Unlike many organisation methods, Getting Things Done works in a bottom-up way; that is, you start with the small tasks and work your way up to the big picture. This has the advantage that you can get to work right away and only have to worry about the long term once you have the day-to-day landscape under control. However you can’t put off the higher-level planning forever!
NB: If you haven’t read my other posts on GTD, don’t start here – the first post is GTD for beginners, part 1 (obviously)!
No doubt when you started listing projects, you came up with some that you haven’t currently got the time or money to pursue. Maybe it’s a story idea, or a holiday destination, or a long-term plan like buying a house or going back to college. Rather than leave these as “open loops” that nag at the back of your mind, GTD encourages you to create them in a category called “Someday/Maybe”. If you’re using GTD software, these blue-sky projects don’t get listed under Next Actions, so you aren’t distracted by them during your daily work, but neither do you have to worry about forgetting them.
Still, they can’t be ignored forever, otherwise you’ll never get to do that cool stuff. That’s where your regular Review comes in.
It’s a good idea to set aside some time every week to go through all your projects, to ensure that each one is on track and you haven’t overlooked anything.
Whilst you don’t want to review your Someday/Maybe category every week, it’s a good idea to look it over once in a while and see if there are any projects you can move off the backburner yet. I would do this no more than once a month, but probably no less frequently than once every three months.
GTD can be as simple or as complex as you like, but either way it really does help you keep a handle on your responsibilities so that you can Get Things Done!
If you want to get into the process in more depth than described in this short series of articles, I strongly recommend reading the original book, Getting Things Done by David Allen. You might also be interested in the 43 Folders website, named after the paper-based version of managing recurring tasks (31 folders for the days of the month + 12 for the months of the year).