031: How to Beat Procrastination, Part 2

This week we continue our quest for strategies to beat procrastination with three more:

  • rest
  • schedule leisure first
  • accountability

030: How to Beat Procrastination, Part 1

Can’t seem to get that big project done? Trying to get something done right at the last minute, or worse yet, missing the deadline? Procrastination can be to blame.


029: Doing vs. Investing

You can aimlessly do stuff, or you can invest. This week, we chat about some ideas around being more intentional in investing your actions.


A quick peek inside the Getting Things Done Workbook

GTD Workbook: A Brief Summary


The new Getting Things Done Workbook was just released and I hesitated buying it. I didn’t know what I would be getting. Oh, I don’t need a workbook to do GTD. I’m pretty good at it. I’ve already read Getting Things Done, Making It All Work, and Getting Things Done for Teens, and Ready For Anything. But somehow this book occupies a different niche.

How To Use The Book

The book blurb states that this workbook is…

An accessible, practical, step-by-step how-to guide that supplements Getting Things Done by providing the details, the how-to’s, and the practices to apply GTD more fully and easily in daily life.

The book is concise and offers a few things the other GTD books don’t have:

  • Insights – Stories from the GTD community with tips, tricks, and quotes.
  • Deep Dives – Detailed examples of each of the ten GTD moves.
  • FAQs – Some Frequently Asked Questions answered by the GTD community.
  • Progress Tracker – Track your progress as you work your way through the checklists to ensure you haven’t missed a step.
  • Checklists – A quick checklist that gives instructions on what to work on next. Check them off as needed.

Whenever I needed to perform a tuneup of my GTD habits. I reached for my well-worn copy of GTD and go through it to see if I needed to brush up on a workflow I’ve become sloppy in. Now, I can go through a quick checklist in the GTD Workbook and improve my GTD practices. This book is compact at 224 pages long. Its short length allows me to get right to the heart of my workflow. There’s no need to wade through the sometimes dry style that the other GTD books have.

Assessing My Current GTD Status

Determine your place in GTD mastery by rating yourself on a quick 15 question survey. You’ll need to know where you are now before you can figure out what is the next action to work on. Whether you’re a beginner or near the top, there is always room for improvement. I’ve found several areas where I see room to grow and solidify my GTD practices.

There are five GTD steps with two to three moves in each step. Go through each step and its corresponding moves. Check them off as you continue your GTD tuneup.

Step 1 : Capturing

  • Move 1: Capture all incoming items into your inbox
  • Move 2: Choosing a capture tool
  • Move 3: Do a Mind Sweep

Master the art of capturing by performing these three moves. If you don’t capture what’s on your mind, you’ll lose it. Gather all those loose papers, books, blog posts, appointment cards, and anything else that is on your mind.

Step 2: Clarifying

  • Move 4: Get in-tray to empty
  • Move 5: Get emails to zero

Gain control of your life and move inbox items by doing any 2 minute tasks as well as delegating or differing tasks. Use the Clarifying checklist to move inbox items into your task manager, calendar, general reference, or trash.

Step 3: Organizing

  • Move 6: Create a Next Action list and other Lists
  • Move 7: Keep Track of Your Projects on One List
  • Move 8: Create Folders to Stay Organized

Organize your miscellaneous next actions into projects and Next Action lists, Waiting For list, and Someday/Maybe lists. Create folders to store any physical documents and digital files.

Step 4: Reflecting

  • Move 9: Do a GTD Weekly Review
  • Move 10: Do a Daily Review

Keep your system up-to-date with a daily review and a weekly review. If your system is not fresh, you won’t trust it anymore because it no longer reflects reality. This step gives us confidence that we have a trusted system we can rely on.

Step 5: Engaging

  • Perform a daily review each morning or night before by checking you calendar and next action lists.
  • Clarify today’s inbox items and organize them into the proper lists on a daily basis.
  • Determine the correct next action to work on now based on context, time available, energy available, and priority.

After all the planning and reviewing is done, it’s time to get to work. You will be confident knowing what you want to do every day.

The Summary

We may have read the GTD book multiple times but we can always find something to improve. Instead of reading the GTD book, use the GTD Workbook to speed up the GTD tune-up. It is loaded with tips and observations from GTD practitioners to give us a jumpstart when we feel stuck. The checklists offered inside gives us a guided tour through the GTD workflow.

