Workflow – Taxiing; Getting Your Tasks Organised
The Taxi is the point at which we move off the Ramp and guide the task to a state that it is ready to taking-off. As with an aircraft, we have to navigate our way around the airfield, each turn another check in our process, so that on the word from the tower (your review), we can enter the runway and take off.
Our navigation takes the form of an outcome that is guided by a collection of reminders which allow you to focus on the different heights which shape your journey. It is convenient to have this lists or in some kind of document that allows you to easily access them in order to keep tasks on the right track. From top to bottom:
- Purpose: It is convenient to have a written version of your life purpose, or your business mission statement, so that you can go over it when significant changes occur and new challenges show up.
- Principles: A lists of principles you rely on, a personal or professional declaration, will help you reaffirm your values in those moments when you need inspiration.
- Vision: Your long term goals can also be a simple list or they can include a visual representation that supports that vision.
- Goals: A dozen of mid-term objectives can also be easily managed with a simple list.
- Areas of Responsibility: These are some aspects of your life and work in which you need to keep a high responsibility level. You only need a list for them.
- Projects: As we lower our horizon you are going to need a structure that can hold a bigger amount of information. Here we are talking about a project index that you have to bear in mind though; planning and details of each project belong to another organisational category, that I will explain further on.
Outcomes which other people have to do. You will also need another list with these reminders, so that you can keep track of those high-level tasks.
Actions are what you do in your day to day activities, the battlefield. Don’t think about the traditional to-do lists which only reflect latest and more urgent things. Having a complete vision of all the actions that shape your life is essential to implement GTD with success. In order to really be efficient, you need to have on hand all your possible actions. There are three subcategories for such actions:
- Calendar: It’s a basic tool that contains the actions or events which have to happen in a particular day or time. It’s very important, since this will be the first place you will pay attention every day. You will therefore, have to adjust the rest of your work in regard to these critical commitments. Do not use the Calendar to write down things you would “like to do” that day, or it will lose all its value.
- Actions you must do ASAP: You will write down here the vast majority of your actions—those that don’t need to get done at a specific date—and you will look at this list every time the Calendar allows you to. For this list you will need a system that allows you to subdivide it into contexts, so that you can only focus in what you can do right now based on your situation (calls, computer, house, office, errands, in any place, etc.)
- Actions you can delegate: A reminder list with anything you might be waiting for: delegated actions, an order that hasn’t arrived, lent objects, etc.
There are always actions, projects or ideas, that you would like to do in the future or, simply, save them somewhere so that you can decide later on if you are going to get involved in or not. There are two types of isolation:
- Elements you might want to review regularly: Things you would like to do, places you would like to visit, books, movies, courses, personal projects, etc. Logically, these elements have to be somewhere you check frequently. The Someday/Maybe list is perfect to remember these things—as long as you have the habit of including it in the Weekly Review, “Review Someday/Maybe”.
- Things to do, or consider, for a given date in the future: They are committed actions that you won’t need to have in your Calendar until the moment in which you have to get them started. For this you will need a system which shows, activates or reminds you about these actions at the right moment, such as a Tickler file, a special calendar or a scheduled emails service.
Even though these items are not being progressed, it does not mean that we keep them on the Ramp. Remember back in Part 2 I said that the Ramp must be thought of as a place that costs you. If we left the task on the Ramp it would be visible every day, every time we planned, every time we reviewed, eating away at our subconscious psyche. To overcome this cost we can place the task into a holding area called “Someday/Maybe”, within OmniFocus this can be a tag or project that is set to “on-Hold”. In this way we keep our airstrip tidy and provide an area that we can visit on a weekly basis to check that all is ok.
Probably, in order to carry out your projects, you need relevant information in different formats about the issues you are dealing with, so that you can make the right decisions when the moment comes: plans, strategies, technical information, administrative data, details, related articles, links to related material, etc.
You need a place to store all of this, which at the same time should allow you to somehow classify the information. The Support Material has to be together with the project actions, but not mixed. A physical folder would do, but due to the big volume of information that you could add here, digital tools such as iCloud, Evernote, Dropbox, etc. would allow you a better and handy access to the information.
Surely, every day a huge amount of information gets to you and some might be relevant to your work or lifestyle. Unlike project’s support material, this information doesn’t need to be revised so often. It simply has to be available when the moment of consulting comes.
At this point, a good classification system is important (please refer to Tiago Forte’s PARA Method), since this will end up being the category of your organisational system with the largest amount of data.
When something becomes unnecessary or irrelevant, it’s important to eliminate it from the system since although it does not occupy physical space, it does occupy space in your psyche. This section is more important than what it seems because we tend to accumulate things which end up deteriorating our organisation. If your organisational system has a big amount of obsolete things which no longer have a meaning, you will be more reluctant to use it.