About productivity, well-being and Getting Things Done: a talk with Morten Røvik
Updated: Sep 23
We’ve had the pleasure of talking with a Getting Things Done® (GTD) master trainer, Morten Røvik, to pick his mind and see what he has to say about productivity, well-being and ways to achieve your goals.
You can find the full audio from the interview here.
Morten has been a productivity trainer since 2009 and since then has helped a lot of people find their balance and become more efficient while not losing themselves.
“I started back in 2006, it was the watershed moment for me because I got a new job as the managing director for an IT consultancy here in Norway.”
Morten became overwhelmed with the amount of tasks and responsibilities. The work, as he describes, was the most complex one he had had so far. That’s how his story began. His curiosity brought him to explore methodologies and he found himself intrigued with different techniques and strategies. That's how he found the GDT book and started listening to it.
“I tried sticky notes and popup-reminders in Outlook and that worked so-so.”
He needed a more holistic approach to manage all the input and commitments.
“It's fairly easy to understand the logic in it, but taking it from logic until it's an integrated part of your life and routine - that's another ball game. It takes time.”
STOP ABUSING YOUR BRAIN
Morten is all about finding balance, as the importance of it touches him personally. In 1999/2000, he suffered a burnout syndrome.
“I went into a very dark place, because I had too many commitments,
I had a lot of negative stress.”
How do you prevent it?
Focus on blocking all distractions To stay in your zone you need to stop external and internal distractions.
Stop abusing your brain You don’t have to remember any of your commitments. Use the tools to help yourself, put everything on paper, get it out of your mind and always remind yourself that not having it in your brain doesn’t mean not getting it done
Stop multitasking It’s proven to do more harm than good and if you want to learn the facts, we wrote about it here
ANNOYED WITH YOUR TASKS?
Morten believes you should always ask yourself what’s important and why you are doing it. The answers to that question may vary - maybe it’s because the company needs it to be done? And you like working there, so it’s beneficial to you. Maybe you have to finish it before jumping to another task you like? Whatever it may be, remember to remind yourself about the purpose.
As a productivity trainer, Morten listed the essential actions that need to be taken in order to use the systematic approach.
Capture everything that has your attention
Clarify what it means to you
Organize it into your own system
Reflect on your system on regular basis
Engage with your system on regular basis
“If you do that, you have a system that works for you, and then you have a trusted place to go to look at all your commitments that you need to do something about. You can make qualified decisions on what should go on your list for what I should do today.”
So what does it mean in practice? Make a list of all the things that are supposed to be done. Think about them and assess their importance/relevance. Prioritize. Doing it day by day should give you a good overview of your productivity and workload. Check on your system every week to adjust if needed. And remember - too many commitments mean stress, so don’t be afraid to say “no” if you think you can’t handle more, or it’s not in your job description. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t keep up with all of your responsibilities - 80% is often good enough and wanting to make everything perfect is stopping you from doing more.
“Perfection is the enemy of progress.”
WHEN YOU’RE DONE, YOU’RE DONE
It’s important to set specific hours of working. Take breaks and timebox wherever you can. It can be confusing if you work from home, so starting and ending your day with a ritual might be a good way to approach it. Take a walk before and after office hours. Shut your laptop close with a song in your head. Whistle to yourself. Whatever it may be - it will help you with the feeling of never-ending busyness. As Morten mentioned - when you’re done, you’re done.
LET’S TEACH IT
One of Morten’s biggest regrets is that he could have learned all of that earlier. In his opinion, systematic approach of handling tasks and responsibilities should be taught at schools and starting at a very young age. The obstacle we face as adults is our set ways that are not easy to change. Going from procrastination to an efficient and productive person is a tough undertaking. Don’t be scared of asking for help. We all need teachers. Using the tools is the first step, but you need someone to show you how to use them effectively. Improve. Educate yourself. Everything brings you closer to achieving your ideal setup.
If you’re interested in hearing the full conversation with Morten Røvik,
you can listen to it here.