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GTD Notes

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My notes from Getting Things Done by David Allen

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									GTD Getting Things Done Part 1: The art of GTD Two objectives: 1. Capturing everything you need to do in a system so it‟s out of your head 2. Disciplining yourself to make front end decisions about all the inputs you let into your life so that you always have a plan for “next actions”. A calendar can only manage a portion of your actions. Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax. This is why objective #1 is so important. When you‟re tense you are slow. Get things out of your head so you can relax and focus. Dealing effectively with internal commitments: Most of our stress comes from inappropriately managed commitments. Open loop: Anything that does not belong where it is, the way it is and thus draws on your attention. Rules for managing commitments:  If it‟s on your mind, your mind is not clear. Get in the habit of keeping nothing in your mind  You must clarify the exact nature of your commitments  You need a system of reminders for all the actions you have decided on Steps: Define outcomes: one sentence that describes success. Results must be clearly described for productivity to be achieved. Define next actions The key to managing all your “stuff” is managing “actions”. You need to control commitments, projects and actions vertically and horizontally: Horizontal – maintain coherence across all the activities you are involved in Vertical – Thinking up and down individual topics ** There is usually an inverse proportion between how much something is on your mind and how much it‟s getting done. There is no reason to have the same thought twice. Getting control of your life: the 5 stages of mastering workflow 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Collect things that command our attention Process what they mean and what to do about them Organize the results Review options for what we choose; and Do

Separate these stages as you move through your day.


GTD Collect Gather 100% of the incompletes. Tools: inbox, voicemail, notebook, in basket Keys to collection:  Capture *every* open loop  Have as few collection buckets as possible  Empty them regularly Your best ideas about work will not come to you at work. So, you need a way to capture them and get them into your system. Process You don‟t organize what‟s incoming, you organize your actions based on the decisions you have made about what needs to be done. AI: Copy p. 32 Key to define your next action and assign these actions to your commitments. Reminders of these defined next actions are the key to your GTD system. Organize To manage actions, you need a list of projects, files for project plans, a calendar, list of reminders for next actions and things you are waiting for. Project: Any desired result that requires >1 action step. Store support materials out of site. Calendar: Use these for – day and time specific actions or info. Do not use daily “to do” lists. Next actions list: Use for any > 2 minute action that cannot be delegated. You can group them into categories. Tracking non-actionable items: 3 places  Trash  Incubation (“someday / maybe” or “tickler”  Reference Use your someday / maybe list to capture everything – dreams, the future, whatever. Review Your system should include a calendar and the following lists:  Projects  Next actions  Waiting for Keys: As soon as you can complete an action, check to see what else needs to be done Weekly review: Key habit. Clears your head and keeps your system current.


GTD Do 3 different models to choose from: Four criteria model – Choose what to do next based on: Context, time available, energy and priority. Threefold model – Doing predefined work (next actions), work as it shows up, defining your work. Six level model for reviewing your work – 50,000 feet – life 40,000 – 3 – 5 year vision 30,000 – 1 -2 year goals 20,000 – areas of responsibility 10,000 – current projects Runway – current actions Getting projects under way: The 5 phases of project planning Keys: Clearly defined outcomes – Projects Reminders in a trusted system Enhancing vertical focus – back of the napkin planning tends to be the most productive. Natural Planning Model: The most experienced planner in the World is your brain. Harness how it naturally behaves. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Define purpose and principles Outcome visioning Brainstorming – all possible ideas Organizing – key components, milestones, deliverables, dependencies Identifying next actions

Natural planning is not necessarily “normal”. Natural Planning Techniques: 5 phases Since our minds plan naturally anyway, what can we learn from that? Purpose: Always ask “why?”. Why? - Defines success - Defines decision criteria - Clarifies focus - Expands options If you‟re not sure why you are doing something you can never do enough. Principles: Clear, simple purpose and goals can lead to complex thinking and outcomes (and vice versa). Vision / outcome: A clear picture of success. Creating clear outcomes is very powerful.


