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How to Simplify Knowledge Work


Ever seen the movie Modern Times?

Yes, the Charlie Chaplin classic that drove home the mindlessness of the industrial era, without speaking a word.

In that hilarious screen masterpiece, Charlie is so numbed by turning screws that he keeps repeating the action, even when he’s away from the assembly line.

We may make fun of cranking widgets. But there was peace and certainty in not having to think.

In work that was cut and dried.

In work that ended sharply at 5 and didn’t travel home on your coattails (and your buzzing smartphone).

Isn’t Creativity Fun Though? 


Your job is more fulfilling than the metronomic actions of a factory drone.

You get to conceptualize projects. You are free to prioritize tasks and do them as you see fit. You get to step outside the box and interact with colleagues across departments. In short, you see the 50,000 foot view of how your efforts contribute to a larger cause.

It’s amazing.

But it is also stressful.

46% of Indian employees are overstretched and at their wit’s end. This number is even larger amongst entrepreneurs.

People who are said to “think for a living” are labeled Knowledge Workers and here’s a short list of all the problems they face on a regular basis.

  • They have to define their work. Bosses set the goals. The course has to be charted and navigated by them. This leads to confusion around “what to do”
  • They are receiving inputs from multiple sources. Emails, phone calls, memos and even passing mentions may have tasks lurking in them. The pressure to get clear on these invisible to-dos and perform better than everyone else is unbelievably high.
  • They feel stuck in the wrong place. An alarming side effect of the information overload and the inherent confusion is a perpetual sense of not being or doing right. When on a vacation, they are thinking of their next presentation. When they are in the boardroom, they are worried about the leaking faucet at home or the angry spouse. They aren’t at peace with themselves and they do not trust the decisions they take.
  • Work residue is real. Knowledge work is like soot. It’s presence is hard to get rid of. Most professionals aren’t present with themselves or their families because their minds are stuck in the office. Smartphones, computers and even WhatsApp groups keep sucking them back into pending discussions, excel sheets and progress updates.

How to Have Your Cake and Eat it Too: 

Getting Things Done® (GTD) is the critically acclaimed framework that gives you the gift of appropriate engagement.

Simply put it is the ability to focus a 100% on the task at hand, knowing you’re doing the right thing at the right time and everything else is suitably captured in an external system.

You can cherish the creativity and the freedom that sets you apart from the factory drone but at the same time you can switch off the chaos and the overwhelm that comes with those privileges.

Here are three ways in which GTD® turns volatile knowledge work into predictable cranking widgets.

  • From amorphous to well-defined. Getting Things Done® teaches you to turn vague commitments and to-dos into clearly defined projects, outcomes and Next Actions organized by the setting in which they the easiest to execute. This helps you start tasks without procrastination. And know what’s lined up for you the next day.
  • From firefighting to making trusted choices. Surprises can quickly escalate into disasters if there is no wriggle room in your calendar. Getting Things Done® offers you the secret sauce of The Three Fold Nature of Work. You develop the habit of regularly reviewing progress and building room into your schedule to tackle both opportunities and distractions. Ruffled and bothered no more!
  • From out of control to in the flow. You are operating at peak potential, only when you know that your mundane actions are well organized and you are clear on exactly why you are investing energy in a pursuit. This is the elusive control and perspective balance.

Getting Things Done® lets you stop micromanaging, shake off the “shiny object syndrome” and focus on what matters the most.

With Getting Things Done, you know exactly what to do.

And do it with all of your focus and attention…

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