image by German Chocolate Ladies
The Getting Things Done methodology uses processing stage to deal with all the inputs of your life. The main premise is to ask question “What’s the next action?”. There is no doing involved in there. It’s simply making decision about the things that enter your life. Processing stage may appear as a waste of time, one might say “I could get so much done instead of processing all that stuff”. In fact this is a highly beneficial as it allows to sort out things that need to be done. You can concentrate on those things rather than going through unclear and ambiguous ideas to find something to do.
What’s your processing power?
The number of inputs coming towards us is increasing. Paradoxically we invite more and more information to enter our space by joining social networks, getting always connected smartphones signing up to newsletters. With dozens or even hundreds of inputs it’s very difficult to keep on top of things. When that happens it’s very easy to let the inbox keep overflowing as it’s may be too overwhelming to go through all those items.
If you’re struggling with keeping on top of things you could try one of the two. Take a drastic measure and cut out of your life as much as possible and leave just bare essentials or you could try to improve your processing power by making quicker and more consistent decisions.
How can you improve your processing power?
Look at stuff once
Look at the stuff only once and don’t let it go it until you make a decision about it. Have you seen any mine disposal team at work? Once they come across a mine they need to make a decision about it either flag it, digit up and disarm. Leaving stuff for later is simply not an option. It shouldn’t be an option for you either.
Every time you pick up a thing and not make a decision about it you add to your pile of stuff to be processed. You will look at that email or note again and again.
Do the math if you look at things at least twice that means 3 items in your inbox are now equal to 6 before you do them.
Pass it on to the right bucket.
First of all don’t leave it your inbox see above. Once you’ve picked an item put it into the right basket and move on.
I some cases it might be difficult to make that decision. Does it go to Next Actions folder, Someday or Projects?
If you’re in such place simply put it into someday or tickler file. This way you will be able to revisit the idea or during weekly review. Another handy thing to do is to create a separate Google calendar to act as a tickler file. You will keep track of those things and not clog the main calendar.
Often time the number of inputs simply exceed our capacity regardless of how fast we process. Sometimes you could spend whole day processing things and you never get anything important done. So be ruthless if something doesn’t click delete/trash it and move to the next item. Don’t spend ages agonising whether you will do or what’s the right place for the thing.
The way I see it is that if the idea is really important it will come back to you in some way. Also if you are not ready to do anything with it it doesn’t matter when it shows up if you can’t do it you don’t need to keep it. Idea will pop back in perhaps during your weekly review or maybe you will read something that will cause it to reappear. What ever the method it will get to you some how.
Processing helps you sift through the inputs that come your way. Instead of looking at inbox full of emails that can be everything and anything you can go to action folder a do some actual work. Sometimes it can be a daunting task but if you stick look at things once and put them into right places than it may not be as bad as it looks. On the other hand processing can be fun you get to organise stuff into folders, sections, lists but remember once you’ve done your processing it’s time to look into actions bucket and start knocking some actions off.