This is the third 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.
In the previous post, I’ve summarized the “collect” part, now is the turn of the “organizing” one, i.e. that dealing with the actionable things you have collected (the ones not going into the trash, maybe or references containers).
Allen suggests to have 4 different containers for the actionable stuff:
- a list of projects (and a container for the project plans/information)
- a calendar
- a list of reminders for next actions
- a list of reminders for actions you are waiting for
A project is any outcome that requires more than one action step, for example it could be get a new bed or plan the summer vacation or get a new staff person on board. A list of projects is just an index of all the things you wish to do soon (not someday!) and will have a support material: additional information, notes, brochures, a plan with scheduled dates (think about a wedding project, for example) and so on. The support material can be stored somewhere out of sight and you just need to keep shorthand the projects list.
In the calendar (just a normal calendar: a paper one or could be a web calendar as well) are going time-specific actions as appointments or actions you want to do o a specific day / week. The calendar sbstitutes the usual daily to-do list.
The Next Actions list is where all the longer-than-two-minutes actions are going. If they are more than, say 30, it’s better to divide them in categories, for example per project or environment (actions at the phone, at the computer, in garden, etc.)
And actions you delegated are going to the waiting-for-list.