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GTD® Adoption Plan

This is a step-by-step approach to implement Getting Things Done® (GTD®). GTD is developed by David Allen and presented through his company David Allen Company, I've had a GTD system in place since I was introduced to the approach in 1993 (then called MAP ­ Managing Action & Projects). With the increase in GTD's popularity, I've been getting more and more questions from friends and family. My purpose and goal in putting together this plan is to have something to give to them that is as brief and practical as possible, to help them adopt GTD. I have no intention of duplicating what David Allen already has explained in his book, but may remind the reader of certain key points. You are expected to be familiar with the GTD approach. This plan will work well together with David Allen's book "Getting Things Done, the Art of Stress-Free Productivity." You can gain two things by implementing a GTD system for yourself: get more things done and be less stressed about it. Its purpose is not to get Everything done, because Everything could be a lot and therefore completely unrealistic. But it will help you choose wisely among Everything. GTD is a practice; don't expect to ever "arrive" at some perfect place. As you practise you will discover more and more subtle levels. One measurement of how well you practise is, as David Allen puts it, by how will you do "nothing." The disciplines to practise are: · · · · · Collect everything Process your in-basket "daily" Think when things show up, not when they blow up Make your next actions concrete and doable Do a "weekly" review

The plan is divided into steps, each on its own page so you can assemble them in the order you prefer. You can set aside a weekend and run through the whole plan, or you can do each step as time allows. Some steps require other steps to be completed. If you decide to do it all in one fell swoop, there are some steps that you would obviously not do until some later time. A GTD day you would want to do the day after you've completed your set-up; Weekly review would be good to do a week (!) later. Getting back on the wagon and A black belt assessment are also for later. If you instead decide to do it over time, I suggest this road map. These steps in any order: 1. Get started Set up initial system First mind sweep Process mind sweep (after First mind sweep) Set up someday/maybe Unclutter your calendar Cultivate a collection habit Process your in-basket A GTD day Weekly review


Set up and use the core system

GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company.


Add to the core system

Set up office Process e-mail Brainstorm a project Checklists Set up a tickler file Set up general A ­ Z filing Set up a mobile office Inventory ­ physical Inventory ­ areas of focus Getting back on the wagon


Optional additions to your system if you want them


Get squeeky clean


Keep going

Feel free to e-mail me any comments or questions at christina [at] I'm happy to hear from you! Best wishes Christina Skaskiw Hebden Bridge, September 2009

Additional resources

Check out for lots of resources. In particular: Free articles: Some of these are referenced in the steps below. Free podcasts: Free news letter: Productive Living GTD Times blog: GTD Connect, an online community with lots of cool stuff including members-only podcasts and a forum. Membership is $48/month, but you can try out for free for two weeks:

Copyright notice: You may distribute this freely, put please keep it all thogether including this copyright notice. Or simply point people to

©2009 Christina Skaskiw

Set up initial system

Prerequisites: none This is a logical place to start. However, if you're feeling overwhelmed, start with First mind sweep. Or, if you're not sure what you want your system to look like, start with First mind sweep, and then read through Process mind sweep to give you some ideas. You may not be able to do this step in one go as you may need to go shopping. At this stage it's more important to get started and try it on for size, than it is to have the best system. Use what you already have, before buying. Once you're getting into it, you will have a better idea of what will serve you. You will also find that as you go forward in life your needs will change and your system will need to be updated accordingly. Your system is never "done". So for the system you are putting in place now, its main purposes are for you to learn GTD, understand your own needs, and experience for yourself the reduction in stress. Do this: 1. Download "My GTD System" worksheet ( and work through the "Initial system" section. 2. Aquire all the pieces. This may require some shopping. If you decided on a paper system, here is an article on how to put one together 3. Once you have something for your list manager, set up your initial lists: a. Make a list to hold your active projects, label it "Projects". This can be an index card, a page in your paper-based system, or a category in your electronic system. b. Add "Get started with my GTD system" as your first project. A project in GTD has a desired outcome that requires more than one action to complete. Your desired outcome for this project is to complete this plan, minus any steps you're not interested in. c. Next, decide on the contexts you need for your next actions. They should be contexts in which you find yourself where you need to get things done. Consider the following and add any other contexts that are relevant to you: i. @Calls ii. @Desk iii. @Errands iv. @Home Prepare lists for each of your chosen contexts. Label each list with its context (or create a category). If unsure of a context, leave for now because you can always add it when you need it. These are your "next actions" lists. 4. If there are any of the pieces to your system that you still need to buy or otherwise aquire, add them to your @Errands list, or whichever list makes most sense to you. 5. Add to the relevant next actions list (depending on context in which you will do the action) your next step in this plan. This is either "do First mind sweep", or, if you already completed that, "Process initial mind sweep". 6. Create a list for "Waiting for". 7. Do your errands, if any. When they are done, mark them off your list, for example with a check mark, highlighter, or strike-through. (It may be useful to be able to read what it said afterwards, so a heavy black marker is not a good choice.) ©2009 Christina Skaskiw

