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GTD- Step 2- Process

When you are finished processing "in" you will have

  1. Trashed what you don’t need

  2. Completed any 2- minutes or less actions

  3. Handed off to others anything that can be delegated

  4. Sorted into your own organizing system reminders for action anything that requires more than 2-minutes

  5. Identified any larger commitments- projects- you have now




Processing guidelines- Basic rules

  1. Process the top item first

  2. Process one item at a time

  3. Never put anything back "IN"

Processing does not mean spend time on - it just means decide what that thing is and what action is required.

Your 'IN" basket is a processing station, not a storage bin.

The Key Processing Question is: "What's the next action?"

You are going to deal with one item at a time and you are going to make a firm next-action decision about each one.

The next action could be - call someone, fill out a form, talk to your partner, end an email to some one

If there's and action, its specific nature will determine the next set of options

What if no action is required?

It s likely that a portion of your in basket will require no action. There will be three types of things in this category:

  1. Trash

  2. Items to incubate

  3. Reference material

Trash- When in doubt throw it out; when in doubt, keep it- Take your pick

Incubate- There is nothing to do on this now but there might be later-

  • Write them down on a "someday/maybe" list

  • Put them on your calendar

The point of this incubate process is that they give you a way to get this off your mind right now and let you know that a reminder of the possible action will resurface at an appropriate time

Reference Many of the things you will discover in your 'In" will need no action but have value as a potentially useful information about projects and topics- file it.

A less-than- sixty seconds, fun-to-use general-reference filing system within your arm's reach of where you sit is a mission critical component of full implementation of this methodology

And if there is Action…What is it?

Lets look at a sample list

  • Clean the garage

  • Do my taxes

  • Conference I am going to

  • Sunil's Birthday

  • Next webinar

  • Shift to Salesforce CRM

  • Shift to Microsoft from Google suite

Although each of these items may seem relatively clear as a task or a project, determining the next action on each will take some thought.

The action step needs to be the absolute next physical thing to do

"setting a meeting does not define the next action because its not descriptive of physical behavior"- When you decided the next physical action- you finish the thinking exercise about this item.

When you get to your phone or the computer, you want to have all your thinking completed so you can use the tools you have to easily get it done- having already defined what need to be done.

Once you decide what the action step is- You have three options once you decide what the next action really is.

  • Do it- if the action takes two-minutes or less

  • Delegate it- As yourself- Am I the right person to it?

  • Defer it- into your organization system as an option for work to do later

Do it- you will be surprised how long 2-minutes. The rationale for the 2-minute rule is that if it takes less than two-minutes you probably would be spending more time storing and tracking it so might as well deal with the first time it’s in your hands if you are ever going to do it at all.- Efficiency.

Many people find that getting into the 2-minute rule habit has a dramatic improvement in their productivity.

Delegate it - Am I the best person to do it? Delegation is not always downstream. Follow a "systematic format"

After sending the handoff- to track if it is done, add an item in the "Waiting For" category

What if the ball is already in their court- Add a tracker in the 'W/F list"

Defer it- Its likely that most of the next actions left in your list will be yours to do and will take longer than two minutes to complete- A call you need to make to the customer. An email you need a little time thinking before drafting. A conversation you need to have with your partner.

The Pending things that are left.

By the time you get through all this, you'll have dumped a lot of mess in the trash, files a bunch, do a lot of two-minute actions, handed off a number of items to other people.

You'll also wind up with a stack of items that have actions associated with them that you still need to do- soon, someday, or on a specific date- and reminders of things you are waiting on from other people. This pending group is made up of actions you've delegated or deferred. This still needs to be organized in some fashion in your personal organizing system. We will get to it in the next video.

Identifying the Projects you have- I define a "project" as any outcome you're committed to achieving that will take more than one action step to complete. I f the action step you have defined is not will not complete the commitment, then you will need some stake in the ground to keep reminding you of actions you have pending until you have closure.


Once you have collected all your open loops, and processed each one of them in terms of what they mean to you and what action are required and organised the results in a complete system that holds a current and complete overview of you commitments, then you are ready for the next phase of implementation.

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