Bad-Ass Execution Principles

Don Fornes of Software Advice recently published his Bad-Ass Execution Principles which is based on David Allen’s classic text on organization and productivity, Getting Things Done. One of the great things about GTD is the core concepts can be applied using everything from paper and pencil to today’s modern cloud/mobile tools. It all depends on how you and your company work to best apply the GTD principles to your situation.

Don has adapted these principles to fit their company culture and to reflect the use of online applications like Basecamp, Gmail and Google Calendar. He calls it Bad-Ass Execution Principles.

Getting Stuff Done

Write everything down. Getting things out of your head and onto paper will help you remember them–and documenting everything in one place will help you stay organized. Software Advice uses a web-based project management application called Basecamp to keep track of projects and to-dos.

Break up your projects into next steps. Large projects can seem insurmountable. Breaking them up into actionable items and next steps can help you focus on the task at hand and work through projects systematically.

Immediately deliver value. When assigned a project, it’s important to try to deliver something right away. This will help you get feedback early on, to make sure you’re on the right track and prevent you from investing too much effort in the wrong direction.

Aim for quick wins. A small, positive accomplishment at the beginning of a new project will help establish trust and authority, as well as give your project a kick-start.

Google it! You want employees to feel comfortable asking questions when they need to, but if something is easily researched online, they should be resourceful and solve some problems on their own. This saves management valuable time, and builds problem-solving skills and shows initiative for employees.


“Projects” list. Create a list of your projects in one place: paper lists, iPhone notes, or web-based apps will work.

“Next Actions” list. This is a list of the very next step you will take for each project, including emails, phone calls and meetings.

● “Waiting For” list. Track what you are waiting on from others by creating this list in addition to your personal task list. This will help you stay aware of when you need to follow-up with someone.

Keep your inbox clean. Don’t let emails pile up. Is an email actionable? Add it to your “Next Actions” list. If an email isn’t actionable, you should archive it.

Track dates and actions on your calendar. Deadlines, appointments and actions (day-specific and time-specific) should be added to your calendar. Sign up for notifications so that you can get a reminder when the required action is due.

Review your project lists every day. Be sure to look over your calendar and lists every day. As you complete your projects, mark off the tasks. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and keep you organized.

As you can see Don has done an excellent job in melding GTD with the culture and tools of Software Advice. How do you implement GTD at your workplace?

About Michael Keithley

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