First mind sweep

Prerequisites: none If you're feeling overwhelmed, this is a great first step. It exploits that stress relieving aspect of GTD of getting everything out of your head and onto paper (or some other media) so that your mind no longer is expected to remember it all. Do this: 1. Find the "Incompletion Triggers" list in the GTD book. 2. Sit down with a paper pad and good pen, or for an electronical alternative, start any word processer or even spreadsheet application that you are well familiar with. You want to be able to let your mind flow and not be distracted by the tool you're using. If you opt for an electronic capture and you find yourself mulling over which font to use, or whether you need another column label, stop and change to paper. 3. Write down anything and everything that comes to mind that you know you need to do or would like to do. Just let it all bubble up to the surface to be recorded. Consider work as well as private things ­ financial, legal, social, home related, maintenance, courses, correspondance, health, family, recreation, hobbies, and anything else that has your attention. Whatever problems and frustrations you're currently dealing with should be captured. Don't be concerned with how you phrase it or spell it, just let it out. Just like pop-corn, you may at first just get a couple of thoughts, then things start to pick up momentum, and eventually it dies down with the occasional "pop". 4. When nothing else seems to be forth-coming, review your list. (Should there be straggling thoughts, simply add them as they show up.) High-light those items that are urgent and important. Because we're still in the process of setting up the system, for now, write these on a separate piece of paper and get them done as needed. 5. If you completed "Set up initial system" before the mind sweep, you can now mark off "First mind sweep" and add "Process mind sweep" to your @Desk next actions list (or whichever list you prefer). If you have yet to "Set up initial system", this is your next step. After doing a mind sweep like this, most people feel a reduction in stress and more in control. Do you? The psychology behind this is that you now know what it is you are not doing instead of having a vague sense of something infinite you're not sure if you should be doing; you can take stock and have a concrete and relevant feeling response to the bounded set of the urgent and important things you need to tackle right now.

