I have spoken before about my addiction to the fantastic Getting Things Done method on this blog (Early Morning Recycling, Thinking of quitting Recycling? 4 ways to get motivated again, Late Night Recycling), but I would like to highlight how it can be used to achieve your recycling goals.
If you have set yourself some recycling goals then you definitely do not need to start using the GTD methods and many people achieve a sustainable lifestyle without them. However, every tool that can give you an advantage when attempting to achieve your goals should be considered.
This is how I use GTD to help me achieve my sustainability goals.
- GTD helps you track your high-level goals. The actions you are doing every day towards those goals and how well they fit into your long term plans. Daily you can review the next actions you need to take in order to move your goals forward, weekly you review your projects and outline the next actions you want to take towards those higher goals and bi-weekly or monthly you review your long term vision and any new projects you want to start on. For me this breaks down into long term vision projects like creating a sustainable life for my family, high-level goals like Recycle all my plastic and daily actions such as donate old books to local school/charity shop.
- GTD forces you to break your goals into concrete next actions, which makes you think about what you actually need to do next to achieve your goals. For example, I drink a lot of coffee and one of the items I was thinking about is all those disposable coffee cups I currently recycle. What would be the next action I could take to improve this aspect of my recycling habits? ACTION: Purchase re-usable coffee cup for refills instead of using disposable cups.
- GTD forces you to think about the context you are in. One of the key aspects of GTD is the concept of understanding where you can actually do your actions. There is no point carrying around a list of 100 item actions you need to achieve as you would need to stop and re-assess what items you can do in each context. GTD helps by getting you to break your action items into context specific lists. For example, I use a notebook to record all my actions, checklists and books I want to read. In my notebook, I have specific pages for certain contexts like @HOME, @WORK, and @SHOPPING. This allows me to focus on only the action items that I can achieve in those contexts.
- GTD improves time allocation. Each evening I spend time reviewing my next actions, items I am waiting for and items I need to review for each of my projects, I then write out a small list of the Most Important Action Items I need to achieve the next day. I have found that having this list enables me to work through the items at some speed first thing in the morning leaving the rest of the day for me to focus on my higher level goals.
- GTD and fighting fires. After using GTD for a couple months now I have realized how much of my daily life used to be made up of fighting fires which interfered with my daily work. Because there was no structure to what I wanted to achieve that day I would just do the next thing that fell onto my plate whether or not it was the highest priority item I needed to achieve or not. Now with GTD I already have a list of the highest priority items I need to achieve for the day and I can assess these fire items against that list. If something falls on my desk which is considered urgent I can clearly see how it fits into my daily priority and whether or not it truly is as high a priority as first appears. This helps tremendously with time management and ensuring I complete the items that are most important to me personally first.
Let me summarize by saying that Getting Things Done is not magic and that it cannot make your goals come true without you actually doing the hard work of completing your actions. However, I have found it to be an extremely useful tool that really helps give focus to what is most important when trying to move towards completing your goals. As with everything it is just another tool that you need to master in order to become proficient at using it.
How does GTD help you with your recycling goals?
Let me know on Twitter.