???? My reading notes for getting things done – Part 3.

GTD is now shorthand for an entire way of approaching professional and personal tasks, and has spawned an entire culture of organizational tools, seminars, and offshoots. Incubate. There will probably be things in your in tray about which you will say to yourself, There’s nothing to do on this now, but there might be later.

What do you do with these kinds of things? There are two options that could work. Write them on a someday, maybe list. Put a reminder of them on your calendar or in a tickler file. It’s fine to decide not to decide about something. You just need a decide not to decide system to get it off your mind. The point of all of these incubation procedures is that they give you a way to get the items off your mind right now and let you feel confident that some reminder of the possible action will resurface at an appropriate time.

Whenever you come across something you want to keep, make a label for it, put it in a file folder, and tuck that into your filing drawer. And if there is an action, what is it? This is perhaps the most fundamental practice of this methodology. If there’s something that needs to be done about the item in, in, then you need to decide what exactly that next action is.

Next action, again, means the next physical, visible activity that would be required to move the situation toward closure. The next action should be easy to figure out, but there are often some quick analyses and several planning steps that haven’t occurred yet in your mind. And these have to happen before you can determine precisely what has to happen to complete the item, even if it’s a fairly simple one.

Although each of these items may seem relatively clear as a task or project, determining the next action on each one will take some thought. Clean the garage. Well, I just have to get in there and start. No, wait a minute, there’s a big refrigerator in there that I need to get rid of first. I should find out if John Patrick wants it for his camp.

I should call John Rhee, refrigerator in garage. And for the conference I’m going to, I need to find out whether Sandra is going to prepare a press kit for us. I guess I need to. Email Sandra Rhee, press kits for the conference, and so forth. The action steps, call John. Waiting for documents, email Sandra, are what need to be decided about everything that is actionable in your intray.

The action step needs to be the absolute next physical thing to do. Remember that these are physical, visible activities. Many people think they’ve determined the next action when they get it down to, set meeting. But that’s not the next action, because it’s not descriptive of physical behavior. How do you set a meeting?

Well, it could be with a phone call or an email, but to whom? Decide. If you don’t decide now, you’ll still have to decide at some other point, and what this process is designed to do is actually get you to finish the thinking exercise about this item. If you haven’t identified the next physical action required to kickstart it, there will be a psychological gap every time you think about it, even vaguely.

You’ll tend to resist noticing it, which leads to procrastination. Determine what physical activity needs to happen to get you to decide. What if you say to yourself, Well, the next thing I need to do is decide what to do about this. That’s a tricky one. Deciding isn’t really an action, because actions take time, and deciding doesn’t.

It’s a process. There’s always some physical activity that can be done to facilitate your decision making. 99 percent of the time you just need more information before you can make a decision. That additional information can come from external sources. Call Susan to get her input on the proposal, or from internal thinking, draft ideas about new reorganization.

Either way, there’s still a next action to be determined in order to move the project forward. My reading notes 4. Getting things done. The art of stress free productivity. David Allen and James Fallows. Once you decide what the action step is, you have three options once you decide what the next action really is.

Do it if the action takes less than two minutes. Delegate it if you’re not the most appropriate person to do the action. Defer it into your organization system as an option for work to do later. Do it if the next action can be done in two minutes or less. Do it when you first pick the item up. If the email requires just a 30 second reading and then a quick yes, no other response back to the sender.

Do it now. Even if the item is not a high priority one. Do it now if you’re ever going to do it at all. The rationale for the two minute rule is that it’s more or less the point where it starts taking longer to store and track an item than to deal with it the first time it’s in your hands. In other words, it’s the efficiency cutoff.

If the thing’s not important enough to be done, throw it away. When I spend time with someone cleaning up his or her email inventory, invariably there are dozens of quick actions generated that move the needle on multiple fronts, unsticking significant backlog, delegate it. If the next action is going to take longer than two minutes, ask yourself, am I the best person to be doing it?

If not, hand it off to the appropriate party in a systematic format. Written. Tracking the handoff, if you do delegate an action to someone else, and if you care at all, whether something happens as a result, you’ll need to track it. As I walk you through in the next chapter about organizing, you’ll see that a significant category to manage is waiting for.

As you develop your own customized system, what you eventually hand off and then track could look like a list in a planner, a file folder holding separate papers for each item, and or a list categorized as waiting for in your software. What if the ball is already in someone else’s court? On the paper that says, do my taxes.

Write something like waiting for tax documents from Acme Trust and put that into your pending stack. Defer it. It’s likely that most of the next actions you determine for things in N will be yours to do and will take longer than two minutes to complete. A call you need to make to a customer. An email to your team that you need to spend a little time thinking about and drafting.

A gift you need to buy for your brother at the sporting goods store. A software application. You need to download from the web and try out. A conversation you must have with your life partner about the school you’re thinking of sending your daughter to. All of these fit that description. These actions will have to be written down somewhere and then organized in the appropriate categories so you can access them when you need to.

The pending things that are left. If you follow the instructions in this chapter, you’ll dump a mess of things, file a bunch, do a lot of two minute actions, and hand off a number of items to other people. You’ll also wind up with a stack of items that have actions associated with them that you still need to do, soon, someday, or on a specific date and reminders of things you’re waiting on from other people.

