No matter what productivity methodology you use to be productive (GTD, ZTD etc), all of them involve making to-do lists. How well you make your to-do list is directly proportional to your productivity levels. Here are 2 key principles you need to know:
1. In in the task, identify the next action clearly.
I had a tendency to add Projects to my To-Do lists, as a result I would face a lot of resistance in taking that project forward. I had to learn to keep my Projects on a separate list, and only have Next Actions on my To-Do list. There’s a certain magic and a feeling of lightness that comes when you identify clearly in each task what the Next Action is to take. So ensure that you do not have any projects listed on your to-do list, but you have the next visible next action listed. If your project is “Prepare the report on impact of carbon emission on the environment”, your next action would be something like “Search Google for the latest news on Carbon emission”.
2. Always start the task with a ‘Verb’. Read, Email, Call etc
By starting the task with a verb it forces you to clearly define what you need to do to perform the next action. The more clearly you’re able to visualize the next action, the easier it will become to perform it.
Once of the main reasons why we procrastinate on our projects is because of the high resistance we face when confronted with huge projects to work on. But the reality is that we never work on the project, we always work on “Next Actions”. Any project that we work on, it’s always about making a phone call, drafting an email, meeting a person, installing software. Once the next action is clearly defined, it fizzles away the resistance allowing you to move forward on the project.