How to Get Things Done – a speech by Geoff Peters to Toastmasters

Geoff from gives a speech at Best Run Toastmasters in Vancouver.

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Speech Summary:

You have projects to work on. For example, you want to achieve a certain goal, such as write the marketing report, or fix the broken toilet in your bathroom.

Projects have more than one action required, and these actions may need to take place in a certain sequence, where some tasks depend on others to be done first. (Some projects may only have a single action or task.)

For fixing the toilet, my tasks were to find out the toilet model number, then to research the available parts, buy the parts, buy needed tools, read the instructions, do the repair, check for leaks, test the fix, and then clean up.

When doing project planning, follow the process: DOBOI : defining purpose and principles, outcome visioning, brainstorming, organizing, and identifying next actions.

Purpose and principles: why are you doing it?

Outcome visioning: what will success look like?

Brainstorming: what are all possible actions needed for this project (in any order)

Organizing: assign priorities, dates, and sequences to tasks, and sort them.

Identify next action: what is the next physical action needed to make progress?

Put all tasks and needed reference material into your system. The system should take care of sorting/ordering your tasks based on the dates, priorities, and sequences you have defined.

Every time you think of a new task (brainstorming) add it to the system immediately, and you can organize them later when you have time.

Every time you wonder what to do next, go back to your system and organize the tasks: update all dates, priorities.

Then identify the next action.

If you are waiting for someone else to reply, add a “follow up with (name) about (subject)” task and set the date when you want to follow up.

Organize your tasks into a list for each project, such as “fix the toilet” or “write marketing report”. You can also have lists such as “movies to watch” “restaurants to try” “gift cards to use” or “weekly home cleaning”.

If you’d like to be reminded of a task at some later date, set the date on the task, even if it is a month or a year from now.

You should have proper backups of your system in place so that you can trust it completely. I back up my lists by exporting my data to a network drive after every modification. If you are using a cloud based system such as toodledo you may want to export your list locally on a daily or weekly basis.

Software I recommend: – cloud based task list management software
Task unifier for desktops
Dgt gtd for Android

Note: at any moment, you can be doing work as it shows up (urgent firefighting), planning your projects, or doing work that you planned. By spending more of your time on planning and executing the planned work (and doing less firefighting), you will make greater progress towards your desired outcome.

You can reduce stress and increase focus if you avoid keeping track of your tasks in your head. Instead, put all pending tasks and projects into your system, no matter how small.

Study this system deeply and make it a part of how you function. You will increase your productivity and reduce your stress by applying the DOBOI project planning process and effective daily task management.

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