This pending group is made up of the actions you’ve delegated or deferred. It is what still needs to be organized in some fashion in your personal system, a topic I’ll cover in step by step detail in the next chapter. Identifying the projects you have. This last step in getting to the bottom of in requires a shift in perspective from the single action details to the larger picture, your projects.

Again, I define a project as any outcome you’re committed to achieving that will take more than one action step to complete. Whether you draw up your projects list while you’re initially processing your entrée, or after you’ve set up your action lists, doesn’t really matter. It just needs to be done at some point, and it must be maintained.

Organizing. Setting up the right buckets. Airtight organization is required for your focus to remain on the broader horizon and eliminate the constant pressure to remember or be reminded. Having a total and seamless system of organization in place gives you tremendous power because it allows your mind to let go of lower level thinking and graduate to intuitive focusing, undistracted by matters that haven’t been dealt with appropriately.

But your physical organization system must be better than your mental one in order for that to happen. As simple as that sounds, it begs a very big question. What does something mean to you? It turns out that much of what people are trying to organize has not been clarified, as per the previous chapter.

And even once it has, there are more refined distinctions that are possible, which will add greater creativity and control for you. As you initially process in, you’ll create lists and groupings of things you want to organize, and you’ll invariably think of additional items to include. In other words, your organization system is not something that you’ll necessarily create all at once, in a vacuum.

It will evolve as you process your stuff, and test out whether you have put everything in the best place for you. I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s. William Blake. My reading notes for Getting Things Done. The Art of Stress Free Productivity. David Allen and James Fallows. I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s.

William Blake. The basic categories. There are seven primary types of things that you’ll want to keep track of and manage from an organizational and operational perspective. A projects list. Project support material. Calendar actions and information. Next actions lists. A waiting for list. Reference material.

A someday maybe list. The importance of hard edges. It’s critical that all of these categories be kept pristinely distinct from one another. If you neglect this categorization, and allow things of different meanings into the same visual or mental grouping, you will tend to go psychologically numb to the contents.

If you have projects that you’re not going to be doing anything about for some time, they must go on your someday maybe list, so you can relate to the project’s list with the rigorous action generating focus it needs. And if something you’re waiting for is included on one of your action lists, non productive rethinking will continually bog you down.

All you really need are lists and folders. https: TheBusinessProfessor. com Once you know what you need to keep track of, covered in the previous chapter, clarifying, all you really need are lists and folders. Totally sufficient tools for reminders, reference, and support materials. Your lists, which, as I’ve indicated, could also be items and folders, will keep track of projects and some date maybes, as well as the actions you’ll need to take on your active open loops.

Folders, digital or paper based, will be required to hold your reference material and the support information for active projects. There’s rampant skepticism about systems as simple as the one I’m recommending. But most list makers haven’t put the appropriate things on their lists, or have left them incomplete, which has kept the lists themselves from being very functional for keeping your head clear.

Once you know what goes on the lists, however, things get much easier, then you just need a way to manage them. When I refer to a list, keep in mind that I mean nothing more than a grouping of items with some similar characteristic. A list could look like one of at least three things, a file folder or container with separate paper notes for the items within the category, an actual list on a titled piece of paper, often within a, you know, Loose leaf organizer or planner.

Vore An inventory of items on a list in a software program or in a digital mobile device. Organizing action reminders. If you’ve emptied your in tray, you’ll undoubtedly have created a stack of pending reminders for yourself, representing longer than two minute actions that cannot be delegated to someone else.

You’ll also have accumulated reminders of things that you’ve handed off to other people, and perhaps some things that need to be placed on your calendar or in a someday, maybe, holder. You’ll want to sort all of this into groupings that make sense to you so you can review them as options for work to do when you have time.

You’ll also want to divide them in the most appropriate way physically to organize those groups. Whether as items in folders or on lists, either paper based or digital. The actions that go on your calendar. For the purposes of organization, as I’ve said, there are two basic kinds of actions. Those that must be done on a certain day and or at a particular time.

And those that just need to be done as soon as you can get to them. Around your other calendar items. Some perhaps with a final due date. Calendar and action items can be either time specific, e. g. meet with Jim or day specific. Call Rachel Tuesday to see if she got the proposal. What many want to do, however, based on perhaps old habits of writing daily total lists, is put actions on the calendar that they think they’d really like to get done next Monday, say.

But that actually might not, and that might then have to be moved to following days. Resist this impulse. You need to trust your calendar as sacred territory, reflecting the exact hard edges of your day’s commitments, which should be noticeable at a glance while you’re on the run. That’ll be much easier if the only things in there are those that you absolutely have to get done, or know about, on that day.

When the calendar is relegated to its proper role in organizing, The majority of the actions that you need to do are left in the category of as soon as possible against all the other things I have to do. Organizing as soon as possible actions by context. Over many years I have discovered that the best way to be reminded of an as soon as I can action is by the particular context required for that action.

That is, either the tool or the location or the situation needed to complete it. For instance, if the action requires a computer, it should go on an at computer list. If your action demands that you be out and moving around in the world, such as stopping by the bank or going to the hardware store, The errands list would be the appropriate place to track it.

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