The end result of GTDs process of sorting pieces of the puzzle – each piece is a task – is what David Allen calls the 5th Stage: DO – or ENGAGE – Every task is now organized, so you can focus on doing every one of them.
All the tasks that lie before us, each piece of the puzzle that is what we need to do is organized into a trusted system where we can move from one task to the next without needing to stop to think through what needs to be done.
It’s the ability to engage and execute without rethinking everything that saves us from wasting our time. Thinking in advance allows us to do what we need to do rapidly and effectively. David Allen suggests that it is different mental muscles that are used for the task of thinking about what to do and the task of actually needing to do it. That’s why thinking through everything in advance saves us so much time when it is time to actually do the work.
How much time can be saved? “Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution” – Brian Tracy
If this is true, 6 minutes of effective planning first thing in the morning will allow you to finish work that day an hour earlier. One hour of planning out tasks on Monday will decrease your work week by ten hours – more than a full day. If effective planning happens, no pastor should need to work more than 40 hours per week.
“If I had 10 minutes to cut down a tree, I’d spend 5 minutes sharpening my axe.”
The river of information flowing toward us – about people, about God, and about all we have to do as pastors continually threatens to overwhelm us. The first three habits of Stephen Covey’s system, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, help us to get our chaos under our control:
The first habit is to be proactive, which means to move toward what we need to address rather than procrastinate or live in denial. There’s a very great difference between avoiding a decision and deciding not to do something. The second habit is to begin with the end in mind, which means to clearly describe the end result desired. The third habit, first things first, means to work step by step toward that clearly defined end result.
And the end result of our GTD planning is a group of tasks that require no additional thinking or preparation before they can be done. One part of our mind does the planning and organizing. Another very different part can quickly move through a sequence of tasks that are ready to be done. The advantage in time saved by planning is to separate these two, get our tasks in order, and then be in “doing” mode without having to exit from action to return to finish with some planning that was ignored.
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