We’re continuing our series on the best practices of GTD’s five phases of Mastering Workflow: Collect, Process, Organize, Review, and Do. Let’s look closer at the Process phase.
WHAT TO PROCESS:
Processing is the core fundamental thinking that defines the meaning of each item collected. Outcomes and next actions are determined for actionable items, and the non-actionable items are identified as trash, something potentially actionable in the future, or reference material. This decision process transforms unclear stuff into defined work.
Download a free version of the GTD Workflow Map illustrating Collect, Process, and Organize or view the classic version on page 32 of the Getting Things Done book.
KEY PROCESSING QUESTIONS:
1. What is it?
2. Is it actionable?
3. What’s the desired outcome? If multi-step, write it on your Projects/Outcomes list.
4. What’s the next (physical/visible) action? Write it on the appropriate Next Actions list.
PROCESSING SUCCESS FACTORS:
Give yourself enough processing time*. Most people need an hour to an hour and a half per day of total processing time to process new inputs. You can estimate how much time you need by factoring 30 seconds to process each input. For example, if you get 60 emails a day, you’ll need 1/2 hour of total time to process your email inbox to zero. By total time, we don’t necessarily mean in one block of uninterrupted time. It can also mean total time throughout the day.
Processing is not doing, it’s deciding. The only “doing” time recommended during processing are those items that will take less than 2 minutes to complete.
*processing is considered “defining work” time in GTD’s Threefold Nature of Work model described on page 50 of the Getting Things Done book.
Kelly Forrister is a senior coach & seminar presenter with the David Allen Company