Processing – Getting In to Empty – Chapter 6
Well, I thought it was about time to write the next installment in my journey to stress free productivity utilizing the GTD system.
Hopefully, you will already have read my previous posts on Getting Started, and also my “stuff” Collection Day. Well, as stated in the collection day post, I collected rather a lot of stuff. I had two storage crates full of stuff that needed to be processed.
As I had allocated the time in my busy schedule to perform this task, I had no excuse so I got my waste paper bin ready, got a few black rubbish sacks and made a start.
I must admit that the task at hand was slightly overwhelming. My nice and neat place of work had turned into a bomb site. The emails kept coming in, the work was mounting up, and my usually tidy place of work was turned upside down. I must admit, my office is not the largest and having this amount of chaos within it did a good job of increasing my stress levels! It was time to focus and also this was more of a reason to get the processing done, so my office would be back to normal.
Here is my definition of processing based upon the GTD Methodology.
Processing is taking that stuff that you have collected and applying the GTD Workflow to identify each item, and more importantly the identification of what you are going to do with these items.
When you have finished processing, you should have performed one of the following with every item of collected stuff.
- Thrown away items that you do not need
- Delegated any items that can be delegated
- Completed any tasks that take less than two minutes
- Created reminders of actions that require more than two minutes
- Identified items that require vertical planning as projects
This is where the GTD Methodology workflow diagram comes into action and I would advise you to print one of these out and place it right where you can see at all times as a memory jogger for what you are supposed to be doing.
As it is so important, I am going to display it again and provide a quick overview of the steps in the process. Again, please buy the book – Getting Things Done, and read the full transcript of how to implement the Getting Things Done Methodology.
You can see from the workflow diagram that you start the process with your stuff. This stuff should by now be collected in your Inbox.
The first decision in the process is whether the stuff is actionable or not. Actionable items are items that you can take action upon. For example, one of my first items to process was my annual house insurance policy. There was no outstanding action for me to do with this item apart from filing it in my reference system so this is not actionable, and I would have followed the workflow diagram and filed this in my reference section.
My next item was my car tax renewal. This needed action, so it was an actionable item. There are two types of actionable items. Simple items with a next task as well as multi step items that are classed as projects, and require vertical planning, obviously utilizing the natural planning method.
Following the process, the next decision is defining what the next action is. There are three options here. The first is if the next action will take less than two minutes. If the next item will take less than two minutes, well you should waste no time and do it now. The other options are based upon the person who will take the action. If it can be delegated, it should be. The last option is to record the next action within your system of choice. In the example I have been using with my car tax renewal, it would take longer than two minutes to complete and it was an action I could not delegate. So, this item ended up being placed within my system which I will talk about in a later blog entry.
Now, the way I did this is not what was recommended in the book but I had felt I had to take an extra step. As I was running the collection/processing system in my home office I found myself with a rather large amount of personal information such as tax returns, household insurance, home appliance information etc.. So, my first, and added step was to do an initial sort through my stuff to separate it into three sections. The first section was items that were actionable, the second section was reference, and the third item was trash. Now, I know this deviates from the methodology but in my case I found that 80% of my stuff was no longer needed so went into the pile for shredding and then trashing. The remaining 20% of my stuff was already separated into reference and non-reference items. So, out came the labeler and my manila folders and I started to collate and organize the reference material.
I ensured that each item had a separate folder, and I created a label for each folder using the label machine. I sorted and labeled each of these first before I filed them into my A-Z reference file. At last, I had all of my important reference material all sorted into folders, and alphabetically filed in my A-Z filing system. Fantastic!
So, it was now onto the non-reference material. With the non-reference material I followed the GTD workflow precisely. I took each item, from the top of the pile and dealt with it. I ascertained if the item was actionable, if not, it went into the reference or someday/maybe pile. Actionable items were sorted dependent upon if they were multi-step, and more projects than tasks.
So, this is me done for this post, as my next installment to this series will concentrate on the system I have initially chosen to implement my GTD Methodology!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this, and as ever, please let me know any comments you have.
I will leave you now with todays Dilbert, that made me laugh!
Have a fantastic, organized day!