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How to Be Ready for Life’s Challenges with GTD®


We all have problems. They could be problems with your health, at the office or in your relationships.

And once this set of problems are dealt with, more are waiting on the horizon. Guaranteed!

The question is when a problem hits us, how ready are we to deal with it?

Imagine a day when there’s a major crisis at work. You not only have to muster the mental energy to deal with the situation. But when you come home that evening, you have to spend time with your kids to prepare for their exams the following morning.

When faced with a life challenge, can you bring the appropriate attention that the situation demands to the table?

Or will you be forever struggling to focus on what’s in front of you because other areas of your life are not in order?

How to be Appropriately Engaged with Life

“Living consciously means taking responsibility for the awareness appropriate to the action in which we are engaged.” ~ Nathaniel Branden

We are so overwhelmed with work, so distracted by social Media, and so many things pulling at our attention that we end up over-reacting or under-reacting to life’s situations.

Imagine if we could be fully present in our life, and consciously choose how much attention to apply to each situation!

So when you’re in a tough negotiation, your eye is on the ball, and you’re not thinking of anything else. And when you’re with your kids, you’re fully present to their needs.

One of the GTD models that we’ve found very useful to help get to this place of “appropriate engagement” is the 3 fold nature of work.

3 Fold Nature of Work:

Work comes in 3 Flavours:

Planned Work

– Unplanned Work

– Defining Work

You can find an expanded explanation of each here.

Most of the time we’re either doing planned work like reviewing regular documents and attending scheduled meetings.

Or unplanned work which pops up without prior notice. Like a colleague interrupting your presentation preparation or a new client’s urgent request of a ‘meeting’.

What we often skip out on is “Defining Work”. Which means to decide what exactly needs to be done with all the things that have your attention. The more time we spend on defining work, the more ready we will be to handle surprises that are coming at us.

When a surprise hits us, how many unprocessed emails do you want in your inbox? How many nagging thoughts do you want in your head pulling at your attention?

Ideally: ZERO.

I’m not saying that once you define work, you won’t have anything left to do. What I’m saying is  that once work is properly identified, defined and scheduled for regular review, you won’t have ill-defined or vague notions of ‘something has to be done but I don’t know what’ distracting you.

So when something goes wrong or a problem surfaces, you will be able to devote 100% of your mental energy to the issue at hand. You will give it appropriate attention instead of reacting to it.

How Do You Define Work? Ask These Two Questions

For everything that’s actionable in you life ask:

  • What’s the next action?
  • What’s the successful outcome?

See examples of how to Clarify.

Create lists to hold the answers to these questions and review and update both these lists on a regular basis. It’ll help you have a clear mind, so that when a challenge blocks your way, you will meet it head on with full vigor getting it out of your life faster than ever before.

You will not over react or under-react. Instead you will have the freedom to consciously focus your attention on the issue and deal with it.

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