???? My reading notes for getting things done – Part 1. The art of stress free productivity, David Allen and James Fallows. David Allen’s getting things done has become one of the most influential business books of its era and the ultimate book on personal organization. GTD is now shorthand or an entire way of approaching professional and personal tasks and has spawned an entire culture of websites, organizational tools, seminars, and offshoots getting control of your life.

The five steps of mastering workflow. We capture what has our attention, clarify what each item means and what to do about it, organize the results. Which presents the options we reflect on, which we then choose to engage with. This constitutes the management of the horizontal aspect of our lives, incorporating everything that we need to consider at any time as we move forward moment to moment.

The quality of our workflow management is only as good as the weakest link in this five phase chain. So all the links must be integrated and supported with consistent standards. Most people have major weaknesses in their capture process. Most of their commitments to do something are still in their head.

Many have collected lots of things but haven’t clarified exactly what they represent or decided what action, if any, to take about them. Random lists strewn everywhere. Others make good decisions about stuff in the moment but lose the value of that thinking because they don’t efficiently organize the results.

They determine they should talk to their boss about something but a reminder of that lies only in the dark recesses of their mind, unavailable in the appropriate context, in a trusted format, when they could use it. Still others have good systems but don’t reflect on the contents consistently enough to keep them functional.

They may have lists, plans, and various checklists available to them, created by capturing, clarifying, and organizing, but they don’t keep them current or access them to their advantage. Finally, if any one of these previous links is weak, what someone is likely to choose to, engage in at any point in time may not be the best option.

Most decisions for action and focus are driven by the latest and loudest inputs, and are based on hope instead of trust. Gathering percent of the incompletes In order to eliminate holes in your bucket, you need to collect and gather placeholders for, or representations of, all the things you consider incomplete in your world.

That, a task left undone remains undone in two places. At the actual location of the task, and inside your head. Incomplete tasks in your head consume the energy of your attention, as they gnaw at your conscience. Brahma Kumaris. As soon as you attach a should, need to, or ought to to an item, it becomes an incomplete.

Basic processing tools. Let’s assume you’re starting from scratch. In addition to a desktop workspace, you’ll need paper holding trays at least three, a stack of plain letter sized paper, a pen pencil, post its, scissors, paperclips, a stapler and staples, scotch tape, rubber bands, an automatic labeler, file folders, a calendar, wastebasket, recycling bins, current tools being used for data capture, organizing, and to do lists, including mobile devices, personal computers, and paper based planners and notebooks, if any, paper holding trays.

These will serve as your in tray and out tray, with one or two others for work in progress support papers and or your read and review stack. The most functional trays are the side facing letter or legal size stackable kinds, which have no lip on them to keep you from sliding out a single piece of paper.

Plain paper. You’ll use plain paper for the initial collection process. Believe it or not, putting one thought on one full size sheet of paper can have enormous value. Most people will wind up processing their notes into some sort of list organizer, but by having initial thoughts separated into discrete placeholders versus on one amorphous list, It makes it easier to wrestle it to closure later.

File folders. You’ll need plenty of file folders. You may also need an equal number of file folder hangers if your filing system requires them. There are many reminders and some data that you will want a calendar for, but you won’t be stopping there. Your calendar will need to be integrated with a much more comprehensive system that will emerge as you apply this method.

Because your head is not the place in which to hold things, you’ll obviously need something to manage your triggers and orient yourself externally. Should you implement the getting things done process and what you’re currently using, or should you install something new? The answer is, do whichever one will actually help you change your behavior so you’ll use the tools appropriately.

Keep in mind, though, that the tool you use will not give you stress free productivity. That is something you create by implementing the GTD method. The structure you incorporate will be extremely important in how you express and implement the process, but it is not a substitute for it. A great hammer doesn’t make a great carpenter, but a great carpenter will always want to have a great hammer.

The filing system at hand is one of the first things I assess before beginning the workflow process in anyone’s office. The lack of a good general reference system can be one of the greatest obstacles to implementing a personal management system, and for most of the executives I have coached, it represents one of the biggest opportunities for improvement.

It’s not because the content is so important or strategic, it’s rather that, unmanaged, it inordinately. Clouds, physical, and mental space. We’re concerned here mostly with general reference filing, as distinct from discrete filing systems devoted to contracts, financial information, patient records, or other categories of data that deserve their own place in indexing.

General reference files should hold articles, brochures, pieces of paper, notes, printouts, documents, and even physical things like tickets, keys, Buyers Club membership cards, and flash drives, basically anything. Success factors for filing. I strongly suggest that you maintain a personal, at hand filing system, both physical and digital.

It should take you less than one minute to pick something up out of your in tray, or print it from email, decide it needs no next action but has some potential future value, and finish storing it in a trusted system. You must feel equally comfortable about filing a single piece of paper on a new topic.

