Could you use help managing your email? Our next GTD webinar will tackle common email challenges, how to deal with backlog email, questions for getting your inbox emptied, creating trusted options outside of the inbox for the emails you need to get back to, and more.
Do you need to be scheduling blocks of time for yourself in the coming two weeks? Do you have any actions that require more than an hour of uninterrupted time, and which are “heating up” now in terms of urgency? This is a very important benefit of your GTD Weekly Review®—giving you tactical perspective and permission to bracket valuable space for yourself to get some of those things done.
You can download a GTD Weekly Review checklist from our free articles page.
A common question I’ve heard from GTDers is, “How often should I do the Mind Sweep?” The answer is easy—clear your mind as often as you can of what’s grabbing your attention. Remember, the Mind Sweep isn’t about sitting down to create a To Do list. It’s simply asking, “What’s grabbing my attention right now?” Asking that question can help you fully focus on what you want to focus on, versus where your mind is trying to yank you. Remember, your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.
Some times to consider doing a Mind Sweep:
You may be surprised how often your mind has something to clear.
—Kelly Forrister, Senior Coach & Presenter with the David Allen Company.
Someone asked, “Inbox Zero is about actually getting my inbox (in my case only email) sorted and dealt with, right?”
Inbox Zero means you’ve processed and organized what you’ve collected, until your inbox is empty. Let’s break that down even further.
Processing means deciding what things you’ve collected into your inboxes mean to you, and what you want to do about them. (If you want a refresher on the questions to ask in this step, grab the free GTD® Workflow Map here.)
Organizing means sorting what you’ve processed in the most streamlined way, in appropriate categories, based on how and when you need to access it.
What Inbox Zero doesn’t mean is stopping the processing to take action on everything that shows up. The only actions that happen during processing are ones that take less than two minutes. If you’re finding that getting to Inbox Zero is taking more time than you think it should, watch that you’re not stepping out of processing during that time and into doing work.
Give us an hour and we’ll get you closer to being clear, current, and creative about your work. Join Senior Coach Meg Edwards for an interactive webinar to walk through the 11 steps of the GTD Weekly Review®.
Later this month we also have our popular Keys to Getting Things Done and a brand new webinar on
Getting Started with GTD. See the full schedule here.
Many years ago, I was coaching a senior vice president of a Fortune 500 company. He’d been there 14 years and had built up a tremendous backlog of both paper and email. Before I reveal just how large it was, let’s examine a few of the factors that contributed to his predicament.
One of the things I catch myself saying quite a bit in coaching sessions these days is, “You have to slow down to speed up.” My fellow GTD Coach Meg Edwards shared this insight from David Allen with me years ago, and it has always stuck with me.
What do I mean by slow down to speed up? I work with so many people who are moving so fast, which can be great, as it allows them to get a lot done. However, these same individuals are often cruising at the speed of light while they are processing, and what happens is that they aren’t REALLY making clear decisions about their “stuff”. Instead of transforming their inputs into clear outcomes and next actions, they are making decisions too quickly and ending up with more “still needs to be decided upon stuff” on their lists. Then what happens? They don’t want to look at their lists.
The solution is to slow down to speed up. The payoff from GTD is all about slowing down on the front end, when you’re in the processing phase of the GTD Mastering Workflow 5-phase model. By following the decision through to the very next action or outcome, you already know what needs to be done when you have time to actually do the work. Choosing what is the most appropriate thing to do in the moment is so much easier if your lists have clear, physical/visible next actions that you are prepared to do in the moment, given the right tool, location, energy, etc.
It can be frustrating for people who like moving fast to slow down, but it will be even more frustrating to have to look at something two, three, or even four times to get clear about what really needs to be done to move something forward.
Have a look at your lists. Is there anything on them that you kind of glaze over when you look at it? Anything that’s been sitting there for months? Any resistance? A red flag to watch out for is having one word on the subject line for a next action (e.g. “Bob” under @Waiting For or “closet” under @Home). What physically, visibly needs to be done to move those items forward, and how are you going to do it? You don’t want to have to ask yourself those questions more than once. And that once happens during the processing phase.
I encourage all of you (myself included!) to s l o w d o w n when we are processing, and really experience the payoff of having squeaky-clean lists.
Julie Ireland is a senior coach with the David Allen Company. Learn more about Julie.
Question: I have a number of projects on my list. When I start a new project, I tend to think of all the tasks that need to be accomplished in order to complete my project. I also add tasks to that list as I think of them.
My question is this…should I be transferring the “next action” on my list of tasks for that project to my “next action” list?
Coach Kelly Forrister: Yes, we typically suggest you transfer the Next Action(s) from your project plans to your Next Actions lists, as you can do them. That way your Next Actions lists represent a current list of choices, across all of your projects. On the other hand, there are times I am working on a specific project and work directly from the project plans. But once I’m done and moving on to something else, I don’t want those project plans to be the only reminder of what the Next Action is. I want that bookmarked on my Next Actions lists, so I always have one trusted place dedicated to current choices I can make. Project plans are rarely good for that because they combine current actions with future actions with project notes and brainstorming.
Kelly Forrister is a Senior Coach & Presenter with the David Allen Company.
Have you ever left something in your inbox, just because the decision about how to handle it wasn’t immediately clear? Multiply that one stalled item by a few dozen, or hundred, or thousand, and the inbox backlog builds up fast. For most people this applies to their email inbox, but it can be true of a physical inbox overflowing with paper as well. There’s help in the Processing phase of the GTD Mastering Workflow model.
After you’ve identified what the item is, the next question is very simple: Is it actionable? There are two and only two answers—yes or no. Maybe is not an option, because maybe means “no,” at least for now. But don’t worry, the “no” choice doesn’t necessarily mean you have to delete the item. The “no” choice means that it’s something to trash, to incubate (add to your Someday Maybe list, calendar, or tickler file), or to file as reference.
If the item is actionable, then you’ll add the next action to your Calendar, Next Actions, or Waiting For list, and capture the outcome on your Projects list if it’s not already there.
How much more efficient could your inbox processing be if you got more comfortable with saying yes or no? Maybe it’s the “maybe” that’s been slowing you down.