Capture & Organize
Simple tasks For the capturing and organizing simple tasks, I use the Any.do app.
Any.do lets me add tasks quickly and organize them efficiently into sublists like “home,” “work,” and “someday/maybe.” You can even add recurring tasks for action items that you do every day, week, month and so on.
Multi-step projects If I need to plan a multi-step project, I’ll make an Any.do todo item like, “plan such and such event.” When I execute on that task I will actually plan the event by breaking it down into smaller tasks. I use Trello for this. During meetings I used pen-and-paper to capture and transfer action items (todos) to Any.do as soon as possible.
Time-sensitive items Items that have to be done at a certain time go immediately on my calendar (a Google Calendar/Outlook combo). If something needs to be done on certain day I’ll add a due date to the item in Any.do so I’ll be reminded on that day.
Paper items I have inboxes for paper items that need to be processed and put on my task list. To be honest, this is the weakest point of my system…mainly because I haven’t been disciplined in my review process for these at home. At work, I quickly scan and email most paper items to myself. Which brings me to my email system.
Email Everyday I get my inbox at work to zero. To do this I use a simple (but effective) three-folder system:
My “Follow up” folder is for any email that needs an action from me (including a reply) that I can’t do right now.
The “Hold” folder is for any email that needs further action from someone else. So anything that I’m waiting for a reply on or that someone else needs to act on before I can “close the loop.” It’s also a handy place for anything I might need for next couple of days for reference.
Everything else goes into “Archive.”
Review I schedule a weekly review on Friday to go over all of task lists. I’ve learned this step is crucial, and really the key to making GTD work. Without a disciplined review, all your nicely captured tasks stay in your nicely organized system…but may never be acted on. I look through my Any.do list, making sure things are are in the appropriate folders, adding anything that comes to mind, and transferring items to the calender if needed. I do the same thing with my projects in Trello.
Taking action My favorite feature in Any.do is how the app will guide you through planning the tasks you’d like to accomplish that day, complete with some motivational feedback when you finish your session. I do this every morning almost without fail so I can make sure to keep reviewing my list and making progress every day.
Of course, I’m not there yet. I don’t always have a mind like water. But I’m getting there one next action at a time.