Being Organized Is All about ListsAUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
"I got it all together, but I forgot where I put it." ~ Anonymous
While some people believe that GTD is a personal management system somewhat complicated to implement, the truth is that it’s extremely simple. Technically, it’s just about managing lists, and that’s something that is available to all of us. Lists let you capture an inventory of all your activities and review it when necessary.
The difficult part isn’t technical, but rather psychological, and it depends more on the person than on the method, because establishing new habits is not easy and requires time and consistency.
Lists can be managed with traditional tools, such as notebooks, folders, paper and clips —recommended for when you’re starting, so you can focus on the method instead of letting yourself go with the tool—, or with high-tech tools, really common in our current way of life, such as computers, mobile devices and the right software —recommended when you already have integrated the method and established the habits, and you need to manage a bigger workload—.
Of course, it is not about using any list, but the appropriate lists in the right way. It is really important that each list has very well defined boundaries, so that it does not allow to contain elements of different nature. From an organizational point of view, all the things that need follow-up in your personal and professional life can be grouped into seven fundamental categories:
- Next actions: List of actions you need to perform as soon as possible, all by yourself. It is advisable to create sublists according to the contexts in which the actions need to be done (home, office, computer, calls, etc.).
- Calendar: Here you only must put actions that need to be done on a specific date… and then do them. This list should be sacred territory.
- Waiting for: List of tasks you have delegated on other person or entity.
- Reference Material: It’s not about actions, but rather information you need to store because it’s useful or interesting. Classify this information into categories for a quicker access.
- Someday/Maybe: List of things you don’t know if you have to do, or that you don’t need to do them right now. You need to review regularly this list to make sure if you need to act upon something.
- Projects: List of all your open loops, which you should check often to to ensure you always have action steps defined for all your projects.
- Project Support Material: It’s the reference material associated with your projects, which will help you understand them and make decisions.
If you capture in one or several inboxes everything that comes into your life, you regularly clarify the meaning of all these things you’ve captured, you organize them correctly in the lists mentioned above, and you review them weekly to make sure they are up to date, then you are doing GTD. It’s not that difficult, right?