Categories | Getting Started | Getting Things Done | Implementation
In order to feel good about the myriad of things that you have agreed to on some level, you must be clear about all of those agreements and have them in some sort of trusted system. If you don’t, your mind will constantly be looping those agreements and reminding you at random, unpredictable moments throughout the day, usually when you are trying to focus on something else.
Have you ever been at work and had things that needed to be done related to your family taking up your attention? Similarly, have you been at home with your family and had work commitments stealing your attention during your family time?
When you have trusted lists with all of your commitment—big and small—organized in a useful way, you have a place to park all of those thoughts that the mind otherwise has to deal with.
Here are some core GTD lists for you to consider.
All we can ever do are actions. We cannot do projects; we cannot do ideas. We can only do the physical actions that lead to the fulfillment or completion of those projects and ideas. The importance of next actions is that you can do and not have to think anymore, especially when your energy levels may be challenged, because you already did the thinking when you put the next action on your list. In Getting Things Done, David Allen talks about the option of sorting your next actions by context.
Examples: Call Mohammed re proposal, email Aisha about staff meeting, talk to Leila about picking up the kids tomorrow after school.
When the next action is not something for you to do, but you’re waiting on someone else to do it, it is useful to track those in one place in order to get them off your mind. A significant amount of stress is usually wrapped up in tracking responses from others. Perhaps you’re worrying that someone might drop the ball and fail to get you something you need, or that things will simply slip through the cracks and get lost, or worse, give you trouble in some way because they were forgotten. Put them on a Waiting For list and put your mind at ease. Add the date when you made the request or handed something off to someone, so you know when it’s appropriate to follow up.
Example: Mike-response on bids-07 July
Many people have some sort of list of their projects, but few have the complete list that David Allen recommends. Specifically, this would be a list of the outcomes you’d like to accomplish in the next year or so, that require more than one action step to complete. This is simply a list of your projects. You would then make sure that there is at least one next action for each project on your Next Actions list. Get your projects off your mind, and refer to the list when you need to. Take back control of your projects by getting them all on a list. You might be surprised at how much more you enjoy your work and personal life.
Try these lists and see how much of your attention you can free up for what you really want and need to focus on. I would love to hear in the comments how these lists are working for you, whether you are newer to GTD and these lists, or are more experienced and have been using them successfully, and/or have customized them in new ways to work better for you.
Zoltan Hrotko is a coach and presenter with the David Allen Company. Learn more about Zoltan here.