GTD for Homemakers: Getting Your Inboxes to Empty – Simply Convivial

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31 Days to GTD for Homemakers & Homeschoolers As we develop this 31 Days to GTD for Homemakers series, we will learn how to renegotiate what we are going to do on the fly, creating a reliable intuition about what is “right” at that moment, in the current circumstance. GTD is a blending the proactive uber-planner with reactive spontaneity: the perfect productivity approach for a mother.

Previous Post: Set Up Consistent Calendars & Lists

Processing: Emptying Your Inboxes

So this is the point at which we actually think through all that stuff we collected earlier. For this step, you will need a big garbage bag, possibly a shredder, plenty of paper and a pen, and a large mug of your caffeinated beverage of choice.

You are going to go through all the information and stuff you generated in your collection process, not only sorting it into appropriate categories, but actually eliminating much of it — either by doing it or trashing it.

Here are your categories into which to sort every single item on your list:

  • Trash
  • Delegate
  • Pending

In short, you are going to go through everything on your lists and in your piles and either discard it, do it, delegate it, or defer it.

In Getting Things Done, David Allen wants you to refrain from sifting through your lists as you process them, dealing with things you like first and postponing those things you’d rather not deal with. In order to achieve calm control, you must deal with those things you’d rather avoid.


So, with each and every object or item or idea, one at a time, going sequentially and methodically through it all, ask yourself

What is it? — a thing? an idea? a task? a project?

What does it mean for me? — something I need to do? Something I need to think about? Something I need to fix or put away?

Am I going to keep it or toss it? (Toss it if you aren’t going to actually do anything to it or with it or about it)

If I keep it, is this a commitment or reference material? (File it if it’s reference material)

If it’s a commitment, will it take less than 2 minutes to complete? (If it will, just do it! Right now!)

If it’s a longer commitment, add it to your “pending” pile or list.

If you have sheets full of random thoughts and notes, as I did on my first round of collecting, strike through list items that you “toss” and that you have completed because they are short and easy. If it is an item that you will need to put into place, circle or highlight it. Or, if messy lists bother you, transfer your notes and only transfer what needs to be placed into the system, perhaps with related notes together. This second option is the one I opted for, and it worked splendidly. And, after processing the first batch, a mere month later I generated yet another sheet full of notes and ideas to be processed.

Yes, Allen admonishes us to dedicate a several-hour chunk both to collecting and processing, but that is simply not in the cards for most of us homemakers, particularly while homeschooling a bevy of young ones. So just spend the time you can working through it. It is true that once you get started, momentum is generated and you really can plow through a lot.

Give it the time you can and plod through. It will be worth it!


Mystie’s book, Declutter Your Head will walk you through the process of clearing your head and organizing your home so you can take calm, intentional action. Also available on kindle.

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

Next: GTD for Homemakers: Tips for Processing Your Brain-Dump Lists

2 Responses

  1. Lindsay
    | Reply

    Thank you so much for doing this! I read (or rather skimmed) GTD years ago, and I’ve always meant to come back to it and never did. Then, last time I went looking for it, I bought the “summary” version of the book…and still didn’t read it. FINALLY, I decided to take my calendar, notebook, notepad, iPad, and lots of sharpened pencils on our trek across country to visit my family last week. I was able to take some of that down time while cousins are playing with lots of extra eyes and ears around to really read and brainstorm. I randomly decided to search specifically for using the concept with homemaking, and sure enough, you not only did some musings on it on another blog but were starting with this series! I love when God sends me clear messages and assurances;) Plus, it is especially affirming to find someone who “thinks like you do,” and seeing that you are heavily influenced by Charlotte Mason as well as being good online friends with Willa certainly is evidence of that! Thanks again. I have 2.5 kid free hours on Sunday afternoons that I’ve been able to devote to doing homemaking paperwork undistracted thanks to German lessons and a generous husband (he takes the younger two out and about while the older two go to class). It helped last year, but sometimes I wasn’t sure what to do! I’m looking forward to beginning this year with a clearer vision for how to use my time wisely and effectively.

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      2.5 kid-free hours a week is something to treasure and make good use of, for sure. I’m glad this series is helping. Feel free to ask any questions as we go along. I’ve started and fallen off the GTD mode three or four times in the last 7-8 years, but each time has benefitted my overall handling of situations, even when I wasn’t following my set-up. It gave me the strategies and tactics for getting control when I needed to, and that has been very helpful.

      Right now I’m going with the flow myself, as I’m 38 weeks pregnant, but I plan to refresh my own set-up in January if all goes well. :)

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