In Getting Things Done, a returning thing in the book is the workflow diagram. We’re now halfway through the GTD week, so this is probably a good moment to take another look at the processing workflow.

On Monday, I talked about getting to actionable, but I wanted to dive into this topic a little more. Let’s start from the top.

You always start with a pile of “stuff”. This can be your email inbox, a physical in-basket or a list of unprocessed things you’ve been jotting down in your todo application.

The basic workflow for anything that needs processing is like this:

  1. Is it actionable? If yes, continue. If not, either discard the item, put it on your someday/maybe list, or save it somewhere as a reference item.
  2. Will it take less than 2 minutes? If yes, do it right away. It will take longer than 2 minutes to properly rephrase and schedule it for another time anyway. If not, either delegate it to someone else, or defer it. For deferring, there are two possible places: you can add it to your “next actions” list (this contains all the tasks that you can pick up whenever you have time available) or you can put it on your calendar (when you need it to be done on a certain moment in time).

This sounds complex, but this can all be done and decided in a couple of minutes. Key elements:

  • Make sure you take time to transform pieces of data into actionable tasks, like discussed before.
  • If something takes less than 2 minutes, do it right away.
  • For every bigger task, either schedule it on your calendar or add it to your running “next actions” list inside your favorite todo application.