Every so often, I re-read one my favorite books, Getting Things Done by David Allen. I always glean more tidbits each time I read it. Getting Things Done (aka GTD) is a method of organizing your priorities, your schedule and the things you want/need to do. If done correctly, there are many benefits:
- you’ll be able to get things out of your head and documented so you won’t worry about them
- as a result, you shouldn’t have sleepless nights worrying that you forgot to do something
- you can see everything you want/need to get done
- by seeing this, it will help you make better decisions regarding what to work on next, and,
- accomplish more of the critical things you want/need to do
For those of you who have never read it, or perhaps it’s been a while, I’d like to summarize his 5 major steps for you…
You need to collect & document all your incompletes… the things you want/need to do. Collect them whether they’re in your in-box, on paper-based notes, on your e-devices (phone, laptop, tablet, etc.), email, in your head, etc. This should include everything from daily tasks to phone calls to projects you need to complete now, to goals you want to achieve sometime in the future. Where should you document them? Anywhere you want (smartphone, journal, notebook, etc.) The key is that whatever you use, it has to be something you’ll have access to 24/7…. something that will be At Your Fingertips all the time! Personally I use a cloud-based GTD app called OmniFocus so that I can update it via my iPhone, computer or tablet whether I’m at work, at home or vacationing!
Once you have your list, you then have to clarify each item so you’re clear. For example, if one of your to-do items is “clear out spare bedroom”, that’s too vague. Seeing that on your list can be overwhelming and cause you to put it off because you don’t know what it entails. You have to break it down into clear and concise actionable steps. As Mr. Allen points out… once you’ve completed this step, if done correctly, you will have:
- trashed what you don’t need
- completed any actions that take less than 2 minutes
- sorted reminders of those actions that will take more than 2 minutes
- handed off those tasks that can be delegated, and,
- identified larger projects
In this step, you’ll organize your to-do’s into a system that is an overview (both large and small) of all your present and “someday” projects. His workflow diagram shows distinct categories into which things will go as you decide what they are and what needs to be done about them. They include:
- a “Projects” list
- Project support material
- Calendared actions and information
- “Next Actions” lists
- a “Waiting For” list
- Reference Material
- a “Someday/Maybe” list
4. Review: This is where you take a look at your outstanding tasks, projects, etc., at the 10,000 foot level on a weekly basis to keep it current and functional.
5. Do!: Now it’s time to dive in. At this point, your system should be set up so it’s easy to decide what your next step is. Your to-dos should be organized by priority and placed in categories so you know what to work on, and when. They’re broken into manageable, bite-sized chunks that are easy to complete.
My advice is to read his book and practice, practice, practice. Is it easy? NO! Is it worth it? YES!
It may take several attempts before you feel 100% comfortable with your results, but in my humble opinion, it’s definitely worth the investment of your time and energy.
“Things rarely get stuck because of lack of time. They get stuck because the doing of them has not been defined.” ~ David Allen ~
Brenda Tringali, Organizing, Productivity & HR Specialist
At Your Fingertips Organizing
Serving Greater Myrtle Beach, SC or “virtually” anywhere (via phone/video)
Brenda Tringali is the owner of At Your Fingertips Organizing. She provides Life/Workplace/Residential Organizing & Productivity services to clients in the Myrtle Beach, SC area & “virtually” anywhere via video, phone, etc. Drawing from her 30 years of Human Resources/Staffing experience, she also helps clients with HR/Staffing/Job Search needs as well. Brenda is an active member of NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing professionals). She is also Chair of the NAPOCares Committee which highlights the community outreach efforts of NAPO members, NAPO Chapters, and NAPO Business Partners as they reach out to share the three “T’s” of Social Responsibility: their Time, Treasures, and Talents.