Your Brain is a Thinking tool, Not a Storage
The most important thing that we learned from “Getting Things Done,” by David Allen: GTD® is an acceptance of the fact that we can’t remember everything. While some people out there have an exceptional memory, they are more the exception than the rule. If you’re like me, your memory has its limits. As tasks grow in complexity, and our commitments are reaching the tipping point, keeping track of the connections between them becomes even more cumbersome. Eliminating the need to remember where everything is located will liberate even more of your precious “mental RAM,” enabling you to allocate more of your brainpower – and time – to working and thinking rather than retracing your steps.
With GTD® we passed the stage one of not remembering all of your outstanding commitments. Now it’s time to eliminate the need to remember all your file locations, emails and their pertinence to your respective tasks.
Thinking Clearly Requires a Trusted Collection Bucket
In Centask, you can have one true inbox, where all your commitments, actionable items and important reference materials (related to tasks) can coexist. We like to call the Centask inbox the Universal Inbox, as it can literally collect every item type. The Universal Inbox makes it as simple as possible to collect and store all your commitments and important items.
Because cleaning the inbox is a task on its own, it is naturally positioned in the main To-Do list (Next Actions) of Centask. When you finish cleaning up your inbox, you can re-schedule it for the next “clean-up”. Cleaning up your inbox works the best with the “Explore” pane that is positioned below the “To-Do” pane. You will find the appropriate Projects you want to include in your active database, and drag and drop them into their appropriate locations. Cleaning inbox becomes a very simple activity, as well as part of your planning routine, because you can turn any item into a Project by adding a new or dragging and dropping a sub-item under it. You can move files, links and emails to the new project for your convenience.
With Centask, it is easier than ever to convert single items into projects. Use the “Add Sub-Item” function to quickly convert any item in Centask into a project, to which you can attach files, links and emails for your convenience.
Projects are a key component of the GTD® system. David Allen defines a project as “a desired result that requires more than a single action step.” So we made creating projects as simple as possible. In Centask, any item can become a project. Be mindful when naming projects to name them based on outcomes, so you can stay more focused. Once the outcome of the project has been defined, you should move it to your “project list.”
You can place your project list at the top of the Explore pane. Centask’s flexible hierarchy allows you to build a 50,000 foot view, without losing sight of the details. It is that powerful. Use the Explore pane and Project list for the items that you plan to tackle first, keeping your view clean and devoid of distractions. The Project list is a master list of your big commitments, and you can star projects to make them always appear at the top.
The Explore pane is very flexible. It will change its view to reflect search results or the view you selected on the right sidebar. This is your planning area. Here you decide how tasks relate to each other, and where they naturally belong. You do this as you clean up your inbox.
The To-Do Pane can be Reserved for “Next Actions” and Scheduled Items
Think of the To-Do pane as your “next actions” list. It only reflects your active tasks that have a passed-due “To-Do date” scheduled for them. Every item that is not archived, will be a part of your Explore pane under “Everything.”. There is a very simple relationship between the “To-Do” and “Explore” panes. Once you decide that it is time to tackle any specific item, you assign its “To-Do Date” to now, and it will become a part of the “To-Do” pane.
Make sure you avoid putting vague tasks or even projects in your “Next Actions” list. This way you will avoid procrastination and paralysis of action. Think of your To-Do list as sacred, and avoid adding anything to it that could create clutter or cause r confusion. A clean To-Do list lends itself to action rather than procrastination.. It is a place where you have absolute clarity on what needs to get done today.
“Everything” will reflect your “active” commitments, ones that you haven’t tackled yet. Every time you complete an item, use the “complete” button to “archive” it, and put in your passive database. Your Passive database saves items for possible future reference. If you truly don’t need an item anymore, you can always delete it. Deleting unnecessary items cleans up your system. We recommend deleting items as you complete them or during your weekly and monthly review in order to avoid clutter in your system.
“Waiting For” Tag and Following up with Other People
Often times when we work with others and delegate, we need to double check whether they have finished their commitment or not. I have found that having a “Waiting for” Tag can be very powerful. The “Waiting For” tag can help you keep track of the critical items related to your project that are currently in the hands of someone else. These items can be scheduled, and once the tagged item is in your next-action list it will appear with items tagged by it as sub-items. These items can be a part of your project list, without compromising your original project structure. This way, the item remains in the project list, with a reminder that you are waiting for someone to return or complete it. .
Review items you’ve assigned the Waiting For tag every few days and remind people about their commitments, when they are late. If you need to follow up on an item sooner than that, you can add a specific follow up “To-Do date” for that particular item. If a tag is pending on the To-Do list,, then the item that is tagged and also active on the To-Do list will appear twice, once as part of the To-Do list and once as part of the tag. On top of that, the task will still appear as a natural part of the project list.
When you delegate, you can assign “To-To dates” on the tasks that require your follow-up. It is critical to have them appear in your Next Actions list, in time to complete them before they are due. This way you will have the time to remind the person that their deadline is near, and that they need to get you the deliverable back to you. So not only will the item be a part of the tag, it will also included in your “Next Actions” list at the appropriate time.
Someday / Maybe List and Your Ideas
Another important component of GTD® is having a Someday/Maybe list. So what goes on this list? Simply put, everything that doesn’t qualify for “Next Actions” or “Projects” lists. Within Centask, you can create a branch with things like:
- Trips I’d like to take
- Music I’d like to listen
When you couple this list with actionable links, it becomes very powerful, as it allows you to take immediate action, when you wish to do so. In order to quickly create immediately actionable links, read our URL Bookmarklet tutorial.
As with all GTD® lists, the Someday/Maybe list needs to be updated and reviewed regularly in order to make the most out of it.
Schedule Your Structured Weekly and Monthly Reviews
The review process in Centask is very simple and straightforward. Any item can belong to multiple tags, and will coexist as a part of the hierarchy. Weekly and monthly review tags can be scheduled in your “To-Do Pane”, and are a natural part of your “Next Actions.”. So when the time for review comes, it will be an item on your “Next Actions” list.
At that time, simply go through your Review tag items, and decide how to handle them. You won’t affect their natural place in the project structure. When you are finished with the review, simply reschedule the whole tag for the next week (or month), and you are all set. Review finished, and immediately ready for the next week! If by any case there is something new you need to review, you can drag and drop it into the tag.
Natural Planning Clarifies the Goals and Next Concrete Steps
Planning is very helpful, as it gives you an objective view of your upcoming commitments. You can easily determine if can you accomplish your commitments or not for that day. When you reduce the workload to a manageable amount, you reduce stress and increase performance.
Centask’s organic hierarchy always you to control the amount of workload that is coming your way.
It’s time to dive in deeper and start exploring the flexibility of Centask. Now that you are armed how you can use Centask in conjunction with the “Getting Things Done” methodology, you can start really Getting Things Done. Once your system is in place, you will immediately start enjoying the many benefits of having your tasks, emails and files in one place.
GTD® is a registered trademark of the David Allen Company.