GTD Best Practices: Doing (Part 5 of 5)

An easy way for me to explain the “Doing” phase of GTD is to simply say “trust your gut/butt/intuition/hunch/heart.” There is gold in that, and ultimately that’s what it will come down to. But how do you even get to the point of trusting whatever part of you makes a trusted decision? Here’s where the “ecosystem of GTD” starts to make more sense:

Capture everything that has your attention (Collect)

Make decisions about what it means and what you are going to do about it (Process)

Park those decisions in trusted places (Organize)

Step back to reflect on those choices from a clear, current, and creative place (Review)

So that you can make the best action choice (Do)

So how will that help narrow down a To Do list the length of your driveway? You’ll want to pull in the Criteria for Choosing model:

Context – What place, tool, or person will the action require? This is the first limitation for choosing–it has to be. If you’re not in the right place, don’t have the right tool, or access to the required person, you can’t take the action.

Time available – How much time do you have to take the action? If you have 20 minutes, consider actions that will take less than 20 minute choices.

Resources – What is your energy like to take the action? You’re probably doing this now more than you realize. Brain alert usually means you’ll make different choices than brain dead. Watch that. Honor that.

Priorities – What’s the most important one to choose based on your roles (20k), 1-2 year goals (30k), 3-5+ year strategy (40k) or purpose (50k+)?

How do I know what my priorities are? This is where the Horizons of Focus model comes in. Every level of that is valuable, but the Areas of Focus level in particular can be helpful for people in setting priorities. Know what your job really is and “no” will come a little easier.

Finally, I would look at how you’re spending your time Doing. This is where the Three-fold Nature of Work model comes in. No, this isn’t a fancy way to fold a shirt. It’s a way to look at how you spend your time:

Doing pre-defined work – Choosing from choices you’ve already made on your Calendar & Next Action lists

Doing work as it appears – New things that show up that you choose to work on (not always a bad thing by the way, even though it gets a bad rap as being the demise of productivity)

Defining work - Processing new inputs (swing back to Collect, Wash, Rinse, Repeat.)

Of those three, where do you spend more time than you think you should? And which one doesn’t get enough of your time? Would love to hear your thoughts on that in the comments.

I hope this has

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been a helpful series for you all!


Just joining this series? Read part one on Collect, part two on Process, or part three on Organize, or part four on Review. There’s also a fantastic “Road to Black Belt” webinar series I did with Coach Meg Edwards on these best practices that’s available on GTD Connect.

Kelly Forrister is a senior coach & seminar presenter with the David Allen Company