I first read Getting Things Done by David Allen in about May 2007 and since then I’ve been using most of the concepts in my work life and it has probably saved me hundreds of hours and reduced my stress incredibly.
But there is one thing that I didn’t quite get until last week, that looking back now seems pretty stupid. When an email comes into my inbox that is actionable, I would star it and then archive it (I use Gmail for all my email these days). I did do this for all action items, regardless of whether or not they could be done at any time. Last week I realised that about 15% of my next actions couldn’t actually be done until some date in the future. These items were polluting my next action list and I was unconsciously filling up mental ram even though there was nothing I could do about them.
It might be obvious to most, but it was a pretty big “aha!” moment for me when I finally got it. Now I simply schedule the item to appear on my next action list when they can be done (using Google Calendar and its email reminders) or do the item now and schedule it to be triggered when it needs to be (schedule a bill payment using internet banking).
I don’t know why I never clued onto that before; I guess it’s just a process of using it every day and then incrementally improving the system.