GTD Jargon Buster


Getting started with implementing GTD may be a complex thing. There are many phrases and terms to understand and to wrap your head around.

I’ve collected a list of most important GTD terms and included a little description. Hope you will find it useful in your GTD journey.

4 criteria model of work – in order to decide what to do next, GTD proposes a four criteria which should assist in making the most appropriate decision. These include following elements: context- your location, time – available/required to complete the action, energy – required/available to complete the item, priority – importance of the item.

5 stages of workflow – this is a core of the GTD system. To deal with any work, ideas, projects which you have to do Allen proposes a series of steps which will help you get more organized. There are five stages of this process starting with, collecting, processing, followed by organising, review and finished with doing. Each step is a discrete element which assist in maintaining better focus and clarity.

Areas of focus – include some key personal and professional areas for which are responsible for on on-going basis. These areas form a core of your duties. This is designed as reminder to make sure that you’ve captured necessary actions and projects so you can stay on top of your responsibilities.

Context – generally refers to a place where the action can be completed. This could include actual locations like: at shop, at library, at office or an area like at desk, at online, at couch. The number of contexts will vary from person to person and generally should strike a balance between granularity and ease of reference.

Mental RAM – it’s the short term memory of your brain. Your brain has a limited capacity to store information in that space. The more incomplete items you keep in your RAM the more difficult it’s to maintain focus and concentration.

Mind sweep – is a simple exercise which allows you to clear your head. Anytime you can’t focus and you seem to be bombarded with countless of things take piece of paper and jot down all the things you want to deal with.

Natural planning model – designed to help bring more control and clarity into projects. It’s based on the a five stage process which aims at clarifying the purpose and principles, visioning how would the wild success look like, jotting all ideas about the project through brainstorming, organizing those ideas into sequences and slots and finally identifying next actions.

Next action – is a next physical activity that can be completed as part of a project or a stand alone task.  The key element is that it starts with a verb like read, write, call etc.

Project – is any endeavour that takes more than one step to complete. Category of projects can encapsulate things from buying new printer to creating a new division in a company. The main premise for such wide interpretation of project is that this way you will track any item that needs to be finished.

Project support materials – a category of documents which have been collected as part of a project. This can incorporate things like project notes, system documentation, drawings, results of brainstorming sessions, budget calculations, presentations, correspondence, magazines etc.

Ubiquitous capture – an ability to capture ideas, information, thoughts in any place you’re. The aim is to limit the time between the occurrence of the idea and writing it down so that one can continue with the task at hand and keep the head clear.

Someday/maybe – this list is parking lot for any ideas, projects, actions that are not active but you don’t want to loose a track of those. There will be things you’re not sure about or things you would like to do at some later date. Perhaps you have some ideas for gifts for next Christmas. Someday/Maybe list is for all those items.

Trigger list – a list which should assist you in completing a thorough mind sweep. It includes reminders of different areas of your life that you may need to look. Rather than posing specific questions it’s simply a list of phases and words that could spark a thought about something you should look at. It most useful when you’re head is full of chaos and it’s difficult to find a starting point and start clearing it.

Tickler file – it’s a set of 43 folders where you store items which you need to look at or retrieve at some point in the future. It’s a place for all the items you don’t need know but will require later. 12 folders represent each month and 31 folders refer to each day in the current month. The usual content of ticker file includes tickets for upcoming events, bills to pay, leaflets etc.

Weekly review – one of the crucial elements of successful GTD system. Weekly review aims at re-evaluating your situation, it’s a time designed to make sure your system is current and up to date. Weekly review focuses on empting your head, checking your priorities for next week, looking at projects and actions, considering some of the someday items. 

Waiting for – a list designed to track all the items where you’re expecting something to be done by someone else. It can be a letter from insurance company, a response to an email you’ve sent, an item to be returned by a friend.

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