Plan and Do: Steps Four and Five of Getting Things Done

After you have collected, organized, and reviewed all of the “stuff” in your life, it’s time to plan your day and do the things that you need to do. Luckily these last couple of steps are super simple.


  1. Sit down and schedule 5-10 hours per week that works with your schedule that you can designate as “work time.” If you find yourself needing to work outside of “work time”, add a bit more. This time can be flexible as your schedule changes, but by in large, treat it like a doctor’s appointment. Miss it, and you may fall apart. During this time, concentrate on knocking things off your to-do list. Keep a list of “someday maybe” things like updating a resume, looking for jobs, brushing up on skills, etc. so that if you have a light week you can work on these things.
  2. List out all of the work due for classes that week. This includes both traditional homework (e.g., reading assignments, problem sets), as well as studying for tests and writing papers.
  3. Look for bigger projects things like longer papers, exams, etc.
  4. Break up each of these assignments into specific actions, each requiring no more than 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Assign deadlines to each action for the upcoming week. Even if something isn’t due, tell yourself when you will have it done. Be smart about how you do this. If a day is already busy, don’t pile on too many assignments.
  6. Put each action in a slot in your “work time.”

Doing (During your “Work Time”)

Do the work that you have to do! I usually work with the Pomodoro Method. There are plenty of apps and things for this, but basically you work for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break. For each 25 minute session, concentrate on one thing and don’t get distracted. If you get distracted, start the timer over. After every four 25-minute sessions, you take a 15 minute break. During your breaks, be sure to get up and move. Make yourself a cup of coffee, get a breath of fresh air, stretch a bit. Don’t just check Facebook or stay seated. Wait for your 15 minute break to check any social media. Work for the duration of your “work time.”
The less work you do at night, the better.
To put it simply:
  • it’s clear that you have more energy during the day (so you finish stuff faster);
  • you don’t have as many free hours at night as you think; your focus leaves you quickly at night, making work more painful; and
  • night is when you can have fun and enjoy your college experience, you don’t want to waste it in the library if you don’t absolutely have to.

That’s it! It’s a simple process that you can use to take control of a complicated and overwhelming time of your life. If you have any questions about this method, don’t hesitate to email me at jacob.t.fisher@ttu.edu.

Check out steps that you may have missed!

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