One mistake I made at the beginning was to try and process and organize as I collected. What I mean by this is I’d try and write jobs under different headings in my GTD file as I was collecting them. This is a mistake. One of the key principles of GTD is you only do one thing at a time. If you’re collecting, you shouldn’t be organizing. Collecting is dealt with in a previous post. Let’s assume you’ve collected, now it’s time to organize.
Organizing involves putting the jobs into the appropriate categories: writing them under the appropriate heading, if you like.
Here are example headings I use for my general GTD file:
- General Tasks
- Dated (Scheduled) Tasks
- Waiting Tasks
- Meeting with Julie
- Meeting with Links
- Meeting with Craig
- View, Watch, Read
- Long Term
The Dated Tasks should go in your calendar.
The Waiting Tasks are those for which I’m awaiting a response. For example, a reply to an email or an answer to a query.
Note how I have separate headings for regular meetings with different people.
The View, Watch, Read heading is for books, video clips, articles I would like to read if I had more time. I look at the things here when I have the odd ten minutes.
The Maybe heading is for things I don’t have time to do at the moment. I review this occasionally, and may get round to them someday.
Long Term tasks are mainly reminders of things that will happen in at least a year’s time: reminders of contract renewals etc.
I also have a reference file and a projects file. These two have a section all to themselves, later on in this tutorial.
Organising is important. It might seem from the above that all you’ve done is simply moved your todo list around, but what you’ve really done is separated out your “inbox”. You’ve separated the reference from the actions, and eliminated the chaff. This is the secret of GTD. It’s simple but effective.