Basic GTD: How to process your stuff

By Francisco Sáez • July 28, 2011

Once you’ve collected everything that haunts you, the second stage of GTD is to process all these stuff, that is, to define exactly what each thing is and what the next step to achieve the end result is, if any.

It’s time to think a little. What is this? Be concrete. “Preparing for Friday’s meeting” is something abstract enough to encourage you not to take any action. “Writing a project status report for the Friday’s meeting” clarifies the issue.

The next question is Does it require any action? If the answer is yes, define clearly that action. Now you have three possibilities:

  1. You’re not the right person to do it. Delegate it and record it in your Waiting for list.
  2. The action would take you just a couple of minutes. Do it now.
  3. Otherwise, add it to your Next Actions list.

If no action is required, you have three other possibilities:

  1. Though you don’t have to do anything right now, you might need to do something in the future. Add it to you Someday/Maybe list to keep it under your radar.
  2. It’s information that can be useful. Keep it in your Reference Material.
  3. Otherwise, trash it.

Some tips:

  • Process your stuff one item at a time, to avoid distractions.
  • Process your stuff in the same order you collected them. They are all equal.
  • Empty your inbox every time. Do not leave anything without processing.

About the author

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Francisco Sáez (@franciscojsaez) is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a web developer specializing in Ruby on Rails who is passionate about personal productivity and GTD as a means to a better life.

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