A five-step tech­nique from the world of busi­ness could be key to un­lock­ing po­ten­tial,

Hayes & Harlington Gazette - - Family Matters - says LISA SALMON

BE­ING a teenager was never easy, but to­day’s teens face un­prece­dented lev­els of pres­sure, fac­ing both new stresses like so­cial me­dia and age-old prob­lems like exam stress and pu­berty.

How­ever, a new book aims to help teenagers by show­ing them how to use a sim­ple yet suc­cess­ful busi­ness strat­egy to nav­i­gate the tsunami of dis­trac­tions life throws at them, help­ing them feel in con­trol by be­ing or­gan­ised.

Get­ting Things Done for Teens out­lines a com­mon-sense way of iden­ti­fy­ing goals and projects and cop­ing with the com­plex­i­ties of day-to-day life through a sim­ple five-step sys­tem of writ­ten lists and map­ping, plus in­struc­tions on how to clearly fo­cus on achiev­ing both small and large goals in an or­derly fash­ion.

One of the book’s au­thors, David Allen, says Get­ting Things Done, or GTD, is a way of learn­ing to be­come fo­cused and en­gaged with the present, be­ing aware of what’s next, and find­ing sta­bil­ity when things feel out of con­trol.

“What can you do to take con­trol of your life in a dis­tract­ing world?” he asks. “These time­less pro­duc­tiv­ity tips can be used to re­duce stress, in­crease self­con­fi­dence, and get things done in school and life.”


DAVID, who wrote this book with Mike Wil­liams and Mark Wal­lace, af­ter first writ­ing the Get­ting Things Done work-life man­age­ment sys­tem book, says the ini­tial five steps of GTD can be done alone by a teenager, or to­gether with a par­ent. All you need is pa­per, a pen and 15 min­utes.


AT least once a day, write down on a piece of pa­per the stuff on your mind that has your at­ten­tion. The au­thors call this a mindsweep. Set a timer for five min­utes and see how much stuff you can cap­ture.


THE clar­ify process takes one item on the pa­per at a time. Teenagers need to de­cide whether it’s ac­tion­able, and if so, write down the very next ac­tion on an ac­tions list. Com­plete this for ev­ery item cap­tured on the mindsweep list.

“We also like to call this the trans­former tool, as it trans­forms stuff into ac­tion­able or non­ac­tion­able items,” says David, who points out it may take about 10 min­utes to clar­ify all your ‘stuff’. STEP 3: OR­GAN­ISE FIND a trusted place to store the ac­tion list you’ve just cre­ated. It can be a pa­per list or a dig­i­tal list on your phone or com­puter so that you can re­fer to it when needed.


LOOK back at all the ac­tions on your ac­tion list. Re­flect for a few mo­ments and then select an ac­tion that needs your at­ten­tion first. Cir­cle it.


COM­PLETE the ac­tion you have iden­ti­fied. Re­peat the process for the rest of your life.

“The Five Steps is a start­ing point for the GTD jour­ney,” says David.

AF­TER gain­ing con­trol through the five steps, the au­thors say teenagers need to look at their six lev­els of fo­cus, which are:

Pur­pose: Teenagers need to write down why they’re here, and this

can be changed re­peat­edly on a ‘pur­pose map’.

Vi­sion: This in­volves writ­ing down on a ‘vi­sion map’ what young peo­ple would like to see them­selves do­ing if they were wildly suc­cess­ful in the com­ing years. This can in­clude who the teen will be, who they’ll be with, and what they’ll be do­ing – ba­si­cally, a map of their ideal fu­ture.

Goals: What do the pur­pose and vi­sion maps in­spire you to do this year? These should gen­er­ally be larger as­pi­ra­tions with a more im­me­di­ate time frame – for ex­am­ple get­ting in the school foot­ball team.

These goals should be writ­ten down and checked off when they’re achieved.

Ar­eas of Fo­cus: This is a list of the ma­jor parts of a teenager’s life that con­tin­u­ally need their at­ten­tion.

These ar­eas can change over time, and will in­clude things like fam­ily, school/col­lege, and ac­tiv­i­ties. Projects and Ac­tions: Projects may be well-de­fined, like ‘English home­work in on Fri­day’, or some­thing teenagers have to make hap­pen, like ‘get a sum­mer job’.

Write these down. Ac­tions are then the phys­i­cal, vis­i­ble ac­tions needed to get the projects done.


THE fi­nal stage of the GTD process is the plan­ning map, which aims to help teenagers work their way through any sit­u­a­tion by out­lin­ing the nat­u­ral steps the mind au­to­mat­i­cally goes through when some­one wants to ac­com­plish some­thing.

These in­clude defin­ing the pur­pose, brain­storm­ing, or­gan­is­ing and iden­ti­fy­ing the next ac­tions.

“The prac­tice of gain­ing con­trol of your life is sim­ple and pow­er­ful,” stresses David.

“If you prac­tise and mas­ter these sim­ple steps, you’ll know how to gain con­trol, lose it, and gain con­trol again. It will boost your self-con­fi­dence, re­duce your stress, and in­crease your cre­ativ­ity.

“You don’t have to take our word for it. The best way to un­der­stand is to give it a try – let ex­pe­ri­ence be your teacher.”

Talk to your child about long-term as­pi­ra­tions

Not­ing down tasks, goals and plans of ac­tion can help or­der the busy lives of to­day’s teens

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