©2009 Christina Skaskiw

Process mind sweep

Prerequisites: "Set up initial system" and "First mind sweep" both completed. The purpose of this step is to go through your first mind sweep and put it into your system. Do this: 1. Review your list from the mind sweep step and do one of the following: a. If an item represents something that you decide you are not going to worry about and track, simply cross it off. Something may have come to mind during the mind sweep that you don't want to pursuit after all. For example, "get tatoo". b. If an item represents something that you would like to do someday, but is not anything you intend to start in the near future, mark it with an "S" for someday, maybe. For example, "convert loft" or "get a newer car". c. If an item represents something that will happen at a certain time, put it in your calendar. This might be a meeting or an appointment, which has a date and a time, or just day specific, like somebody's birthday. Additionally, this item may also carry some preparatory action, like "set agenda" or "buy gift", or even a whole project like "arrange birthday party", which is covered below. d. If an item represents something you definitly want to be working on now, decide if it is a project, i.e., there are several actions to do before it's complete, or a very simple task, such as "buy cat food". A key to GTD is to make sure our to do's are physically do-able, concrete next actions. Something is not a next action if you don't have the information you need, or you need to do something else first. Next actions begin with verbs, such as "call", "write", "paint", "mend", "look up". i. Put any simple task straight on the appropriate next actions list. ii. For projects, come up with a short description of your desired outcome and put that on your projects lists. For example, "be a size 14", "garage clean, organised and fit for purpose", "new system training rolled out", or "trip to tokyo". Certain words can be helpful, such as "completed", "finalized", and "researched". Seek to express it in such a way that it can be true or false. When they become true, your project is done. iii. For each identified project, make sure there is a next action on one of your next actions lists, or possibly a "waiting for" entry, in case things are already in motion and you are waiting for input from someone else. Prefix your waiting for entries with whom or what you are waiting for, for example, "will: confirmation re nil slips". e. When the item has been organized into your system, cross it off your mind sweep list. 2. When you reach the bottom of your mind sweep list, go through it again and make sure all items have either been crossed off (not doing, or in system) or marked with an "S". 3. Save your mind sweep list for "Set up someday/maybe", and add this step to your @Desk, or similar, next actions list. Hopefully, you feel a sense of greater control having done this. At this stage you can do pretty much any of the rest of the steps in this plan. If you feel there is still more to be gathered, you can go on to "Inventory ­ physical" and/or "Inventory ­ areas of focus" for more mind sweeping. Other good steps to do next are "Unclutter your calendar", "Process your in-basket" or "Process e-mail". ©2009 Christina Skaskiw

Set up someday/maybe

Prerequisite: "First mind-sweep" Sometimes we get ideas to do things, but we're not ready to start acting on them, or we may not even know if we ever really want to do them. If we were to track these on our projects and next actions lists, it could quickly overwhelm us and make us lose perspective. Instead of keeping these in our active system, we want to park them somewhere where we can regularly review them, for example during our weekly review. We want a someday/maybe list. A someday/maybe list can take any form really. You could use the same system that you use for next actions, but create special categories for someday/maybes. You could prefix them so they sort below the next actions in an electronic system, or create some sort of filtered view. You could put them in a mindmap. You could have sub-categories to facilitate reviewing, for example, vacation ideas, someday soon, or someday with the kids. You could organise them according to your areas of focus, maybe in a mind-map. You could keep a paper folder in which you can stick notes, leaflets, and cut-outs. You may want to consider using your someday/maybes to park even those projects that you know you are going to start soon, but it's either not quite time yet or you don't have the bandwidth to start at the moment, so that you keep your projects list and next actions clean and focused on what you are currently engaged in. A regular weekly review will make this work well, as you know you will be back to review your someday soon's in time. Do this: 1. Decide how you want to organise your someday/maybes. Electronically, paper based, mind-map? Set it up. May require shopping if you decide on a paper version and don't have the stationary already. 2. If you did the "First mind-sweep" you already have a bunch of someday/maybes that you can now organise into your new someday/maybe system piece. A someday/maybe is simply a reminder of what you want to do. Once it becomes an active project you will clarify your desired outcome and create concrete next actions. 3. Review your projects and next actions lists to see if there are items you'd rather "shelve" for the time being and move them onto your someday/maybe lists instead.

©2009 Christina Skaskiw

Unclutter your calendar

Prerequisites: You have completed "Set up initial system" and you have a calendar you have been using some time before that. You may have been using a calendar to remind you of things you would like to have done on a certain day, sort of for planning purposes, and found yourself moving to do's forward as you ended up not doing them when you thought you would. You may even have forgotten about something altogether, as you turned the page to a new day, or a new week. GTD stipulates that your calendar should be used only for date and time specific information, because this moving items forward is a waste of effort and because of the risk of forgetting things. Your to do's belong on your next actions lists. Do this: 1. Open your calendar to a day some time in the past. You need to decide how far back you need to go to feel sure that you won't miss anything important. 2. Go through what's in there from that day and forward, and see if anything triggers any actions you still need to do. Enter these into your next actions lists. If anything requires more than one action to complete, formulate a desired outcome for it on your projects list. 3. As you get to today's page, continue in the same vein, but if you can, erase the entries as you have moved them onto your next actions lists, leaving only the date and time specific entries. There is yet another tool that you can add to your system and use to remind yourself of things on a specific day: a tickler file. A tickler file is essentially a perpetual file-based calendar into which you can insert pieces of paper (or other small flat things). Each day you empty the contents of the foremost file and put it at the back. It is a very powerful and useful tool. There is an article on that explains how to set it up:

