Juggling Sheep
Welcome to Juggling Sheep, Jay Perry's blog about time management and personal productivity for pastors. Learn to balance work, life, family, and personal spirituality.

Share your best practices, tips and tricks, processes, sermon planning ideas, and resources. Feel free to email me: jaylperry[at]gmail[dot]com.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

GTD Workflow - What to Do with What I Have

The secret to being organized and efficient (in anything we do) is to have an established workflow. Think about it: You probably shower the exact same way every morning. Don’t you? And then when you get out of the shower, you probably dry off in exactly the same way you dried off yesterday - face first, hair, wrap the towel around your back, etc. And because it’s so routine, you don’t even think about it.

The core of Getting Things Done is establishing a workflow. How do you deal with everything you need to do (or think about or plan)? Unfortunately, many of us are trying to make it up on the fly. Someone hands me a piece of paper. What do I do with it? - pocket, notebook, drawer, desk, backpack, file, trash? A church member wants me to send him that article about fasting. Do I think I’ll just remember to do it? Do I make a note to myself? What do I do with that note?

The Getting Things Done workflow will teach you how to deal with everything in your inbox. There are several GTD workflow charts that you can print out to help you learn to process and organize all of the stuff you’ve collected. I put one up on the wall right next to my desk before I even tried to tackle my overflowing inbox. I really like David Allen’s original workflow diagram. The D*I*Y Planner website also has a diagram that I like (especially because it includes some detail on the ubiquitous capture and a checklist for the weekly review).

Currently, I have a desktop wallpaper from anabubula.com on my laptop. Now, every time I open my computer, I see a lovely GTD reference flowchart. Here’s a sample:

Getting Things Done Workflow

Let’s just talk through the GTD workflow using this diagram, shall we?

Every idea, article, appointment request, piece of mail starts out in your inbox.

You pick it up. You ask, “What is this? Is it actionable?

If it’s not something you can or should act on right now, you have three options - 1) throw it away, 2) save it for future reference (file it), or 3) decide to maybe deal with it some other time (write it on your someday/maybe list or throw it in your tickler file). Literally 75% of my first ubiquitous capture was unactionable. I either threw it away or filed it. Hurray!

If it is actionable, ask yourself, “Can I do this in two minutes or less?“ If you can, do it now (p.s. phone calls usually take more than two minutes if you have to speak with a human being).

If it will take more than two minutes, ask yourself, “Is this a project or a task?“ A task means it will take only one physical action to complete it. A project means it will take two or more physical actions to complete it (look up the phone number and then call - two steps).

If it’s a task write it on your Next Action List.

If it’s a project, write it on your Project List. Then ask, “What’s the next action?“ Write that next action on your Next Action List.

Can you do that Next Action within two minutes? If you can, do it.

If you can’t do that Next Action in less than two minutes, ask, “Am I the best person to do this?“ If you’re not, figure out who is and delegate it. Write a reminder on your Waiting For List.

If you are the best person to do it, ask, “Does this *have* to be done at or by a certain time?“ If the answer is yes, write it on your calendar.

If the answer is no, just leave it on your Next Action List to do whenever you can.

And that’s the GTD Workflow. Now you know how to deal with absolutely everything life throws at you. The process will take a little getting used to on the front end, but after you do it for a while, it will be as natural as toweling off after your morning shower.


Jay Perry likes to say foreign words that he hears on NPR. Jalalabad! He writes Juggling Sheep, a blog about time management and personal productivity for pastors. Juggling Sheep receives several hits every week by people looking for actual information about how to actually care for actual sheep. Um, no.


Jonathan said...

Happy Jalalabad to you! Do you really get hits from sheep seekers?

Jay said...

I really do. I get google searches of people looking for "checklists on sheep health" and "processes for caring for sheep" and "flock management." Weerd.