Top Tips

Task lists get longer and days seem to get shorter. Here are some tips to make the most of your working hours.

01 Write tasks down

02 Prepare to do list the day before: during sleep, you will start dealing with them unconsciously

03 Prioritize three tasks to be the Most Important Task (MIT) when planning your day

04 Closed your email software when concentrating on a task

05 Do one task at the time - stay focus

06 Race against the clock

07 Learn how you work best

08 Find your motivation - see this article

09 Make a NOT to do list: remove some apps from your phone, stop checking some wesites


One of the main GTD principle: write down your tasks.

  • By having tasks written down, it frees up your working memory
  • You can plan: prioritize tasks, set due date, write down smallest task to start a project, brainstorm, add notes
  • Having a plan helps to alleviate the stress and helps moving forward
  • You can check off tasks when done
  • Keep notes for later

Stop multi-tasking

I used to be proud of being able to multi-task until I read productivity blogs.

  • It takes about 10 minutes to switch between tasks so better stick with only one at the time if you can
  • Once you are in the flow, doing becomes enjoyable
  • We think we can multi-task but our brain cannot multi-task: it can only process information sequentially

Race against the clock

Set up a time when task needs to be completed by, but don't stress too much about it:

  • I never do a task quicker than when I have to leave at a fixed time, go to a meeting or catch a train
  • You will stop wasting time pondering each word or sentence
  • Even if it is only a draft due to time constraint, review afterwards: quality will improve as your unconscious mind will keep on thinking about what you have written so far
  • Best applied to documents and emails

Know yourself

Find out how you work best and plan your tasks accordingly.

  • Are you a marathoner or a sprinter? (listen to this podcast). Personally, I need deadlines
  • Are you a starter or a finisher: I am better at reviewing someone else's work and improve it than at starting a new document. If I have to write a new document, I find a similar document (might just be a template) and start modifying it
  • Are you an early riser or do you prefer the calm of the night (see article) ? Choose the time of the day to do your high mental tasks accordingly

Listen to music

  • Depending on the task, listening to music blocks other non-work related thoughts and help to concentrate
  • If you are in a noisy office environment, use headphones and music to block other people conversation, phone calls
  • Will get you in a better mood

Write a draft

When we are at school we learn to:

  • Plan our text: introduction, bullets point that we can re-organize later, conclusion
  • Problem solving: use diagrams, symbols, underline important information to help our thinking

We should still use these principles when writing an email, a document or brainstorming a task.

Food for thought

About ThinkingRock

ThinkingRock is developed by Avente Pty Ltd, an Australian registered company.

ThinkingRock is not affiliated with or endorsed by the David Allen Company.

Getting Things Done® and GTD® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company.

Read more about the ThinkingRock team in this interview on the Netbeans website

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