Friday, November 30, 2007

Getting Things Done review: Chapter 2

Getting Control of Your Life: The Five Stages of Mastering Workflow

Initial expectations

This one's pretty straightforward: this chapter should cover the steps in the GTD process.

Chapter Summary

This chapter outlines the five stages:
  • Collect
    The first stage in managing your workflow is to capture, or collect, 100% of the "stuff" you need to do. This means identifying every single open loop you currently have. 100% is not an exaggeration; it's important to identify everything, so that you can clear all this stuff out of your mind. Allen talks about a general "inbox", where stuff is collected. This will usually be composed of several different input channels, including e-mails, written notes, voice mails, etc.

  • Process
    Simply collecting the stuff is not sufficient; you need to empty your inbox on a regular basis in order to make headway. Allen provides a simple decision process for dealing with every single piece of stuff in your inbox:

    1. What is it? - Identify the basic nature of the item.

    2. Is it actionable? - Either this is something that will lead to a direct action, or it isn't.

    3. What's the next action? - If it's actionable, identify the very next step that needs to be taken.

    4. If the item will take less than 2 minutes, then do it. Otherwise, either delegate or defer the item.

  • Organize
    Here we deal with the "results" of the decisions made above:

    1. If the item isn't actionable, then do one of the following:
      • Trash it (if it has no value)

      • Incubate it (set it aside as a "someday" action)

      • File it (for future reference)

    2. If it is actionable, then determine whether it's part of a larger project. If so, add the project to a "current projects" list, and determine the next action. This next action is what you're now processing.

    3. If the item will take longer than two minutes, then do one of the following:

      • Delegate it (if you're not the best one to complete it)

      • Defer it (either to be done at a specific time, or as soon as possible)

  • Review
    The gist of this is that you need to have a periodic, consistent review of your next actions (Allen recommends a weekly review), to ensure that nothing is falling through the cracks. Think of the way you feel just before you take a vacation: everything is wrapped up and ready to go. Why not have this feeling at the end of every week?

  • Do
    Allen basically runs through some models for working through your next actions list. How do you prioritize the items to make sure they actually get done? We'll get more details later in the book.

Did this chapter deliver?

This is a very nice, concise summary of the basic process of GTD. It seems very simple, but it makes sense. The whole premise of the book is that productivity doesn't have to be stressful or confusing, and the system that Allen lays out in this chapter certainly seems intuitive. I think the core is really the review step. I'll be interested to get into the details in future chapters.

Overall, this chapter provided just the right level of detail. The flow charts outlining the process and organize steps will be extremely useful for future reference.

Want to read more?

Go to my GTD review index page.

1 comment:

Debt Consolidation said...

the advice is worth trying!