I’ve been tagged by Brett of The Cranking Widgets Blog to post my single, most effective tip for productivity. Brett stole the first thing that came to my mind, so I’m going to take the next logical step.
Regularly process what you’ve written to extract any actionable items.
It does very little good to write everything down if you never review it and take steps to process it. "Processing" may mean different things to you depending on your personal system, but to me it means to make the canonical GTD decision: If it’s actionable, should I do it now, delegate it someone more appropriate, or defer it until some time down the road?
The "if it’s actionable" part is a biggie. One of the biggest changes that I’ve adopted this school year is taking fewer meeting notes and instead focusing on capturing items that require action. I sort of intuitively knew that most of my meeting notes went unread and eventually wound up just taking up space in a notebook or filing cabinet somewhere, but it didn’t really hit me until I read "Step 3" of Behance’s Action Method framework: "File Reference Items, Sparingly. Keep only the notes, articles, and sketches that you need. Avoid clutter."
So if it’s not actionable, it’s either a resource you need to keep (file it!) or something you don’t (toss it!). Figuring out the difference is where I’m focusing my personal improvement efforts right now. If you can do it "on the fly," you’ll avoid taking pages of notes you never look at again, and be able to spend more time focusing on the items that need your attention.
After writing things down, the biggest single thing that you can do to get more done is to process, process, process what you’ve written in order to glean any actionable items from your notes. I’m interested in hearing what other busy school administrator types think of as their biggest productivity tip so I’ll pass along this meme to Rick, Greg, and Brian. Hopefully they’ll find the time to indulge me on this one.