Even a scribbled note in its own file as you would about filing a more formal, larger document. Keep your general reference files immediately at hand filing has to be instantaneous and easy. If you have to get up every time you have some ad hoc piece of paper you want to file, or you have to search multiple places on your computer for an appropriate location for a piece of information you want to keep, you’ll tend to stack it or leave it in its original place instead of filing it.

One alpha system I have one AZ alphabetical physical filing system for general reference, not multiple ones. My email reference folders are also organized this way. People have a tendency to want to use their files as a personal management system, and therefore, they attempt to organize them in groupings by projects or areas of focus.

This magnifies geometrically the number of places something isn’t when you forget where you filed it. Purge your files at least once a year, cleaning house in your files regularly keeps them from going stale and seeming like a black hole, and it also gives you the freedom to keep anything on a whim in case you might need it.

Reference materials need to be contained and organized within their own discrete boundaries, physically and digitally, so that they don’t cloud other categories. In your system are available for a specific purpose and can be accessed efficiently because they can be so voluminous. It is critical that they be easily managed for capturing, sorting and accessing what you need when you need it and that they don’t get in the way of the more action oriented components of your system.

My reading notes for getting things done. The art of stress free productivity, David Allen and James Fallows, David Allen’s getting things done has become one of the most influential business books of its era and the ultimate book on personal organization. GTD is now shorthand for an entire way of approaching professional and personal tasks, and has spawned an entire culture of websites, organizational tools, seminars, and offshoots.

Capturing. Corralling your stuff. This chapter will lead you in more detail through the process of getting all your incompletes, all your stuff, into one place. Into. In. That’s the critical first step in getting to the state of mind like water. Just gathering a few more things than you currently have will probably create a positive feeling for you.

But if you can hang in there and really do the whole capturing process, percent. It will change your experience dramatically, and give you an important new reference point for being on top of your work and your world. Until you’ve captured everything that has your attention, some part of you will still not totally trust that you’re working with the whole picture of your world.

Creating relevant placeholding notes, for example, purge and process boat storage shed, and deal with hall closet. Reasons to gather everything before you start clarifying it. It’s helpful to have a sense of the volume of stew you have to deal with. It lets you know where the end of the tunnel is, and, when you’re clarifying and organizing, you don’t want to be distracted psychologically by an amorphous mass of stuff that might still be somewhere.

Once you have all the things that require your attention gathered in one place, you’ll automatically be operating from a state of enhanced focus and control. You can only feel good about what you’re not doing when you know everything you’re not doing. It counterintuitive, because for the most part, most of that stuff was not, and is not, that important.

That’s why it’s still lying around. It wasn’t an urgent thing when it first showed up, and probably nothing’s blown up yet because it hasn’t been dealt with. It’s the business card you put in your wallet of somebody you thought you might want to contact sometime. It’s the little piece of techno gear in the bottom desk drawer that you’re missing a part for, or haven’t had the time to install properly.

It’s the printer that you keep telling yourself you’re going to move to a better location in your office. These are the kinds of things that nag at you but that you haven’t decided either to deal with or to drop entirely from your list of open loops. But because you think there still could be something important in there, that stuff is controlling you and taking up more of your energy than it deserves.

Physical gathering. The first activity is to search your physical environment for anything that doesn’t permanently belong where it is, the way it is, and put it into your in tray. You’ll be gathering things that are incomplete, things that have some decision about potential action tied to them. They all go into in, so they’ll be available for later processing.

Things that can remain where they are, the way they are, with no action tied to them. Supplies. Reference material. Decoration. Equipment. Reference material. Is anything you simply keep for information as needed, such as manuals for your software, the local takeout deli menu, your kid’s sports team schedule, or your list of internal phone extensions.

This category includes all your telephone and address information. Everything else goes into in. But many of the things you might initially interpret as supplies, reference, decoration, or equipment could also have action associated with them because they still aren’t exactly the way they need to be.

Those should go into in. Likewise, if your supplies drawer is out of control, full of lots of dead or unorganized stuff, that’s an incomplete that needs to be captured. issues about capturing. As you engage in the capturing step, you may run into one or more of the following. You’ve got a lot more than will fit into one in tray.

You’re likely to get derailed into purging and organizing. You may have some form of stuff already collected and organized and or you’re likely to run across some critical things that you wanna keep in front of you. What if an item is too big to go in the in tray? If you can’t physically put something in the in tray, then write a note on a piece of letter size, plain paper to represent it.

Be sure to date it too. This has a couple of benefits if your organization system winds up containing some of these pieces of paper representing something else. It’ll be useful to know when the note was created. It’s also just a great habit to date everything you handwrite. From post it notes for your assistant, to voicemails you transfer onto a pad, to the note you take on a phone call with a client.

If you are using a digital tool that has a date stamp function, it’s great to use that for the same reason. The percent of the time that this little piece of information will be extremely useful makes it worth developing the simple habit. What if the pile is too big to fit into the in tray? If that’s the case, just create stacks around the in tray, and maybe even on the floor, below it.

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