GTD: The Five Phases of Workflow, Part 2

The GTD productivity model is a clear model that anyone can implement. It may seem intimidating to jump all the way in to this system, but once you do, you’ll have a process that you can trust, freeing up your mind to actually complete tasks instead of just worrying about them.

Today, I’ll cover how you organize all of the “stuff” you’ve collected and processed using Getting Things Done. This step in the five phases of workflow is half of the reason why people can fully trust this productivity system and let their minds be free to focus on what is at hand; reviewing is the other half that keeps you engaged in your system and on top of your projects.

How to organize your stuff

David Allen outlines the lists he suggests you use to get all of your items organized. Each one has a specific purpose, and none are superfluous, so you know you are being thorough yet efficient while you get organized.

  • Projects list. This list should be an index of all of your open loops.
  • Project support materials. Resources you’ll need to help you work on and complete your projects.
  • Calendared actions/information. Calendared info is any task or item that has a specific date or time attached to it.
  • Next actions list. The collection of the most basic next steps that need to be taken for each of your projects.
  • Waiting for list. Any tasks or items you cannot complete because you are relying on additional support or information from others.
  • Reference material. Items that have no action associated with them but still need to be reviewed by you in the future.
  • Someday/maybe list. Items that you’d like to try that don’t fit into your current schedule.

Where to organize your stuff

The GTD system only requires lists and folders for you to become completely organized. Folders store your reference material, support material, etc. Lists can be either actual lists, folders with information stored on single sheets of paper for easy reference, or lists on your computer and devices (such as the task list manager in Power.ME).

For your lists, implementing categories and contexts to help you separate tasks will help you track them better. GTD suggests categories such as calls, at computer, and errands. In Power.ME, you can add proximity filters to your tasks to sort them in this manner. Then, when you are reviewing your tasks, you can sort them using the proximity filter you added to the task. Filters improve your efficiency immensely.

Another section of your life that needs to be organized is your email inbox. Use the categories or folders within your email provider to get your inbox to empty. Keeping your inbox organized will make it so much simpler when you are trying to find specific information. Plus, when you look at your inbox, you’ll only see the stuff that is pressing, or the tasks waiting on your actions.

In Part 3, I’ll elaborate on the review process, a key phase to managing your workflow. Then, I’ll take about how to take action and get things done.

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