What should you do?
With many choices you are given moment-to-moment, what should you do? There are five steps in the Mastering Workflow model of GTD®: Capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage. So which step is most important? How do you decide whether to collect stuff, process an inbox, organize your work, reflect on all of your choices, or just do something? The decision comes back to a key concept in the Getting Things Done® methodology:
What most has your attention?
Is any one of those five stages more critical than another? It depends. And, it will change moment to moment. You may have a lot of unprocessed emails piling up in your inbox, but there may be some action you should be taking that’s more important than getting IN to empty. At times, organizing more effectively or differently will take precedence. And certainly there are times when the priority is to step back and reflect on the total inventory of your work.
If you’re not sure which of these processes you should pursue in the moment, I’d recommend cleaning up your inboxes and reducing your backlog toward zero.
A few good reasons:
- It helps clean up residual stuff needing decisions so you can think more clearly.
- It ensures that all the options about what you could be doing are evident in front of you.
- It serves as preventive maintenance so that you can be ready for new stuff coming toward you that you can’t foresee.
- It’s usually rather fun and freeing to be playing a part of the game that you know you can win by cleaning up, making progress, and generating creative and productive ideas along the way.
So when in doubt, clean an inbox. Then see what you really feel like doing.
This essay appeared in David Allen’s Productive Living Newsletter. Subscribe for free here.