I’m a big fan of David Allen’s GTD setup and if you’re not familiar I suggest reading his book on the topic. The basic idea and the central idea is your brain is a terrible system for remembering what you need to get done. Any system that tracks these tasks, ideas, emails, etc is much better than a mental system.
So I am going to go over just the model for how I do this and what systems I use to make this as easy as possible. I use primarily Apple hardware so expect that to be central to this system. I also uses systems from independent developers if they fit my needs.
First up is what is known as you’re inbox. This is where you capture everything that pops into your head the instant it happens. I do this in several ways. The first is a paper notebook. I find just once or twice a day just sitting with a nice pen and a field notes notebook I can jot down a handful or more of ideas that I’ll need to think about later, but it seems to help get ideas going.
The second is Drafts, which I have on my work Mac, my iPhone and my iPad. I just open the app which defaults to a blank note and write my ideas one after another. Once I complete it I just close the note for the moment. Later I have an “action” that can forward each line as a task to my inbox of my task manager. An action is a quick function that Drafts does with just a simple tap. In this case to Things 3 and deletes the note although you can have Drafts save, archive or do noting to the original note as well.
I also have Things setup to collect all tasks entered into my Reminders list on iOS so when I have a quick thought I just tell Siri to remind me about it and boom it’s in Things. I also do the same thing for any email that needs some followup, I just hit forward and send to my Things email and now it’s there.
Thats’s a lot of ideas, but the central system is get the idea out of my head ASAP and move it along to Things 3 inbox from whatever system it’s in. Once it’s all collected it’s time to figure out what to do with it. Every morning and maybe once more on the train home each day I review the inbox. This shouldn’t take long and is just categorize and set deadlines as needed.
Some items once seen a second time either don’t hold up or don’t really need an action. I just mark them done and move on. Others that can be done quickly (5 minutes or less) should be done then if possible. Lastly anything else gets a deadline and gets filed where it belongs.
I use deadlines for anything that’s not a recurring tasks. This way it’s listed in someday and anytime until the deadline when it’s in the Today. This way when I review these lists I can do it early if I have time to. Using Anytime as a way to find tasks that aren’t due today but can be done when available is a big benefit of using Things 3.
So Things 3 is where I review everything I need to do each day. Each morning I look at each recurring task I’ve entered and make sure I will be able to do that and then look for anytime tasks for work and home that can be fit in as well. My work is fairly familiar, but with the studies I run taking many days to complete I have to remember specific tasks on each days, so this is all deadlines and ready to go on the day it’s needed.
The purpose of these systems is to know all the ways you might be able to record your ideas, but also how to get them quickly into the SAME inbox for all of them. I use many tools to get the ideas and tasks out of my head as quickly as I can, but they all flow into the Things 3 inbox. That way I know where to go everyday and how to find everything I need to work on.
Everyone will have a different system, but the central idea is the same. Get your thoughts down and then organize them where you need to so you can get back to them later.