Book Club Jan Week 2: Getting Things Done

by Diane Wolf in Blog, Book Club
January 10, 2017 0 comments


I hope you’ve been enjoying working on decluttering your email inbox over the last week. I promise today’s email will NOT be as long as last week. There was a lot to cover in the first email.

Today’s email will look at what David Allen calls the “5 Steps to Mastering Workflow”

Now that you have the workflow from last week’s email, we will look at the steps to implement it. This is taken from Chapter Two in the book if you are reading along.

Step 1: Capture

Allen believes that a big source of clutter in our minds is that tendency to try to remember too many things. He suggests we capture everything that demands our attention by putting it somewhere other than keeping it in our brains. That’s a simplification, but you get the idea. You know that feeling of stress when you go into the grocery store trying to remember 5 or 6 things? And, if you are like me, you forget one of the staples anyway… Compare that to taking a list with you, where you don’t have to rely on your memory, because everything is captured on a shopping list. Exactly. Relief. No stress… just follow the list.

Step 2: Clarify

This step involves deciding what each item means and what to do about it. Now, on a shopping list, that’s easy. You buy each thing on the list and check out. But there are lots of things taking up mental space that require decisions to be made. He uses the example of cleaning up an area of the home. It’s not just cleaning up that is tough, it’s deciding what goes where, what to keep etc. It’s the decision process that makes things difficult for many of us. That’s where my major problem lies. I have a sentimental attachment to too much junk, and a tendency to want to keep things for my kids and grandkids, even though my kids are not hoarders, and have clearly stated I can get rid of stuff. It’s still tough. I’m working on that. You may need help with this stage, or like me, do it when you are in a really bad mood and can be ruthless.

For business decisions, it may not involve getting rid of stuff as much as deciding what’s the NEXT step you need to take. If the whole project is overwhelming, just decide on the ONE action you can take next to move this project along. See last week’s workflow.

Step 3: Organize

This is where you can batch similar tasks, put things where they belong, either digitally or physically, and make a plan of action. It’s a lot easier to do when Steps 1 and 2 are already done! Too often we try to organize as the first step. Nope… it’s the third!

Step 4: Reflect

Take some time to think about what you are doing… the big picture. Are the tasks you are focusing on leading you to your main goals? Watch out for busywork. I’m the queen of cleaning my house when I have deadlines… it’s my main procrastination. Yes, cleaning is GOOD… but is it the most important thing I should be doing at that moment? That would depend on where I’m going. As Stephen Covey once said, if you are climbing the ladder of success, make sure the ladder is leaning against the right wall!

Step 5: Engage

Get involved with the process. Just do it. Know that you’ve chosen the right things to do, no more second-guessing, just get to work. Don’t let those distracting thoughts of “I really should be doing something else” get to you. Start with the action step you picked, and then just keep going. You can DO IT!

David Allen says that mosts people fail with these steps because they are trying to do more than one at a time, and they get all jumbled up. They make a list at the same time they are trying to figure out priorities. Capture ALL the things roaming around in your brain taking up mental space FIRST. Once they are all on paper (or in your digital system), THEN you can begin to clarify and organize. This has been an incredibly helpful thing for me to start doing, as I tend to juggle way too many things. Don’t be a Diane!

Don’t forget to post questions on our Facebook page, or share what you’ve been learning as you implement these strategies!

Until next week,


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