We’ve covered the basics of GTD in the first episode of this blog series. For those who missed the first part, GTD stands for Getting Things Done. It’s a work-life management system for stress-free productivity published by David Allen.
In this episode, you’ll learn how to use your calendar, how to keep and handle specific GTD lists, how to perform a thorough weekly review, and we’ll pull it all together to jumpstart your productivity.
Hands on your calendar, this is what we’ll begin with.
Using your calendar
Everybody gets a calendar. But are you making educated decisions about what and in what form you put into your calendar?
Allen suggests that you use your calendar for stuff that fits one of the following categories:
- Time-specific action
- Day-specific action
- Day-specific information
Let’s see some tangible examples. A time-specific action is anything that has to happen at a specified time. Your most important tasks and particularly those that are aligned with your goals definitely fall into this category. You can time block your morning hours to complete your most important tasks. All your meetings that you should attend come as time-specific actions, too.
Any task that has no clear time-boundary but should happen on a specific day is a day-specific action. A report that you should deliver to your boss might be a good example.
The third category, day-specific information, isn’t really an action-driven item. It’s very useful though to keep you motivated or reminded. You might attach a short note to your calendar to remind yourself that the new studio album of your favorite band is approaching. It’s not really an actionable item but keeps you reminded and builds anticipation. Another example might include birthdays, vacations, important deadlines, you name it.
It’s all clear but it has nothing to do with your task list, right
Pro tip: if you use a task manager, you could sync your time-bound tasks with your calendar. It’s so fun to sit back and watch your calendar to time block itself.
Let’s get back to the GTD contexts and explore two specific lists: the “Someday/Maybe” and the “Waiting For.”
Recommended reading: What Gets Scheduled Gets Done: Really?
The Someday/Maybe list
Someday you’ll notice that you need a Someday/Maybe list for the stuff that doesn’t fit your core GTD projects
The next list is beyond your to-dos and, at the same time, within your responsibilities: this is your Waiting For list.
The Waiting For list
I’ve written an in-depth guest post on the Waiting For list on Nozbe blog, so I’ll only briefly discuss the details here. Allen defines the Waiting For list as “reminders of all the things that you are waiting to get back from or get done by others.”
It follows that this would be one of your most frequently visited lists―emails, goods, services, delegated and outsourced stuff all fall under this category.
If you don’t take the time to keep and update your Waiting For list, you definitely miss one of the core benefits of the GTD system.
The simplest way to keep a Waiting For list is to CC yourself on each e-mail that you’re waiting to get some feedback on.
Define a rule in your email client that pulls all CC-d emails into a specific folder: why not call it a Waiting For folder? The next step is that you keep an eye on your Waiting For list and get people reminded. That’s when the weekly review comes to the scene…
The GTD weekly review
The weekly review is central to the GTD concept. It’s the perfect time to reflect on your system.
To put it in a nutshell, during a weekly review you should
- Check your inboxes.
- Update your projects.
- Define your next actions.
- Ensure that no project comes without a next action.
- Schedule important tasks.
- Check your calendar both for upstream and downstream stuff and events.
- Check your Waiting For list.
- Check your Someday/Maybe list.
- Check your goals.
- Ensure that your most important actions are in line with your goals.
The best thing you can do is that you schedule a weekly review. Most people do it on Friday afternoon, Sunday afternoon, or Monday morning. I prefer to do it on Friday morning because that’s the perfect time to avoid distraction.
It will take about some 30-60 minutes to complete, depending on how long your project list is. This might seem a lot, but once you schedule it and go with a die-hard dedication, you’ll soon see the enormous benefit. No more missed deadlines, dormant projects, and unfulfilled goals. You’re now the master of your system.
Recommended reading: The ultimate guide to perform a thorough weekly review
Pulling it all together
In this blog post series, we outlined the GTD framework, defined projects and next actions, covered the power of the 2-minute rule, and revealed how to use your calendar and how to sort your tasks by context.
We ended by discussing the benefits of a thorough weekly review, which, if done right, will set you up for success.
Finally, I would give you some hints on how to set up and maintain your system.
First, find a platform for your system. Whether you’re tech-savvy or not, you’ll find the best platform that suits your needs. The David Allen Company offers lots of setup guides on how to create your GTD system on different platforms from Microsoft Outlook to Evernote. I highly recommend that you purchase a guide if you’re new to GTD or lack technical knowledge.
Schedule a day or at least half a day―yes, you’ll need that much time―to set up your system. Create your projects and pull all your next actions into your system.
Try not to overcomplicate your system so that you could access all pieces of information even when you’re 10 minutes before hitting home after a party. Remember: you’re building
It can be a bit strange at first but leveraging GTD as a work-life management system means that you bring all your home stuff to the table as well. Build a system that you trust and can access easily. Cross-platform task managers are perfect candidates here.
Also don’t miss the opportunity to fine-tune your system from time to time, and never miss the weekly review.
Now, that you embraced the concept and mastered GTD, why not get your friends involved by sharing this article?
Recommended reading: Choose Your Weapon: How to Find the Best Task Manager?
Your one takeaway: Schedule a day and set up your GTD system on a platform that suits your needs.