your team, team members should embrace the following as a critical part of staying on the “productivity path”:
# Collection: Gather all the project information from all data streams into a master inbox. This includes emails, contacts, calendars, reference materials, dates, and basically anything that will be part of your future workflow.
# Process: Divide all the items on your collected inventory, trash what you don’t need, delegate things to other team members, and identify your role in the bigger scheme of things. Processing should be ongoing as additional information comes in throughout the project.
# Organize: Set up the right lists and decide if items are “actionable” or not. Connect all the required supporting reference material to the proper lists and schedule calendared actions. Always focus and evaluate your next action list. Items that you previously delegated go on your waiting for list. Items that are unclear in nature or may never be properly processed get thrown into a someday/maybe list.
# Review: Check your lists on a weekly basis to make sure all your information is processed and organized based on the project’s current priorities and objectives. This step is a must to ensure trust in your project and personal GTD workflow!
# Doing: The best way to choose what action to do and when is to categorize them according to your context (e.g., do it at home or at the office), time available (e.g., 15 minutes for the entire action), energy available (e.g., can I handle this at night?), and priority. The more info you have, the better decision you make!
And Don’t Forget the Tools!
I found that having a mind mapping tool at your disposal can help you envision all the moving parts and brainstorm great ideas. Also, if you’re looking for an app that will help you collect, process, organize, review, do, and collaborate, you’re invited to try out IQTELL’s GTD app. Rather than managing a project using 4 or 5 different applications, you’ll have everything you need in one place.
Your startup’s challenges may vary, but motivating and improving your team’s effectiveness will remain a concern even after an IPO. Make sure you set the right organizational behavior from the get-go, and teach your team to achieve objectives like a well-oiled machine, without stress. That, my friends, is what GTD is all about!
Guest author Haim Pekel is a marketer/entrepreneur and currently the Marketing Director of IQTELL.com, a GTD app that helps users to increase productivity by giving them a platform to organize to-do lists, complete tasks, and connect them to everything they do in one place. Haim also co-founded Retour à L’innocence, Vivre en harmonie avec soi, les autres, la nature magazine. Haim usually writes about startups, marketing, and productivity on Tech Cocktail and IQTELL’s blog. You can find him on IQTELL’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn an
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