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Be More Focused and Creative at Work (Part 2)

Simple Getting Things Done Method

Everything Goes Into an Inbox (and out of your head): Identify your inboxes. These are the places where incoming tasks go first.

  • You have your email, which is an inbox.

  • Then you have a physical inbox, which is for your mail, post-it notes, or that Amazon package you need to return.

  • The other very important inbox I use is voice notes on my phone for capturing ideas while I’m driving or otherwise in a place where I don’t want to write something down.

  • I use Hi-Q MP3 Rec (Android) and then create a widget on my home screen for one-button recording. This is also synced to my Dropbox for easy access during my morning routine (as described below).

Make sure that in any situation you can add an item or thought to one of your inboxes, which gets that item out of your head.

The System

You first create some lists inside your email program and to-do program as described below.

The Lists:

  • Next Action—the most important tasks. They usually need to be done the same day. (Example, you need to get your suit to the cleaners so that it is done by Friday)

  • Action—second priority tasks. They are important but not as important or as timely as the “next action” tasks. (Example: return the cell phone holder to Amazon)

  • Waiting On—this is where tasks that you’ve delegated or tasks that you are waiting for someone else to do their part before you can proceed are located. (Example: you’ve delegated a research project to your dedicated Vira Agent)

  • Tickler—this is where you put projects that you would like to work on someday but are not a priority now.

  • Calendar—this is where you schedule things that absolutely have to be done on a certain day or time of day. Appointments go here but tasks as well. Pro tip: If you are scheduling a task that came from an email, copy the subject line of the email into the calendar appointment for easy reference. Calendar appointments take priority over any other list in the GTD system. If a task goes from either your email or another virtual inbox and into the calendar, you can take it out of that virtual list because it will definitely be done if it is on the calendar.

How To Make Lists in Your Email

It is very important to have your email set up with different lists to match the ones I’ve described above. In Outlook, it is pretty easy. Just make folders.

For Gmail, I suppose you can use the labels feature, but I use those for other things, and I’d rather see all my lists on the screen at the same time. For this purpose, I set up the “multiple inboxes” labs feature within Gmail. Here’s how to do that:

  • In Gmail, go to your settings and then the labs tab. From there enable “multiple inboxes.”

  • You can now have a new option inside your setting for “multiple inboxes.”

  • From here, you can manage which lists appear on your main Gmail screen.

  • Which should look like this:

  • When you are ready to go through your emails, you can easily label them as described above. Pro tip: The quickest way to label an email is to select it, and then type “l” as in llama + “next,” and it should automatically fill in the rest of the label “next action,” and then you just hit “enter.” When you have a lot of emails, this will dramatically cut down on your total time.