Basic GTD: Checklists

Published on May 22, 2014 by Francisco Sáez

Checklists are a productive tool with many possibilities, though underused.

Checklists are organizational elements with infinite possibilities. They allow you to specify repetitive tasks in such detail that you do not forget anything, they document tasks so you can delegate or automate them, they help you easily review projects, goals, etc.

They can also be used as reminders to think about things you care about—usually related to your areas of responsibility—, from time to time:

  • Am I doing enough exercise?
  • Am I eating in a healthier way?
  • Do I spend enough time with my family?

Probably, every time you check one of these points, you will need to create new projects and actions to put one or more areas back on the right track.


Basic GTD: The Two-Minute Rule

Published on September 05, 2013 by Francisco Sáez

Many people says that the Two-Minute Rule creates a dramatic improvement in their productivity.

Processing is the stage of the GTD workflow in which you make decisions. You get all the stuff you have collected and, one by one, decide what you are going to do with them.

To decide, you must first clearly define what each item is. Once you have a clear and specific statement of the desired result, the first question is whether you need to take action or not. If the answer is yes, the next thing is to decide what the next action is.

Here is where the famous Two-Minute Rule comes in: If the next action can be done in two minutes or less, do it now, although it is not an urgent or high-priority task.

It need not be exactly two minutes, it may be three or five. If you have to read a short text to make the following decision, read it. If you have to send an email or make a quick call, just do it.


Basic GTD: "Big Picture" Reviews

Published on June 27, 2013 by Francisco Sáez

You need to assess your life and work at the appropriate horizons, at the appropriate intervals.

“Thinking is the very essence of, and the most difficult thing to do in, business and in life.” ~ David Kekich

A core concept of GTD is that the control of our daily activity (task and project management), to make sense and get it done efficiently, must be governed by a broader perspective (responsibilities, goals, vision and life purpose).

At some point you must clarify what you want, what your principles are and what long-term goals are the ones that drive your decisions.

It is a serious mistake not to do this thinking exercise. And it is also a mistake to do it only once and believe that things will never change. Set an appropiate frequency for your “big picture” reviews, and do not avoid them. In these reviews you should include questions like:

  • What do I want to achieve in my work?

Basic GTD: Processing Guidelines

Published on June 13, 2013 by Francisco Sáez

There are 3 basic rules you should follow if you want that the Processing Stage fulfills its mission properly.

There are 3 basic rules you should follow if you want that the Processing Stage fulfills its mission properly:

  1. The first item first. Even if the first item is a nonsense and the second is something really important, all stuff should be processed equally. If you go jumping to what you feel like processing, you will get used to avoid dealing with certain things, and the system will not work.
  2. One item at a time. When you are processing an item, you should be totally focused on it. Resist the temptation to look at other items or anything else that looks more attractive. You need to pay full attention to each item to make the right decision, and thus leave all the Inbox items well processed.
  3. Nothing goes back to the Inbox. This rule reinforces the other two. If you fall into the habit of returning things to the Inbox for processing them again, you will never strive to process stuff properly, what for? And making decisions will not be so important.

Process one thing after another, pay due attention to each one and do not return any of them to the initial situation. Process like a champ.


Basic GTD: Emptying the Inbox

Published on May 23, 2013 by Francisco Sáez

To achieve a stress-free productivity, emptying the inbox should be a daily activity.

In GTD, the inbox does not refer only to your e-mail inbox. It is a broader concept that includes all the things you have collected in different ways: tasks you have to do, ideas you have thought of, notes, bills, business cards, etc…

Actually, the GTD Inbox may include several inboxes: your e-mail inbox, a physical tray where you put all the pending papers, a software application in which you capture all your tasks, etc…

To achieve a stress-free productivity, emptying the inbox should be a daily activity. Note that this does not mean doing things, it just means identifying things and deciding what to do with them. In GTD, the term used for this is processing and, when you get it done, your situation is as follows:

  • You have eliminated every thing you do not need.
  • You have completed small actions that require no more than two minutes.
  • You have delegated some actions that you do not have to do.

Basic GTD: How and why you must collect everything

Published on April 25, 2013 by Francisco Sáez

Collecting is the first phase of your personal organization system, in which you try to collect all your incompletes and stuff in one location: your Inbox (not to be confused with the e-mail inbox).

When you start implementing GTD, this phase can take a few hours, but once everything is working, it is just about throwing to your inbox everything that shows up, in the moment it shows up.

The main reasons for gathering everything before processing, are practical:

  • It helps you get an idea of ​​the volume of stuff you are dealing with.
  • It lets you know where the end of the tunnel is.
  • When you are doing other things, you will not be psychologically distracted by an amorphous mass of stuff you have somewhere.

Basic GTD: The Calendar

Published on April 11, 2013 by Francisco Sáez

In GTD, the Calendar is used in a very different way than in other traditional management systems.

In GTD, the Calendar is used in a very different way than in other traditional time management systems.

People are so used to fill all the gaps in their Calendars to feel that their world is well organized. This system generates several problems:

  • The list contains urgent things that are mixed with things we should do and things we would like to do, so it does not have a specific meaning for us and we end up not paying much attention to it.
  • The Calendar must be reconfigured each time something new pops up or our priorities change.
  • We tend to very bad estimate the time needed to do a task. When a task is not completed in time, there is a huge sense of frustration because all the stuff that was scheduled after that, is now delayed.

In the GTD Calendar you only put actions or events that necessarily have to get done at a specific time or day. The remaining actions, which must get done as soon as possible, are kept in another separate list: Next Actions.

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