Getting Things Done

The key things I got from reading Getting Things Done by David Allen

  • Date everything – notes, to-dos, lists etc.
  • Document all open loops – projects, things to do, meetings, reviews etc.
  • For all your to-do items, if it can be done under two minutes then do it, otherwise make it a project.
  • Use buckets to categorise all the things you need to do.
    • Projects.
    • Project supporting material.
    • Calender for action items and information that will be needed on a certain date.
    • Next actions.
    • Waiting for list
    • Reference material.
    • Someday / maybe.
  • All to-do items need to be expressed in the next action to take. For example hire another staff member, should be recorded as write a job description or make a call to a recruitment agent.
  • Natural planning.
    • Define purpose and principles.
    • Outcome visioning.
    • Brainstorming.
    • Organising.
      • Identify significant pieces.
      • Sort by, components, sequences or priority then detail to the required level.
    • Identity the next action to take.
  • The best checklists are often done after you have gone through a process. For example always review your interview checklist after going through the hiring process.
  • Importance of a weekly review.
  • Importance of tracking items (or next actions) by context. For example:
    • Errands.
    • At computer.
    • At office.
    • At home.
    • Calls.
    • Agendas.
    • Read / review.
    • Waiting for.
  • Tickler file: series of folders numbered 1 to 31 for each day in the month. If you want a reminder about something on the 14th put it in the folder numbered 14. Then everyday empty the folder for today into your in tray. Then put the old folder to the back of the system, so now that folder is for the 14th of the next month.
  • It ok to put just a single piece of paper in a folder.
  • Reference file, just use a number of folders sorted alphabetically. Remember to purge old files that are no longer needed on a regular basis.

Key thing, always ask what the next action is and determine who is responsible for it.


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