©2009 Christina Skaskiw

Cultivate a collecting habit

Prerequisites: "Set up initial system" completed, in particular: the pocket notepad and the in-basket. A key habit to cultivate as part of being a GTD:er is to collect everything -- every thought we want to be reminded of, every promise we make. This, together with a trusted system, is what reduces our stress, because our minds can now relax, knowing we will be reminded in due time. Do this: 1. Always carry something with which you can record your thoughts and ideas. A simple pocket-sized notepad and pen is most effective. Other good capture tools are mobile phone cameras and sound recording devices such as dictafones or, again, mobile phone applications. There are loads of other solutions offered on the internet and elsewhere. 2. When you think of something you want to remember, write it down or record it on your dictafone. 3. When you promise somebody you will do something, capture it. 4. When you are notified by your boss, the tax man, library or anyone else reminding you of your duties and commitments, capture it. 5. Tear off your notes and put them in your in-basket, or put your dictafone there. 6. When reminders and notifications arrive through mail or otherwise, put it in your in-basket. 7. Put loose buttons in your in-basket. Dead batteries. Empty cartridges. Anything that will help remind you of actions you need to take. As you become more accustomed to your system, there are times you can capture next actions straight into your lists or calendar.

©2009 Christina Skaskiw

Process your in-basket

Prerequisite: "Set up initial system" completed, and you have collected stuff in your in-basket. Do this: 1. Refer to the workflow diagram in "Getting Things Done", or download it from 2. Pick up the top item from your in-basket. Run it through the process. What do you need to do with it, if anything? Can it be trashed? Need to save it for reference? Add it to a project folder? Add a project to your projects list? Add a next action to one of your next actions lists? If it takes 2 minutes or less to do the action required, do it now; tracking it on your lists takes more time and is a waste of time. 3. Do the next item, and so on until in-basket is empty. Ideally, you get to the bottom of your in-basket once a day. There will be times, however, when you won't have time to process properly. A quick "emergency scan" can let you know if anything urgent is hiding in there. For things you want to file for reference, you may have some system in place. If not, you're likely to be sitting with the item in your hand not know what to do with it. For now, you can temporarily create a pile of things to file, then do step "Set up a filing system" at a later stage. If you have a system, but prefer to file larger batches all together, you can set up a similar basket to your in-basket as a collection point for items to file.

©2009 Christina Skaskiw

A GTD day

Prerequisite: "Set up initial system" With your system in place, you now get to integrate it all into your day. Do this: 1. First thing in the morning (or the night before if you prefer) a. Check your calendar for any day or time-specific commitments or reminders. b. Check your tickler if you have one. c. Check your next actions lists in the appropriate contexts. d. You may want to set up alarms on your mobile phone or in your calendar software, to remind you of critical events. 2. Go enjoy your life. Refer to your system as needed. Do work a. that you've defined on your next actions list b. as it shows up 3. Collect the bits and pieces that come your way and plunk them in your in-basket. 4. At some point during the day process your in-basket and your e-mails to zero (i.e. defining new work).

