Getting Things Done – Collect

This is the second article in a series providing a summary “book club” reading of Mr. David Allen’s  “Getting Things Done”. I’m reading from the 2001  Penguin Books edition.

To collect is the first step in the GTD workflow and is aimed to have everything, every incomplete task or project documented outside your mind.

Allen suggests to spend a few days thinking about all your goals and tasks and to collect every input into some tool, either a physical in-basket or a paper notebook or a voice recording device and so on.

The three requirements to make a collection device working are:

  1. every open loop MUST BE in your collection system and out of your head.
  2. you MUST HAVE as few as possible collection systems (ideally only one, always with you).
  3. you MUST EMPTY them regularly.

GTD workflow process
The last point requires some additional explanation. In practice, for every item in the collection system you should ask yourself:

What is it? Figure out what yand if you have to do something with it.

If no action is needed now but something might need to be done later or could be useful later then put it into the Incubation system or into the Reference system (will be clarified in the next steps).

If no action is required then remove it.

If there is something to do about it, you need first to clarify what (is a big project? A simple task? A series of actions?), then it should be:

  • done immediately if it’s a simple action (Allen suggests when it requires  less than two minutes)
  • delegated if someone else should do it
  • defered if it’s not a simple action (put it into the calendar or in a Projects/Next Actions system).

Next step: organize

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