We write a fair bit about what works in GTD and getting things going when you’re getting things done. Here are 9 ways to screw your system up from gtd.marvelz.com, based on their experiences. It’s not hard to fall into these traps, so keep weary if you’re in it for the long run.
1. Collecting and processing but not doing! I’m not actually getting (enough) things done! I’m keeping track of all the open loops in my life, but somehow I don’t close enough of them.
2. Reviewing infrequently. If you do not update and review your trusted GTD system as often as you need to, you will end up with an incomplete and untrusted system.
3. Playing with your system. If you’re anything like me, you probably also spent quite some time in choosing and perfecting your analog and digital GTD tools.
4. Keeping stuff out of your system. Doing next actions or even whole projects that are not even listed in your GTD system, makes you feel you didn’t accomplish anything during the day because there is no record of it in your GTD system!
5. Using your diary for next actions. It is a common habit for many people to jot down a quick to-do list in their diary for the current or upcoming day.
6. Too many inboxes. I am trying to keep my physical inbox (a simple tray) central in my GTD system. My snail mail, my notes, my bills, all of it goes straight into my in-tray.
7. From tickler to inbox… and back again. I encounter some item in my inbox, realize I don’t really know (or don’t want to know!) what to do with it right now, so I stuff it into my tickler file some days or weeks into the future.
8. No project outcome. A GTD project list is very useful, but can easily become useless if you let it turn into a “dead” list. Don’t put stuff on your project list just to get it out of your mind.
9. Writing about GTD.
Notice any you might be doing? What are some other traps you can fall into that will sabotage your GTD process?
The brain is a tangled web of information. We don’t remember single facts, but instead we interlink everything by association. Anytime we experience a new event, our brains tie the sights, smells, sounds and our own impressions together into a new relationship.
Our brain remembers things by repetition, association, visual imagery, and all five senses. By knowing a bit about how the brain works, we can become better learners, absorbing new information faster than ever.
Here are some study tips to help get you started:
1. Use Flashcards
Our brains create engrained memories through repetition. The more times we hear, see, or repeat something to ourselves, the more likely we are to remember it.
Flashcards can help you learn new subjects quickly and efficiently. Flashcards allow you to study anywhere at any time. Their portable nature lends them to quick study sessions on the bus, in traffic, at lunch, or in the doctor’s office. You can always whip out your flashcards for a quick 2 to 3 minute study session.
To create effective flashcards, you need to put one point on each flashcard. Don’t load up the entire card with information. That’s just overload. Instead, you should dedicate one concept to each card.
One of the best ways to make flashcards is to put 1 question on the front and one answer on the back. This way, you can repeatedly quiz yourself into you have mastered any topic of your choice.
Commit to reading through your flash cards at least 3 times a day and you will be amazed at how quickly you pick up new information.
As Tony Robbins says,
“Repetition is the mother of skill”.
2. Create the Right Environment
Often times, where you study can be just as important as how you study. For an optimum learning environment, you’ll want to find a nice spot that is fairly peaceful. Some people can’t stand a deafening silence, but you certainly don’t want to study near constant distractions.
Find a spot that you can call your own, with plenty of room to spread out your stuff. Go there each time you study and you will find yourself adapting to a productive study schedule. When you study in the same place each time, you become more productive in that spot because you associate it with studying.
3. Use Acronyms to Remember Information
In your quest for knowledge, you may have once heard of an odd term called “mnemonics”. However, even if you haven’t heard of this word, you have certainly heard of its many applications. One of the most popular mnemonic examples is “Every Good Boy Does Fine”. This is an acronym used to help musicians and students to remember the notes on a treble clef stave.
An acronym is simply an abbreviation formed using the intial letters of a word. These types of memory aids can help you to learn large quantities of information in a short period of time.
4. Listen to Music
Research has long shown that certain types of music help you to recall information. Information learned while listening to a particular song can often be remembered simply by “playing” the songs mentally in your head.
5. Rewrite Your Notes
This can be done by hand or on the computer. However, you should keep in mind that writing by hand can often stimulate more neural activity than when writing on the computer.
Everyone should study their notes at home but often times, simply re-reading them is too passive. Re-reading your notes can cause you to become disengaged and distracted.
To get the most out of your study time, make sure that it is active. Rewriting your notes turns a passive study time into an active and engaging learning tool. You can begin using this technique by buying two notebooks for each of your classes. Dedicate one of the notebooks for making notes during each class. Dedicate the other notebook to rewriting your notes outside of class.
6. Engage Your Emotions
Emotions play a very important part in your memory. Think about it. The last time you went to a party, which people did you remember? The lady who made you laugh, the man who hurt your feelings, and the kid who went screaming through the halls are the ones you will remember. They are the ones who had an emotional impact.
Fortunately, you can use the power of emotion in your own study sessions. Enhance your memory by using your five senses. Don’t just memorize facts. Don’t just see and hear the words in your mind. Create a vivid visual picture of what you are trying to learn.
For example, if you are trying to learn the many parts of a human cell, begin physically rotating the cell in your minds eye. Imagine what each part might feel like. Begin to take the cell apart piece by piece and then reconstruct it. Paint the human cell with vivid colors. Enlarge the cell in your mind’s eye so that it is now six feet tall and putting on your own personal comedy show. This visual and emotional mind play will help deeply encode information into your memory.
7. Make Associations
One of the best ways to learn new things is to relate what you want to learn with something you already know. This is known as association, and it is the mental glue that drives your brain.
Have you ever listened to a song and been flooded by memories that were connected to it? Have you ever seen an old friend that triggered memories from childhood? This is the power of association.
To maximize our mental powers, we must constantly be looking for ways to relate new information with old ideas and concepts that we are already familiar with.
You can do this with the use of mindmapping. A mind map is used to diagram words, pictures, thoughts, and ideas into a an interconnected web of information. This simple practice will help you to connect everything you learn into a global network of knowledge that can be pulled from at any moment.
Learn more about mindmapping here: How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)