This 31 Days to GTD for Homemakers series focuses on reducing stress and creating solutions to manage life at home. Mothers are the makers of home atmosphere and culture; keeping the mundane details under control allows us to direct our attention to what truly matters.
Previous Post: Organize!
Organize Tasks & Projects
So, you have lists of projects and you have sorted out how you are going to keep your task lists. Now the trick is getting project-related tasks onto your to-do list, or “next actions” list. It is not efficient or trust-building to have a to-do list tucked away with every project. You want to have one or two places with your next actions, preferably split up by context or energy requirement (even if that only means columns or rows drawn on one sheet of paper).
So, go through each of your projects, and identify and write down the following information:
- What will count as “finished” for this project? What is the outcome I am working toward. This goes somewhere prominent on your project’s page.
- What things need to happen to get to “done”?Start a brainstorming list of necessary tasks on the project’s page. Add to it as you think of more things, whenever you do think of more things.
- What is the very next thing to do to move this project forward? It might be one or two or three, but what concrete, specific task has to happen next before any other progress can be made? This is the next action for this project. This needs to go on your next actions list, which is your daily work-off-of list. Depending on how you split up your next actions based on contexts or energies, put the task in the appropriate category.
Develop the routine of going over your projects and moving next-action tasks onto your daily radar, and you will dramatically reduce stress and mental drain.
Organize Reference Materials
Your reference materials are your personal libraries (books, magazines, catalogs, flyers, CDs, DVDs, recipes) and archives (past calendars, used lists, school records); information that is useful to you but doesn’t involve or generate tasks.
How you set these things up, how much you keep, what you keep, where you keep it, is all a personal logistical issue that you’ll have to figure out for yourself and your own context.
Simply ensure that as you’re setting up your filing system for reference materials — shelves, filing cabinet or box, binders, magazine holders, whatever — you only file reference material and not actionable items. Anything that requires action needs to be in with your projects or next actions list or trigger system.
However you set up your reference materials, your goal is to make it an under-two-minute task to file incoming stuff.
That means that when something comes in that belongs with your reference material, you just put it away, you don’t put “file stuff” as an action item on your to-do list. The goal is to not let a nebulous stack of papers, magazines, or whatever accrue.
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