Have you ever felt like you had everything under control but then got thrown off by an unexpected change in schedule? Do you struggle to maintain your task management system when you are under stress or become especially busy? Are you plagued by thoughts of things you want to remember while you are trying to focus on something important? If so, you may be expending more energy on remembering and organizing your tasks than you spend completing them.
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Sound like all other run-of-the-mill to-do list systems, you say? So please read on. One of the basic assumptions of GTD is that you are dumb—or, rather, that your subconsciousness is quite dumb when it comes to thinking about things you should do.
Pretend your brain is a white board. Is there space for drawing and combining ideas? What GTD gives you—when understood and implemented properly—is a foolproof system for keeping track of what you need to do, should do, or should consider to do. When your system and your trust in your system is in place, your subconsciousness will stop keeping track of all the things you need to do and stop constantly reminding you. This reduces stress and frees up precious brain time to more productive thinking—maybe it even saves real time so that you have more time for ballet lessons, painting classes, and roller-blading.
So how does it actually work? It works by using special yoga techniques and daily mental exercises. No, haha! Just kidding. It works by simply maintaining lists, which every kid with paper and a pencil can do. Even computers can maintain lists these days! These lists will be reviewed regularly and form the backbone of the GTD system.
Their workings are described below. In addition to the lists you will need a calendar which lets you write down date and time sensitive tasks and events. The in list is where you capture ideas and tasks as they occur to you. This can be your boss telling you to bake her a carrot cake, or seeing a poster for a circus you want to see.
The barrier for adding something to your in list should be as low as possible—jot it down in a notebook or press the right buttons on your smartphone. While I have called it the in list, It is no problem to have more than one. Maybe an app for when you are in front of a computer and a notebook for when you loiter outside the mall? The important thing is that you are able to write down things as they occur to you. We want to offload work from the brain, remember?
When you first start to use GTD you should take an hour to write down all things you want to—or have to—do. Do you need to replace your toothbrush? Return the tea cup you borrowed from your aunt? Should you repaint your bed in another colour? All these things should go on your in list. From now on the in list will be processed continuously. The items on your in list should be processed one by one in the order they appear on your list.
When processing an item in your in list the first question you need to ask is: is it actionable? Yes, sort of. Yes, even the weird name. When you have determined the next action, you should consider if it takes less than two minutes to do it. If this is the case: do it. Right away. The reason for this is simple: if the action takes two minutes or less, the overhead of tracking it will be large compared to how long it takes to just do it. If it takes more than two minutes you should delegate it if appropriate—noting what was delegated, and when—on a waiting for list, or add it to your own next actions list of things you want to do as soon as you have the time and energy.
Unless your secret superpower is delegation, next actions is probably where most things will end up. If the open loop will take more than one action to close, the overall goal should also be noted on a projects list which will be explained in a few sections. To summarize, when processing your in list s , you should follow this procedure:. Well, uh… a list of your next actions, obviously. That was 32 days ago!
Yes, it kinda would. It defines any objective that requires more than one action to complete as a project. These projects should go on your projects list. This list is simply a list of project titles and—if you like—descriptions and intended outcomes of the projects. If so: that is amazing! We live in the future!
How many contexts you need depend on how many next actions you will have and how your work day looks like. The important thing is to be able to assess—at a glance—what your possible actions are depending on where you physically are and what equipment you have available.
Remember that the next actions only contains the things that should be done as soon as possible and that your projects list will be reviewed regularly to make sure that all projects have at least one next action.
This list simply contains ideas and projects you might want to realize at some time in the future. This list should be reviewed weekly along with the rest of the system as described in the section on the weekly review below.
The calendar is for things you have to do on a certain date or at a certain time—and nothing else! If you start using the GTD framework and you are not a robot, things will start to slip. The weekly review should be done—you guessed it—once per week. It will take a while, so you should ideally set off some time probably at least 30 minutes in advance, for example Friday or Sunday afternoons. When doing the weekly review you should at least do the following:.
A trigger list could look like the following:. When working through your trigger list, put anything that you remember in your in list to be processed afterwards. You probably want to customize your own list as you get more experience and learn what works best for you. As you start getting comfortable with using GTD you can be a bit more lenient if you believe that it would be better. The idea is to have this material available whenever you have a few minutes to kill. Both are perfect opportunities to peruse the paper on Periophthalmus modestus phylogeny or pretend to read the memo from your boss!
Only the things you actually want to read when you have the time should be put in this folder so that you actually will pick it up during those little windows of free time that show up during the day. This strangely-named concept is simply a collection of 43 file folders. Why 43? Because that means that you can have one for each of the 31 days of a month plus one for each of the 12 months of the year.
So what are these folders used for? Every day when you get up, you open the folder with the current date. At the end of each month, you open the folder for the new month and deal with its contents—like putting items in the correct day folders.
The tickler file thus provides a way to send yourself reminders in the future— tickling your memory. This run-through of the GTD method is meant to be brief. Jessica Kerr put it perfectly: Pretend your brain is a white board.
GTD Implementation: The Ultimate Hack To Getting Things Done
Sound like all other run-of-the-mill to-do list systems, you say? So please read on. One of the basic assumptions of GTD is that you are dumb—or, rather, that your subconsciousness is quite dumb when it comes to thinking about things you should do. Pretend your brain is a white board. Is there space for drawing and combining ideas? What GTD gives you—when understood and implemented properly—is a foolproof system for keeping track of what you need to do, should do, or should consider to do. When your system and your trust in your system is in place, your subconsciousness will stop keeping track of all the things you need to do and stop constantly reminding you.
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