GTD Steps for developing a vision: - View the project from beyond the completion date - Envision WILD SUCCESS - Capture features, aspects, qualities you imagine The best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas. Brainstorming keys: Don‟t judge, quantity Organizing: Next actions How much planning do you need to do? As much as it takes for it to be off your mind. Part 2: Practicing Stress-Free Productivity Getting started: Setting up the time, space and tools Set aside the time to implement the full collection process. After hours is usually a good time to crank through a group of similar tasks you would not normally do during the day (filing, organizing, etc). Keys to your filing system: A personal general reference system (as opposed to discrete, specific purpose files): - Accessible (easy to reach) - A – Z system - Lots of fresh folders - Use a labeller - Good drawers - No hanging folders - Purge your files quarterly Collection Put all physical items in your in-basket Start with your desktop, then drawers, then counter top See p. 114 for a triggers list. Processing: Getting “in” to “empty” When you have finished processing in you will have: - Trashed what you don‟t need - Completed all < 2 min items - Handed off all delegation items - Sorted and organized reminders for all next actions - Identified all projects Guidelines: Process the top item first One item at a time Never put anything back to “in”


GTD Emergency scanning is not processing. Key processing question: What is the next action? One you have decided the next action: - Do it - Delegate - Defer Organizing: setting up the right buckets Don‟t bother creating external structuring of the priorities. Your system should include a calendar and the following lists:  Projects  Next actions  Waiting for Only items that have to get done at a specific time should be in your calendar. Organizing as soon as possible items by Context: The tool, location, client, person needing it. i.e. You could have a “car” list, “phone” list, etc. Most common categories: - Calls - At computer - Errands - At office - At home - Agendas (people, meetings) - Read / review Managing e-mail: Create an @ACTION folder for > 2 minute items you need to act on. Get your inbox to zero. Organizing project reminders: Projects list – the value of this lies in the complete weekly review Checklists: The most creative checklists are often created at the back end of a consulting process. Key areas to plan: - Career goals - Service - Family - Relationships - Community - Health - Finance - Creative expression


GTD If you‟re involved in anything that has a future > 1 year you should be planning outcomes and actions for it. Review: Keep your system functional Your brain must engage on some consistent basis with all your commitments and activities. Your personal system and behaviours need to be established in such a way that you can see all the action options you need to see when you need to see them. Elements: daily tickler folder, action lists by context, Weekly review will force you to say „no‟. The weekly review is designed to get your head clear. Weekly review process: - Loose papers - Notes - Previous calendar - Upcoming calendar - Empty your head - Review projects o next actions list o waiting for list o any relevant checklists o someday / maybe list o Pending and support files Doing: Making the best action choices Work from the bottom up. Use the four criteria model (see above). Organize your action items by context: - Calls - Home - Work - Clients - Computer Always keep a list of action items that require low effort. One of the best ways to increase energy is to close your open loops. Getting projects under control With your horizontal tasks under control, the last piece is vertical. Don‟t use formal methodologies. Simple hierarchical outlines with simple action items are better. Part 3: The power of the key principles Collection: It makes you more dependable and people trust you more. Negative feelings come from broken agreements. Need to learn to say no or renegotiate your commitments.



Every agreement must be made conscious: - Captured - Objectified - Reviewed - Managed Use your mind to think about things rather than think of them. Next action: When a culture adopts “what‟s the next action?” as a standard query, there‟s an automatic increase in energy, productivity, clarity and focus. Ceasing negative imaging will always cause your energy to increase. Avoiding action decisions till the last minute creates inefficiency and stress. Last minute requests from our leaders are the #1 source of workplace stress. 20 minutes before the end of each meeting, start asking what the next actions are. The next time someone complains, ask them what the next action is. This forces them to act. Outcome focusing: You can‟t really define next actions until you know the desired outcome. Brainstorming should be a standard tool for all aspects of your life. Key questions: - Why are we doing this? - What will it look like when it‟s done?


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