Here's an article on the three-fold nature of work that may help with some additional understanding:

©2009 Christina Skaskiw

Weekly review

Prerequisites: "Set up initial system", used the system for a week or so The weekly review is one of those key habits that require discipline for most people to aquire. It is during the weekly review that you update your system to keep it live and well. For some people it works well to keep it regular to every Friday afternoon or Monday morning, or which ever time in the week that suits them. Others may not have a life that is regular enough to accomodate a steady cadence like that. You may find that you struggle to get to it on a weekly basis, but that's really ok, as long as you get to it! If you do it more or less weekly, you will find that you'll have a good sense of what's current and important for the upcoming week, and you may find that you are not referring that much to your lists until the next weekly review. In that way it frees you up to live your life in a nice flow plus saves you time in the end. Do this: 1. Download and print the check list from As you use the checklist, scribble additional checkpoints and reminders to personalize it to your needs. At some stage, create your own checklist. 2. Block off a time when you can work undisturbed in your office for one to two hours. 3. Do it!

Helpful hints: · · Make it nice: play suitable music, make a cup of tea or coffee, light a candle ... In later work, David Allen has divided the weekly review into three distinct phases: get clear, get current, and get creative. In the get clear phase the goal is to collect and process all the bits of stuff that has accumulated. In the get current phase you go through your system, crossing off any next actions that you've completed, checking your calendar and reviewing your projects to remind you of any next actions that need to go on your lists. In the third phase, get creative, you get to think about new things you may want to start. If you have set up someday/maybe lists, they are reviewed in this phase. You may want to spend some time brain-storming a new project. Some people find it easier to do the "get clear" phase the night before they do the rest of the review. I've also found that I don't always do the "get creative" phase, because my plate is full anyway.

©2009 Christina Skaskiw

Set up office

Prerequisites: "Set up initial system" In this step, you get to organize your office space. If you are one of those people who feel uncomfortable when things are too neat, remember that organized is not the same as neat. Organized is simply "a place for everything and everything in its place". Do this: 1. Download and read This 5 page article covers a little bit more than just setting up your office, such as weekly review stuff, but you can ignore that for now. 2. Have a think about how you would like to set up your office. Maybe it's just fine the way it is, or only requires minor adjustments, or maybe you're looking to do more of an overhaul. If the latter is the case, for the purpose of this exercise, settle on a temporary solution so that you at least have a space that will work for you for now. In particular think about where to put your in-basket and where to keep project folders. 3. If your work space is very cluttered, you will need to unclutter it. Some boxes are likely to come in handy. Read the rest of the instruction to determine your need and get some boxes. 4. From the article you will have learned that there are permanent and transitory items. The permanent ones are supplies, reference material, equipment, and decorations. Everything in your office that is not supplies, reference material, equipment, or decorations need to be coralled, processed and organized. How you attack your piles of stuff is up to you, but here's one way you can do it: a. Extract everything that is not supplies, reference material, equipment, or decorations and pile it on a side table or on the floor. Regard this as your temporary, extra large in-basket. b. With transitory clutter set aside you should have space to set up your office according to your think in step 2. You may want to do some cleaning in the process, but for now limit your cleaning to a convenient minimum in order to get things in their place. (Please do not empty all your bookshelves and vacuum all your books at this time. If that needs doing, perhaps a deep clean office project should go on your projects list.) 5. Go through and process all your stuff: a. Trash whatever is trash. Empty cartridges, dead batteries, etc., should trigger actions for getting new and "live" supplies, so enter these types of reminders on your errands list. b. Put anything that you want to keep for future reference, but is not related to any current projects or actions, in a box labelled "reference" or "file". c. Project support materials should be collected and organized in folders or similar. This could be business cards, print-outs, brochures, notes, and whatever pertaining to specific projects. A separate "pending basket" can be used to hold support material for all the smaller tasks. Remember that all action reminders should go onto your next actions lists and no hidden reminders should be lurking in your project and action support materials. d. Use the article as a checklist for getting any supplies or equipment that you are missing and add these to your errands list. 6. Decide on what to do with the reference box (boxes) and enter appropriate projects, next actions or someday maybe's to your system.

