The Master Keys to Getting Things Done®

Getting Things Done is about both control and perspective. If self-management can be interpreted as how well our actions match our priorities, or simply how good our choices are about what we’re doing, then we must have equal capability in each of these dimensions to be at our best.

Try this: Identify the initiatives, projects, or situations that would be the most strategic to get off your mind and onto ”cruise control.” For each, implement the following factors of control and perspective that apply:

CONTROL (aka the ”Mastering Workflow” model)

Capture — Do a ”core dump” of any and all potentially relevant data, ideas, and perspectives. Involve key players in this collection phase, if possible. Don’t try to evaluate or let yourself run down ”fix-it” rabbit trails at this point. It’s necessary to pinpoint anything and everything that’s on the radar, so you won’t miss any burning barns or opportunities in the upcoming process.

Clarify — Identify what still has attention about what has shown up in the initial capturing. What outcomes and actions need to be determined for each of the items, if any? Who owns what about getting them done?

Organize — What data and what reminders need to be parked where and with whom about this? Fix any gaps or leaks in your systems for tracking and access.

Reflect — What needs to be reviewed about this, how often, and by whom? Set the appropriate forum and revisit times.

Engage — What next action, by whom, is moving this forward productively, now? Ensure that’s clear, with the right people.

PERSPECTIVE (aka the ”Horizons of Focus”) (Which conversation below needs to happen, with whom, to bring the focus and content sufficiently current and complete?)

Purpose/Principles — What’s our primary intention? What are our rules of engagement?

Vision — What would wild success for us look/sound/feel like? How will we know when we’ve won?

Goals — What are the key outcomes that have to happen, to achieve the vision?

Responsibilities — What are the critical areas of our endeavor that need to be managed and maintained? Who owns them?

Projects — What are the multi-stepped components that have to be finished?

Actions — What are all the current actions on the moving parts, and who has them?

The above models create a complete ecosystem for getting any situation under control and appropriately directed. You shouldn’t be deciding an organizational structure before you’ve captured and clarified relevant components. You don’t want to be trying to set goals without at least some vision of what you’re trying to achieve. And you wouldn’t want to be doing that until you felt like you had some stability in the current situation. The process above doesn’t replace the often necessary hard thinking and tough decision making required to get our sometimes unruly beasts onto cruise control. It does supply the most effective structure within which to manage the intricate work of defining the work, and building trust that you’ve got your hand on the helm.



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