Getting Things Done has been developed by David Allen as “A Work-Life Management System… that transforms personal overwhelm and overload into an integrated system of stress-free productivity”.
Sounds a bit pompous doesn’t it? Put in my terms basically what it does is it allows me to organise and process projects/tasks in a set manner, it’s helped me to remember to do things, reply to emails/letters a lot faster than normal and remember where I’ve put things.
The GTD process is split into three basic categories; capture, define and organise. When you first start off using the GTD method you have to go through everything (and I mean everything) and place it in your “Inbox”, from there you sort through it one item at a time and decide on the “next action”.
To capture the information you literally bung it all in an in-tray or big box, this will then be the future repository for all further captured items.
Once an Item has been captured you need to define what it is and what you’re going to do with it, this is the “next action”.
The next action will depend on the item and whether you need to use it or not.
The next action could be:
- Do it immediately if it’ll take less than 2 minutes
- Delegate it
- Defer it
Even if there’s no obvious “next action” there will always be some form of action to take against it, i.e “Throw this junk mail in the bin” (action: chuck it), “Tom might like to see this, I’ll forward it” (action: Do it immediately as it’ll take less than 2 minutes), “I need to write an agenda but it doesn’t have to be done for a week” (Put it in your “tickler” file), “I’d like to read this magazine but I don’t have the time (Put it in your “Someday/Maybe” pile).
Organise what you’re waiting for from others, what you have deferred and what you have delegated to other onto action lists. This way you’ll not forget that Matt was supposed to have emailed you two days ago about the sales figures, or that you deferred writing your agenda notes until just before the meeting.
Only put proper calendar items in your calendar, never tasks – tasks change too often to keep track of and it’ll put you off your calendar for good!
Tickle Me Senseless
One final thing to touch one in this post is the “Tickler file“. This is a list of deferred items (agenda in the example above) this is just as important as your inbox and calendar and should definitely be considered part of your weekly review. It is made up of file folders from 1-31 that contains all the date related stuff you have to accomplish on that day. I haven’t got this far yet as such but I’m working on an electronic version which should help me just as much.
Interested in learning more about Getting Things Done? Buy the book from Amazon.com here (affiliate link)
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