©2009 Christina Skaskiw

Process e-mail

Prerequisites: "Set up initial system" E-mail is also an in-basket. Although you could print each e-mail and put the printout in your in-basket, it is not a very efficient way to handle e-mail. Getting e-mail under control is something many struggle with and there is tons of advice. If you have hundreds, if not thousands, of e-mails in your inbox, this step is for you. If you don't, you can still get some tips on how to integrate e-mail into your GTD system. Do this: 1. Schedule a large chunk of time when you can process your e-mail undisturbed. 2. Download this article and read it: 3. Have a think about how you would like to organize your e-mails and decide on a way. It doesn't have to be the perfect system you will use for the rest of your days, because these are fairly easy to re-organize. Here are some ideas: a. Create an "Archive" sub-folder under which you will create new sub-folders as needed to sort e-mails you want to keep for reference. No action should be required on e-mails that get moved to Archive. At the end of the year, you might rename it to "Archive 2009" and create a new Archive subfolder for the new year. b. Create a "Personal" sub-folder with sub-folders for personal correspondance you want to keep. There should be no actions on these either, not even "reply to". Again, you can rename it to "Personal 2009" at the end of the year, and start up a new one. c. Create folders "@Action" and "@Waiting for" for active e-mails. If you are concerned with your "@Action" folder to become a black hole in your system, install the habit of keeping that folder open, rather than your "in-box". Go to your in-box to download, process, and organize only. d. Create a folder "@Projects" with sub-folders for your active projects in which to keep emails pertaining to that project. These should be for reference only, and any actions captured elsewhere in your system. They are an equivalent to your paper based project folders. e. Enter any next actions on your next actions next actions lists as needed. If you are using an electronic to do list that is integrated with your e-mail, such as Outlook, you can create next actions from e-mails. If you do, rename the subject to the action you want to take. Also, take some time to learn the ins and outs of creating tasks from e-mails, as there are ways to move or copy, attach or convert, and find a way that works for your needs. 4. Set up some folders in your e-mail program according to your decision above. You can always add and adapt as you go. 5. Get started on processing your e-mails. One way might be to sort them by date and go through the oldest ones first. You may be able to throw most away very quickly. Once you get to newer ones, you might want to sort by sender or topic. Move e-mails into trash, Archive sub-folders and any action folders you've set up. Add any next actions to your system. 6. If you got through all your e-mails in the above step, you may be staring at an empty in-box for the first time in years. Although this is cause for celebration, there is one more step: look through your sent items folder for a month back or so, to see if there are any e-mails you sent that you want to track as waiting fors, and drag them to your waiting for folder.

©2009 Christina Skaskiw

Brainstorm a project

Prerequisites: "Set up initial system" Projects in GTD speak are outcomes that require more than one action to complete. The very basics we need to keep a project on track and out of our head is a clear understanding of the desired outcome and the next actions to take. During our weekly review, we revisit each desired outcome and if the outcome is not made manifest yet, we make sure we have some next actions on our lists. In the case of more complicated projects, we probably want to have a good think up front. In GTD the recommendation is to use the Natural Planning Model to flesh out a project. Do this: 1. When the project shows up initially, you create a next action to "brainstorm project xyz". 2. Set aside some time to go through the Natural Planning Model for your project: a. Define purpose and principles ­ why are you doing this? What principles will guide you? b. Envision the desired outcome ­ what will be true when you've completed? c. Brainstorm about the project ­ "fill in the blank" between current reality and your desired outcome, write it all down. d. Organise the information you've generated ­ put your desired outcome on your projects list if it's not there yet, maybe start a folder (paper and/or electronic) in which you will keep project support material. You can put your brainstorm scribblings in here for a start. e. Identify next actions ­ add them to your next actions lists.

Some additional pointers: · Problems are projects. If you find yourself thinking about a problem (pay attention to what has your attention) come up with a vision of what it will look like when you've successfully dealt with this problem, your desired outcome. These are things you may not think of as projects, but if you do, it will greatly help you move toward a resolution. For example, a health problem or a relationship break-down. Here's an article to read more on projects Project reference or project support material is handy to have collected all together in a folder. I find that for some projects I generate paper materials, electronic materials and e-mails. I will then maintain a paper folder, an electronic folder (in my file system under #Projects/<project name>) as well as an e-mail folder in my e-mail client (under #Projects/<project name>). (And it doesn't necessarily stop there, I might have bookmarked web-pages too. Bookmarks can also be organised in folders.) What's important about project support material is that it should not hold your reminders; it is for reference only. Next actions go on your next actions lists. However, you may want to keep reminders of actions to take in the future in there, which are reviewed and made active during your weekly review. There is also the notion of action support material, stuff that relates to single actions. You could keep these all together somewhere around your work area, for example in an in-basket type tray.



