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Getting Things Done

After having just read “Getting Things Done”┬áby David Allen, I want to distill the information down for myself so that I can refer back to it as needed.

1. Capture

I have always believed that the simplest method that is able to be used, should be the one utilized. Especially in our “over-use-of-tech” world, what we must always be asking ourselves is, is ‘what must I do and utilize so that it actually gets done?’. For me, I have always liked the task manager, Things, for managing my tasks. It is functional, elegant, and looks great. It also works on all of your devices. I use it on my Apple watch, iPhone, Laptop, and Desktop. I would say I get the most use out of it on my watch and on my phone. The watch app is great for capturing ideas. The first and very important step in the GTD mindset. I have the Things icon on my watchface, and all I have to do is tap it and dictate what I want it to note. That goes to the Inbox for my review in the next step. If I know I need to do that thing that same day, I can quickly switch it to the ‘Today’ list, so I can move on to my third step, if its requiring action is already clearly defined.

As emails come in, ones requiring action on my part, are labeled with a flag. One color flag for personal items, and another color flag for my business items.

I also have an ‘In’ tray at my office for physical things that require action.

In the second step, I will be reviewing these three locations, to define what comes next, in step 3

2. Review

During the review process, which I do every 2-3 days, I go through my flagged emails and my in tray, and add those actionable items to Things. Any physical media can be digitized and digitally filed away. Any non-actionable items can be filed away, preferably digitally, as a reference file. I have an already established digital filing system that works well for me, and enables me to find things when I need them without searching.

Once Everything is in the Things inbox, I go through each one, and clarify what it means. It there are multiple actions required to a task, I will add individual steps that are more clearly defined. These are what the GTD method refers to as, “Next Actions”. Without those actions clearly defined, your brain will not be able to release that, because it still has not clarified what is next, and the confusion is what keeps it in your brain.

Once I have clarified the tasks, I will organize the tasks into Projects or Areas of Responsibility. I will also assign dates when I want them to show up in my ‘Today’ view. I will do that so that the next week is always mapped out. And I give myself the permission to keep that schedule flexible, as life requires. Getting things done, isn’t about working yourself to death, it is about making internal agreements with yourself on the state of a task, so that you know that you aren’t failing at it.

3. Act

If you carefully and consistently do steps 1 and 2, your brain trusts the system and it knows it does not have to worry about any of the tasks, because internal agreements and decisions have been made. As your ‘Today’ list shows up each day, you can trust that you are doing what you need to be doing. If you find yourself stressing over actions, ask yourself if 1) you captured it, and if 2) you clarified next actions for it.

Conclusion

Focus on capturing and on the outcomes of your actions. Listen to your thoughts more closely, and recognize that your brain deserves to be free from stress of unfinished tasks. Whenever you have a thought of something you have to do, capture it. No matter how small. Our brains can’t tell a difference from ‘replacing the fire alarms batteries’, to ‘selling the house’, when it comes to the stress of something being undecided or ignored. It will pop into your head and take over, until you agree on a game plan for it and know that it is in a trusted system that won’t be ignored.

Free up your head for yourself, and for the more creative ideas which will flourish with the extra mental space.