Getting Things Done – Part 1

So the first expert method I’m hitting up is the ubiquitous “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. I already apply several of these techniques to my own work and personal life, but I am always looking to tweak and improve.

His workflow can basically be broken down into the following steps:
collect – process – act

Of course, there’s much more to it than that – since the book is several hundred pages, but that’s the gist.

– capture all information in “containers” (physical in-boxes, note taking/lists, electronic systems, etc)
– every open loop must be in your system
– “collection” system must be emptied, regularly, item by item

– is it actionable?
– NO: then it goes into the trash or into either a tickler (future project) file or reference/information file
– YES: is it a project (more than one step)? if so, what is the outcome? what is the next action?
Capture projects on separate projects list
If it’s a one-step action item, put it on the action item (to-do list), where you will do it, delegate it or defer it

So, basically we’re looking at a few categories for all of your data:
– action item list (consisting of singular actions – i.e. make vet appointment, follow up on printing order, etc)
– calendar (where you put time-specific actions such as meetings/appointments and information needed for these appointments)
– project list (a main list consisting of multi-step projects and intended outcome which will be broken out into individual action items and then added to your daily action item list according to when they need to get done)
– individual project files (where you keep all pertinent information applicable to the projects on your list)
– tickler file (stuff you want to get to eventually, but either don’t have the time, inclination or all of the information to begin)
– reference/information file (stuff that is not actionable, but that you need to save for future reference)
– TRASH (duh)

Well, seems rather complicated when it’s all written out – but I’ve gone ahead and started a project list, a tickler file and a reference file. I already have the to do list and calendar – which I am not embarrassed to say – is totally analog. The action of physically writing things down is extremely satisfying to me. At any rate, since we just started this week, I’ll keep the blog updated with the outcomes.

I’ll start with the filing system – coming soon in a subsequent post.

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