©2009 Christina Skaskiw


Prerequisites: "Set up initial system" Checklists help in making routine tasks more efficient. Checklists can take many forms, for example, simple list, table, or mind-map. They serve as canned next actions and you don't have to put them on your next actions lists, as long as the final outcome sits there or on your projects list. Unless, of course, you want to Do this: 1. Consider which checklists you would use. Here are some examples for your consideration: · Packing lists · Accounting routines · Leaving house for trip · Evacuation checklist (hope you never need this one, though) · Events you prepare for regularly, such as presenting a training course · Books, movies, music, wine, ... to buy 2. Spend some time creating checklists and/or make next actions for checklists you'd like to create. If you make them on your computer, I suggest you print them. As you use the checklist you are bound to find ways to improve them, or your needs change. Having them printed makes amendments easy and once they get cluttered enough you can update the softcopy and print new ones. In the future you may find yourself making up checklists on the fly.

©2009 Christina Skaskiw

Set up a tickler file

Prerequisites: "Set up office" A tickler file is like a perpetual calendar in which to hold stuff for some time in the future. It may seem like an advanced piece in a GTD system, but it is really, really, really useful. Do this: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Download and read Acquire the requisite 43 folders and a file box for them. Organise them to reflect today's date, as explained in the article. Start putting stuff in it. Remember to check it each morning (or maybe the night before).

©2009 Christina Skaskiw

Set up general A ­ Z filing

Prerequisites: "Set up office" You probably have some way to keep your financial papers organised and perhaps filing systems for specific things for your work, such as patient journals. But what about all those little bits of paper and articles of interest that you wish to keep for reference, where do they go? David Allen suggests a general A ­ Z filing system where you simply put each item in a folder, label it, and file all folders alphabetically. Hanging folders take up way much space, so you want to use some sort of tabbed or square-cut manilla folder. Square-cut are nice because you can make long labels, but they don't show as well as tabbed ones. (In Europe it's difficult to find good, tabbed manilla folders in A4 size. If you know of a source PLEASE let me know!!!) Keep a generous stack of new file folders handy at all times. And you'll need a cabinet or filing box, or boxes, to keep the files in. Do this: 1. Down-load and read 2. Get lots of the folders you decide to use, and something to keep them in. 3. A labeller machine is nice to have, so acquire one if you want one. Black print on white tape is recommended, as you can reuse folders and tape over old labels. 4. Set aside and afternoon, or several. 5. Dig out all those things you want to file and get cranking. You might want to take a before and after picture Every once in a while you will want to prune your files. You could do a little now and then, for example while you're on hold on a phone call. Or you might stumble across an obsolete file while you're filing another and simply yank it out and put it in your in-basket. Or, of course, set time aside to clear some, as your file drawer starts to get too full. It's nice to have it no more than ¾ full, so it's easy to file away new items.

Electronic files

There are of course lots of ways to organise electronic files. Here's how I've done it as an example: The # and + are there to create a sort order. Checklists hold checklists (!) Under Personal I keep stuff like letters, creative writing, and other personal things. Under Projects are folders for all active projects that have electronic reference material. Reference is essentially and electronic A ­ Z system. Reference IT is a bit more categorised. Finance, Travel and Webs are special folders for things I reference often and that aren't projects or pure reference. Once a project is complete, I go through its folder and salvage anything I want to keep and move it to Reference. I have a similar structure for e-mails.

