Getting Things Done (GTD)*, is a popular productivity methodology based on David Allen’s homononymous book (find it here). GTD has been quite abuzz in many popular web and productivity blogs such as 43 Folders, Lifehacker, Slashdot or Mashable.
Clear your head from all tasks: Collect all new stuff in some sort of inbox
Come back periodically during the day to purge the inbox: Ask yourself, is this actionable or not? If it is not, it may serve as reference for later. If it is, you have several options: do it if it takes less than 2 minutes, delegate it if someone else can do it, defer an action and either do it as soon as you can or on a specific date, and identify the next steps for those tasks that need some more thinking.
Everything you are not currently working on, is ideally collected in a repository. As you work, come back to the repository and choose the most important task based on the context and the time and resources you have available
Here is how I apply GTD with Producteev:
How I manage email:
- Emptying the inbox: I periodically empty my mailbox, I do so three to four times a day at no fixed times (fixed times can be very helpful, but I realized that I need to be flexible with my schedule).
- Delegating tasks: I delegate everything I can. In my Gmail account, I add a star to each delegated mail for which I expect an answer today. All other delegated mails end up in my “waiting for” list in Producteev. So when I forward the mail to a colleague or service provider, I BCC firstname.lastname@example.org and add “#waiting for” somewhere in the email. This will automatically create a task in my “waiting for” list in Producteev and a copy of the mails content (including attachements) will be stored in my producteev account. Read here about more sophisticated options to mail tasks to Producteev.
- Stuff I do not need to break down into more action steps come to my “tasklist” box in Producteev. I forward the mail to email@example.com and add “#tasklist” somewhere in the mail and Producteev does the rest.
- The things I need to break down into more action steps I place in my recipient box in producteev – I just forward the mail to firstname.lastname@example.org without adding any specific hashtags.
So that takes care of email – but what about the stuff from phone calls, my chats on Gtalk or the personal conversations I have during the day?
- I send all these tasks to my producteev recipient box as they come up. As you already know, my recipient box on producteev collects everything I need to think about or organize later.
- I either have my producteev dashoboard open and add tasks directly or I have my instant messenger open and send my tasks to producteev from there. The tasks I send to producteev via instant messenger services all are automatically placed in my inbox for later review. This is my “capture everything extremely fast and easy” method.
- I usually carry a paper and pen around to take notes of conversations I have during the day. Using the instant messenger method, I also put all stuff into my producteev recipient box once I get back to my desk.
*GTD and Getting Things Done are registered trademarks of David Allen & Co.