Monday, 4 February 2008

Stack model for productivity

Even with the model of GTD (Getting Things Done) [see my previous posts], sometimes, we are a bit overwhelmed with a Next action such as clearing your desk because there seem to be some many objects on the desk, I suggest that you can break this task even further down by consider the atomic actions without even the effort to define them. I propose the stack model.

You can relate to a stack in whatever way you like, if you know anything about computer architecture, you can think about the stack model for assembler, whereas if you are familiar with washing dishes, you can think about washing dishes one by one as someone collects them from your kitchen table and piles them up for you to wash.

The main feature of the stack model is that you "push" and "pop" atomic objects, which are objects/actions which cannot be broken down any further, pushing meaning putting objects onto the stack and popping means taking objectcs away from the stack, the only rule is that you can only push to the top of the stack and you can only pop from the top of the stack.

Another cool feature about this model is the flexibility associated, since when you are processing and popping a particular task, you may stumble upon another immediate task, you push the new task onto the stack mentally or on a piece of paper, carry out this task, pop it, and go back to your original task, this is particularly useful since you know that there can be a lot of interruptions when we are doing anything.

Let's take an example of clearing your desk, you know that you objective is to clear the desk so that you can feel your environment being less cluttered and so that you can be more productive. First, you see a rubber/eraser, then you say to yourself, "push rubber", then you say to yourself, "this belongs to the pencil case", then you say to yourself, "pop rubber" as you find your pencil case and put your rubber there, then you proceed to your next object on your table. In this mechanical and robotic manner, you will find yourself accomplishing lots of these little tasks without effort! The core of this method is that you are only filling your mind with one object at a time, i.e. the rubber, and you are very unlikely to be overwhelmed by a single object this small!

Try this method out for yourself and you will be amazed by your productivity. However, use this method selectively, and you need make sure that you understand the bigger picture and that the tasks do actually serve a purpose instead of acting as a kind of distraction!

Tell me what you think. See the related entires on my blog.

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