©2009 Christina Skaskiw

Set up a mobile office

Prerequisite: "Set up initial system" If you move around a lot in your life, you're likely to want to take pieces of your system with you. There are of course in addition to the parts of your system that you always bring, such as: · · · Lap top computer and accessories Mobile phone and accessories Capture tool(s)

Here are a few things you might want to acquire: · · · · · Folder to function as portable in-basket Similar folders for project and action support material, read and review, and stuff you're done with but want to bring home to file Pen-kit with pens, pencil, eraser, paper-clips, sticky notes, ... Pouch for cables and gadgetry Envelope for collecting receipts for travel expenses

These days you might even consider having the electronic parts of your system in the "cloud". All these functions are offered as web-based applications: · · · · · · Calendar To-do list E-mail Contacts File storage Capture tools (evernote, jott, ...)

Do this: 1. Design and acquire your mobile bits.

©2009 Christina Skaskiw

Inventory ­ physical

Prerequisite: "Set up initial system" This is another "sweep" exercise to help you get everything into your system, but instead of sweeping your mind you will walk around your office, house, garden or whatever area you'd like, to trigger projects and next actions. Do this: 1. Equip yourself with suitable capture tools, e.g. a note pad and pen, camera, dictafone. A tape measure and a bag might be useful ­ you decide. 2. Walk around the chosen area and write down all the things that need doing, or that you would like to do at some point. Take back with you burned out bulbs or other bits that need replacing or mending (unless they are too big, of course). 3. Dump your notes and bits into your in-basket for later processing.

©2009 Christina Skaskiw

Inventory ­ areas of focus

Prerequisite: "Set up initial system" Areas of focus can be thought of as responsibilities you have or roles you play. They are areas you need to keep your attention on in order to maintain or advance them. Common ones are: · · · · · Your job and possibly several different areas there Your health Your family Your finances Your hobbies

You get the picture. Do this: 1. Pick a quiet time and place. Brainstorm about the various roles you play, what you are responsible for, circles you move in, etc. Write them all down. 2. Group similar things and reduce your areas of focus down to 8 or 10 if possible. If you have daughter, sister, aunt and niece down, these could be combined to "family member". Some people arrange their areas of focus in a mind-map, which allows them to keep the details collected under the main areas. 3. Create a list of sorts of your areas of focus to keep for future reference. 4. For each main area, determine on a scale of 0 ­ 100% how accomplished you feel in that area, zero being totally unfulfilled and 100% on cruise control. Decide if there are low score areas that you are ready to start improving. 5. Match up your projects list against your areas of focus. Do you have appropriate projects in each area? Any low score areas, in particular, where you want to set some goals, indentify a desired outcome and create a project for yourself? Or at least some "someday/maybes?" You have now "swept" your areas of focus in order to find yet more stuff to do. You may want to revisit your areas of focus on a monthly or quarterly basis to see if there are things nagging you there. A resource in addition to David Allen's work is Stephen Covey's "First Things First." He talks about roles and takes it into quite some depth in order to create focus on what's important as well as creating a "life balance."

©2009 Christina Skaskiw

Getting back on the wagon

Prerequisite: you've set up and used your system for a while, but have now "fallen off the wagon" Every now and then life happens so fast we can't keep up, or for whatever reason, we find ourselves having fallen behind with stuff. In-basket is bursting with undefined content. We've made loads of commitments we never wrote down. And we're beginning to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. It's time to get sorted. Do this: 1. Set aside a good chunk of time to get yourself organised again, like an afternoon. Make yourself comfortable. 2. Do whatever sweeping you need ­ mind-sweep and/or physical inventory. 3. Take yourself through your weekly review, but expect it to take more time. a. Get clear by collecting and processing all your "ins". b. Get current by updating your systems. Cross off old items. Review calendar. Review projects. Get it all up-to-date. c. Get creative by reviewing your someday/maybes. You might even want to sweep your areas of focus. David Allen says that having the ability to get yourself back on the wagon is an indication that you've now "got GTD".

©2009 Christina Skaskiw


Microsoft Word - GTD Adoption Plan, v2

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Microsoft Word - GTD Adoption Plan, v2