I’m a fan of Getting Things Done, which I first read a few years ago, but I’ve gotten lazy with it over the last couple years, and I’ve recently committed to reading the book again and getting more disciplined with my task and project management methods. I’m almost done with the book and I’m about 80% of the way through a huge mind-dump of all my open loops, including projects, tasks, commitments, ideas, goals, hopes, dreams, and anything else that’s on my mind. I’m not quite done yet, but the amount of breathing room I feel already is incredible. Seriously, it’s hard to imagine how I got anything done done without doing this. The constant stress and guilt over broken commitments (mainly to myself) is lifting, and I feel much, much better about things.
The impact that good time management and productivity skills can have is incredibly high, so high in fact that I wonder why we as a society aren’t more intentional about teaching it. In sixteen years of education, I don’t think I ever really had an organized class about managing multiple tasks and responsibilities, budgeting my time, and ensuring I’m being both efficient and effective with my time and resources. I wonder if we think that these things just can’t be taught, or perhaps that they’re so specific to the individual that trying to institutionalize them isn’t worth the effort. Whatever the reason, it’s something I plan on instilling in my kids. Technical knowledge is really valuable, but I almost think it’s more important to have the skills to decide on a goal, break it down into tasks and next actions, and actually get it done. If you have that, you can teach yourself a huge array of technical skills. I see far more smart people hamstrung by poor discipline and productivity than I see very disciplined and productive people hamstrung by their lack of technical skills.
On the other hand, this change is hard. Really hard. Maybe you can’t teach it 🙁 What do you think?