I’m thinking of the workbook as my personal coach to keep me on track. It guides me like my gym coach. In David Allen’s ultimate GTD app, there was an overall theme of having his ultimate dream app guide him in the GTD principles. This book is the next best thing to having a personal session with a licensed GTD coach. Keep it on your desk when you feel the need to get a walkthrough some of the steps in capturing, clarifying, organizing, engaging, and reflecting. It’s well worth the price of admission.


028: You are Not Your Tasks

We all have mindsets that work against us. This week, Justin shares about one he’s been fighting against: working to feel valuable.


Handling Interruptions and Making Space for Work

It feels like I never have enough time in the day for my MITs (Most Important Tasks) to get done. I"m trying time blocking, streaks, saying no to outside disruptions. I’m still exploring ways to deal with interruptions and getting back on track with Work Interrupted.

Dealing with Interruptions

I’ve read articles where I can put on headphones to signal to others that I’m not available just doesn’t seem to work when my wife comes into the room and absolutely needs this or that done. The same thing happens with customers. I can’t say no at this stage of my career. One day, I’ll finally become more cemented in my career and finances and I’ll be ready to say no whenever I want to. Some folks will say "it’s time to just put your foot down and say no." Well, I can’t say no to my supervisor most of the time. I could get away with sometimes saying no but not all the time.

Time Blocking has been a mess for me

Time blocking hasn’t worked quite right. I’m resigned to the idea of just making sure I get one MIT done in the morning and one MIT done in the afternoon. I’m starting to work on my morning frog earlier in the morning and work on the afternoon frog in the middle of the afternoon instead of the end of the day. It’s hard to work on an afternoon frog immediately after lunch. I’m drowsy after lunch and just need to unwind. Perhaps I’ll look into my diet plans and what I eat at noon to help with this. Or I should just take a mid-day nap for 30 minutes and get back into the flow.

Time Shifting My Time Block

My scheduled time blocks are becoming more flexible. I’ll consider this "time shifting." Oftentimes, I will pause my work when an interruption occurs. Afterwards, I’ll often decide to just call it a day on my original work when I am no longer in the flow or in the mood. It’s been hard for me to restart my work when I might have other more interesting tasks to work on.

I’m slowly accepting the idea that my work doesn’t have to occur exactly its designated time. I can just move it forward just a little. I don’t want to push it too late in the day and I won’t have time to work on my original project.

If I don’t get back to it, I’ll have to mark it is an MIT for tomorrow morning. I used to get uptight about not finishing something today. But I’ve learned "that’s life." I’ll let it go and return back tomorrow.

Leaving Bread Crumbs To Return Back To Work

One idea I’ve been using to great effect is the idea of marking my place in my work before dealing with the interruption. I take a sticky note and write down where I’m at with my work. and what is the next action I need to take when I return back to my work. I place that sticky note on my computer monitor and switch focus from my computer work to my customer. When I return, it will take me a couple of minutes to return to where I left off. I can resume my train of thought and continue onward with my original work.

Getting My Motor Started

Together with leaving a bread crumb trail, My frustration comes from just getting started. Getting into the starting blocks is difficult because I feel like I’m starting over again. I’ve been using the Due app to nag me every 30 minutes to return to my original work. If I get interrupted, I’ll pull out my iPhone and talk to Siri:


I love using the Due app because it will nag me every 30 minutes until I dismiss it.

Alternatively, I can use the Apple Reminders app:


I can snooze the reminder for another hour or mark the reminder as completed.


I’ve also taken to using my Apple Watch and set a 15 minute timer as a trigger to return back to my original work.

I switch between using the Due app (with its persistent repeating reminders) or just set a timer on my Apple Watch or iPhone to remind me to get back to work. I just need a trigger (any kind of trigger) to nudge me back to my original work plans. Otherwise, I’m more prone to visiting Twitter or my Netflix queue.

Yes, the Due app can be annoying but it’s saved my butt numerous times. I think that a 30 minute snooze is enough time for a nagging notification to appear without overly irritating me. I might think about doing 15 or 20 minutes next to see how much nagging I can handle. Everyone’s tolerance is different so 30 minutes sounds like a good compromise.

Falling off the bandwagon on a daily basis is a part of life. Getting back on the bandwagon more quickly is the part I’m trying to master. Interruptions often derails my original plans and I’m always looking for ways to get back on the saddle again. Have you encountered your own difficulties in getting back to work after dealing with an interruption? Have you just had trouble getting started on that project that’s pestering you and you’re just procrastinating? Hit me up with a reply and tell me how you’ve dealt with distractions.