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GTD Set-up Manual (EN)

For committed souls who want to get started to Get Things Done. First steps to eventually achieve a Mind like Water ;-)

Aukje Johanna Jansen-Olthuis

on 9 December 2012

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Transcript of GTD Set-up Manual (EN)

GTD set-up manual Stuff is defined as anything:
on your mind
on the floor
to be fixed
anoying you
in the wrong place

well, you'll get the point... In some offices or households that's everything Organize office and e-mail Capture Stuff. All of it Process Stuff and use the momentum to organize next actions, too. Make a decision on any Stuff item you have Organizing tips Review weekly Spend your time consciously Pitfalls For souls who:
Read the GTD book
Attended a GTD workshop
want to sort all of it out themselves
Are too embarrased to show their mess to a professional GTD coach
need some instructions to get started You need to build your own GTD infrastructure Checklist: ps: after this step, make sure to move on to the next, as giving up at this point makes you depressed How to get the capturing done:

Put all stuff in your crisp new in tray

Any regular sized paper items will fit right in

Other stuff needs a paper representative e.g. 'get car fixed' written on a sheet of paper

Also, stuff lurking in dark corners of your consciousness needs a paper representative e.g. 'visit grandpa before he passes away'

Keep going until all stuff is captured. Untill there is nothing left on your mind. Untill there is no place in your office or home that holds undicided/incomplete/anoying items except your crisp new in tray. This process may take days

For a lite version: get started with your e-mails. It gets captured automatically, and do the rest bit by bit every day Get it out of your head, and allow nothing back in anymore You will now start putting items on your lists Make your actions in tasty bite size chuncks, ready to eat. You cannot wait to get them done For beginners as well as experienced GTD practitioners Set up once. Fine tune whenever needed. Capturing goes on continuously for the rest of your life.
It gets better once you've worked your way through arrear stuff that built up for years Empty all in trays daily using this flow chart. Just do it. Apply discipline. Your tempo slows down if you slack on this Do this weekly. Take enough time (2 hours). Do it thoroughly. Do it completely. Make this a daily routine, so you don't need to think about it. To get used to new routines, use checklists Use this flow chart to guide all stuff items to one of your four lists, your calender, reference or trash
Have an empty in tray and an empty e-mail inbox once a day
Start on top, work your way through to the bottom
Do not put anything back
Do not do the tasty items first
Make all necessary decisions, do not procrastinate on this

Deciding is the very first step to take to complete the item, you will experience peace of mind by doing it! What is my desired outcome? Someday / Maybe list Next Actions list Projects list Calender Waiting on list Infrastructure
Your material/tool is holding you back and you do nothing about it. Like a complicated task manager you cannot easily approach
Your filing cabinet is messy and you leave it that way, it makes you procrastinate on filing reference material Collecting
You do not collect everything and anything on your mind
You tend to decide whilst collecting (and the consequences freak you out so you decide not to collect that item) Deciding
You procrastinate on deciding and you leave items in your in tray
You fake dicisions
You have a long someday/maybe list because you don't make decisions when you have to
You have a long projects list because you don't dare to postpone Organizing
You are not explicit enough on the tasks you put on your next actions list
You refrain from making a next action a tasty bite sized chunck of work
You have no useful categories on your next actions list Reviewing
You have no time for a weekly review
You procrastinate on your weekly review
You start your weekly review but you don't finish it Doing
You also put ambitions or wishfull thinking items on your calender, and you skip those regularly
You are very busy doing things that are not on your next actions list
You procrastinate on your next actions Daily Routine
Only have day/time specific items on your calendar (and include time to travel)

Make sure to balance time spent on meetings and time spent on next actions. Meetings give you stuff, guaranteed!

Have your in trays empty once daily

Always keep on collecting, keep nothing inside your head Tips to do more in less time:
Single task

Use your categories: find actions that fit the situation (context; time; priority and energy level wise) and/or find situations that fit your actions (e.g. find a quiet spot when there are only concentration tasks left on your list

set yourself a sensible deadline

Do big or nasty tasks first, whenever possible/practical

Take a break when you need one, but do not procrastinate

Delegate tasks. Invest time in delegating, be clear about your desired outcome

Focus on important tasks, before they get urgent This very important step is the key succesfactor of your GTD system! Why a Weekly Review?
You'll have 4 lists, and a calender
These are very dynamic
You need to review them regularly in order to stay in control of your workflow
A weekly review is a natural routine How to make the review a doable task:
Organize silence. Avoid disturbance
By doing the weekly review on a fixed moment in your week, it will become a routine
Take about two hours for this concentration task
Choose a convenient moment
Use a checklist, so you don't have to think of the review itself and all your attention is available for tuning your lists (using the same checklist every week helps you to adopt the routine more easily)

