The Best Kind of To Do List

After reading David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done”, I don’t think I will go back to the traditional “Daily” To Do List.   It has made organizing my projects, single action items a lot easier to keep track of and complete.

To get started with David Allen’s Method all you will need is a pen and paper. There are a lot of GTD software out there but they are not necessary to be effective with this method.

Ok, once you have the tools you will need, the first step in creating this awesome to do list is to perform a “brain dump”.  All a “brain dump” involves is you sitting down and writing out everything on your mind., whether that be an upcoming doctor’s appointment, laundry, calling your parents, etc. Whatever it may be, write it down, get it out of your head. This process is similar to brainstorming before writing; the list should look very unorganized.

After you have completed the brain dumb your next step is to begin organizing it.  Place all your appointments in your calendar, if an item on your brain dump list involves physical material, get all those things together. If an item on your list is a big project, think about breaking it down into smaller “actionable items”.

If you realize there are things on your list that you would like to do but realistically cannot get to them until 3 months to a year from now, put them on another list entitled “someday”.

When you finish with your sorting, your list should now only contain “currently actionable” items. This list will serve as your “everything” list. Each time you come across a new task that needs to get done or any “actionable” thought, immediately write it down on this list. Writing it down as soon as you can will prevent your brain from forgetting it and reminding you when it is too late.

At this point, you have a to do list that contains everything that needs to get done. None of the items on your list are in any particular order, so how do you go about getting those items done?  At the start of each day you want to look at your “Everything” list and pick 3-5 items that you will work on. This is your “immediate action” list.  I suggest picking things from your list that have an upcoming deadline, are overdue, or need to be completely within the week.  Write those items down on a separate sheet of paper with todays date.  If you want to organize the order in which you want to complete those items, use numbers to do so.  The point is to pick something you want to start with and work on that task until its complete.

Once you finish a task, cross it off of your list. Anything that did not get completed  should be moved to the next day’s “immediate action” list.  At the end of each day, you should refer back to your “everything” list and decide if anything needs to be moved to your “immediate action” list.

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