Getting Things Done With Google

Man walking past a whiteboard wall with a phone to his ear. The wall has the work Productivity written on it.
Photo by Andreas Klassen on Unsplash

I used to think about the word “busy” as a positive word. I would come home from work and my wife would ask me how my day was. I would reply, “busy”, like it was a good thing. It implied that I was always on the go. I was never short of things to do. I was working hard and doing as much as I could to fill my day. And then I thought about it. Many of those things were true, but I didn’t necessarily get a lot done. Here’s how I fixed that.

Busy vs. Productive

Busy meant I was constantly moving from one meeting to another, one email to another, or one school to another. However, it didn’t always mean I was getting a lot accomplished. It simply meant that I was busy. My time was being filled, but not always in the most efficient way possible, and on really “busy” days, I would come home, have dinner, and continue to work until bedtime because I had a list of outstanding things to do.

When I took time to reflect on that, I realized that “busy” was not what I should be striving for. Busy was not the goal. What I needed, was to be productive. These two words might sound like they mean the same thing, but in reality, they are very different. Productivity has a purpose. Busyness does not. In fact, at times, busyness borders on chaos, and nobody wants that.

Man sitting at a desk looking at a laptop screen with his hand resting on his head with a stressed look on his face.
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Introducing Getting Things Done

So here’s the deal. In order to be productive, you need to have a system. For me, the system I settled on was based on a book by David Allen called, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stree-Free Productivity. Getting Things Done (GTD) is a productivity system that was developed for the corporate world. Over the years it has grown and expanded to become something that was flexible enough for anyone to adapt and use.

It began life as an analog system, (paper notebooks, filing cabinets, and manila folders), but later editions of the book have included digital tools. The system itself was not written with educators in mind, but when you become familiar with the core values, you will soon realize that it’s as relevant to educators as it is to CEOs and hedge fund managers.

Here’s the elevator pitch. Your brain was not designed to hold all the open loops in your life. The post-it notes on your computer, that conversation you just had with the principal in the hallway, the dozens of emails in your inbox, the meeting you have with parents next week, the groceries you need to pick up on the way home, and the phone call you need to make after school will all drive you insane if you let them.

Enter GTD. It’s a system that was designed to store and organize all of these things. When everything is safely stored in a system that you trust, your brain is freed up for more creative endeavors. The video below shows how that looks in practice.

Getting Things Done With Google

This blog post is the first of a new series that is aimed at supercharging your productivity powers. Each post will show you actionable ways you can use the key tenets of GTD in the context of the Google apps that you already know and love. I will show you how Gmail, Drive, Calendar, Tasks and Keep can form a powerful alliance to make you more productive than ever before.

It’s time to say goodbye to busy. It’s time to start getting things done.

More From This Series

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