Do it thorougly. Do not compromise and do not procrastinate. You'll be rewarded by a satisfied feeling of ease, joy and control Weekly Review Checklist:
Make sure you gather all stuff and process it

Review your calender
Scroll back at least one week and gather loose ends associated with last weeks' schedule. Process them
Scroll at least two weeks forward and gather stuff associated with meetings and deadlines in the weeks ahead. Process it

Review your next actions list. Add follow up actions, change deadlines or categories if necessary, tick off actions you've done.

Review your waiting on list. Formulate next actions ('pick up oldtimer from mechanic') and decide to remind others (sending reminders are mostly next actions)

Review your projects list:
Decide if your desired outcome is still the same
Make sure you have sufficient commitment to any project on your list
Make sure you make a conscious decision on the next action with every project on your list, and add that to your next actions list
Note: the more projects on your list, the slower they move each. Find a good balance

Review your Someday / Maybe list
Decide if the item still has value and if not, toss it
Decide if the item should move to projects and/or next actions
If yes: formulate a desired outcome and a next action

Find a balance between your next week's schedule and your ambitions on your next actions list

Be silent for 5 minutes. Write down anything that comes up. Process

Celebrate this feeling of ease, joy and clear view A lot of your organizing functionality depends on how you designed your infrastructure in de first place. If it doesn't work, or if you find yourself avoiding to look at your lists, change tool/strategy/design! Some logic:
Your projects list contains all desired outcomes you'd like to accomplish
You want to make progress on your projects
You make sure you have a next action for all your projects on your next actions list
You probably have many next actions
You need a smart way to keep those organized Smart way to organize your next actions: Categorize them on:
Context / tools (where can I do this task and what tools do I need? E.g. on the bus, phone, online, errands, etc.)
Time available (how long will it take me to complete this task? 5 mins, 15 mins, 30 mins etc)
Priority (does this task have a deadline and is this project in my areas of focus? Urgent, Important, or both)
Energy level (concentration task or just a quick win?)

instead of labeling them according to subject or theme.
Allow more than one relevant category per task (a 15 mins phone call that needs to be done this week and that I really need to concentrate on)

Your next actions are now like petit fours on an etagere. Or a freshly made sushi tray. Omnomnom! Needless to say:
When you make a phone task: copy the phone number
When you have a 'read blog' task, add hyperlink
When you need to write an e-mail, summarize what it is about Note: GTD tells you how to do it. You must be willing to adopt new habits and stick to them in a disciplined manner
You should be able to picture yourself doing your tasks. It must be an actual physical action Organize your e-mail: make folders for Archive, Waiting-On and Someday/Maybe items (and get rid of all the others if you've got the nerve!)

Install a Next Actions list (online is recommended as you can view it anywhere)
Install a Projects list (digital/online, but this could also be a drawer with project folders in alphabetical order to hold support material)

At this point, many digital task managers will do the job, as you have no idea what you'll find important features after a few months of practicing GTD. Don't procrastinate because you have not found 'the one'. You can always change

Make sure there are minimal barriers as this infrastructure is the home of your GTD personal organization system! Checklist continued: I hope this manual was useful to you. If you'd like to give me feedback, please leave a comment! Or contact me on Twitter @aukjeo By Johanna Jansen
Care for your reference material. You need to be able to find things back. Get a filing cabinet and/or make filing folders on your computer. Organize alphabetically, not thematically. Use your favorite material and favorite colors as filing needs to be fun. Use a labeler. Have plenty folders available. When you choose to file digitally, make folders in one level and name your files sensibly

Get capturing tools that suit your style. Install an App or get nice booklets and fancy pens. Make sure to have an in tray near your desk for loose papers, letters and bills. Your e-mail inbox is also an important in tray! Don't get too many, you'll need to empty all of them on a daily basis. Keep practical

Get three folders (nice ones, durable ones) for paper representatives of 1) waiting on items (e.g. ticket from dry cleaner); 2) Someday/Maybe items (e.g. discount voucher for that new sushi bar in town) and 3) Next Actions support material (e.g. the article you intend to read this week)
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