The five steps to control
David Allen’s GTD methodology is summed up by his Five Steps That Apply Control to Chaos”. I love it! Here we go:
The heart of GTD are the 5 steps used to process ‘Life’s random inputs’ or ‘stuff.
They are, in brief:
Capture all your stuff taking your attention
Clarify what it is
Organise it by placing it where it belongs
Reflect on your action lists
Engage – get the work done!
I’ll take you through each step by showing you how I do it. However, the real power of this will come with setting up you own system using the tools and platforms and processes you are already familiar with.
Let’s go through each step and I’ll show you how I do it
Step One: CAPTURE – Collect what has your attention
David Allen says: Heads are for having ideas – not holding them
I agree. We are constantly overloading our ‘ram’ – it feels like there is heaps to do but if you down load it – there often isn’t as much as you think. Holding stuff in your head is exhausting – there is a low level (or high level) of stress that sits over us as we worry what we are missing. Better to get it out so we can actually see what we are missing!
So your first step is simply getting everything our of your head capturing it somewhere safe. What’s got your attention? Is it work to be done, issues to be solved, emails to be read, ideas to be developed or implemented?
Use an in-tray, notepad, digital list, or voice recorder to capture everything that has your attention. Little, big, personal and professional—all your to-do’s, projects, things to handle or finish.
Step Two: CLARIFY – Process what it means
Take everything that you capture and ask: Is it actionable? If no, then trash it, incubate it, or file it as reference. If yes, decide the very next action required. If it will take less than two minutes, do it now. If not, delegate it if you can; or put it on a list to do when you can.
I love this – in the next section I’ll share a method of ‘trashing it’ – or I like to saying ‘ditching it’ without risk or fear.
Step Three: ORGANISE – Put it where it belongs
Put action reminders on the right lists. For example, create lists for the appropriate categories—calls to make, errands to run, emails to send, etc.
Most of my actions are generated by emails so I have found I can save emails as ‘Tasks’ in my diary – I get to decide when I am going to do them and never loose them – they are there when I get to that day.
I also use Trello as a collaborative team work management system. Check it out. It is super easy to use and ensures that everyone’s work is in one place – and they can tick their work off so you can see very quickly when things are done or not.
Step Four: REFLECT – Review frequently
Look over your lists as often as necessary to trust your choices about what to do next. Do a weekly review to get clear, get current, and get creative.
This is the weak link in the chain and where I find myself loosing it! It is so important to do this step that I dive a little deeper into it in a later section.
Step Five: ENGAGE – Simple do
Use your system to take appropriate actions with confidence.