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Organizing - Phase I

Page history last edited by David Utts 15 years, 4 months ago

Phase I - Creating a Structure for Your Organization


The first step in organizing is to create a foundational structure you can organize into.  A way to think about this phase is that you are sorting your life and work into key areas.  As was mentioned under "Processing" - this first phase might actually be useful to think through prior to you processing your Inboxes and Mindsweep.


As you consider organizing (and processing) - you need to consider there are two big categories for Getting Things Done as follows:

  • Projects - Those items that take two or more steps to complete (e.g. client proposals, marketing plan, redesign master bedroom, plan our vacation, etc.)


  • Next Actions - Those items that are one step and you are done (e.g. call Becky, respond to Bob's e-mail, clear out my inbox, etc.)


This is a huge distinction because once you have created your air tight system this allows you to better prepare and also to be able to - in the moment - decide what is next to do.  Let's take a look at these two distinctions in more detail:


Next Actions and Contexts 

The key at this point is to consider that even if you have a big project to do - you can only take one action or do one task at a time.  David Allen calls any next logical action in a project - a "Next Action"


Further David highlighted that we take all actions within a context or particular place.  For example, there are some things you can only do at the office, while you are in front of your computer, when you are out and about, etc.  So David Allen developed the concept of "Contexts"  Again, it is useful to think about this prior to processing because if you have a fundamental set of contexts set up you can start organizing while you process.




Anything you have to do that takes more than one step needs to become a project. The goal for your projects is to create a simple project management list that shows the flow actions that need to happen on the project. Only the next actions are taken off the project plan to your to "Next Actions Lists" noted above.


Simple ways to manage projects:


Project Titles

Most of your projects will fall neatly into the category areas you likely developed during your Mind Sweep.  I use these categories to set up my projects so they are sorted for easy review on my projects list.  For example - many of my projects will start with a label followed by a dash (-):

  • Business Development -
  • Administrative -
  • Client Project -
  • Home -
  • Team Development -
  • Direct Report -
  • Agenda -


After the dash (-) I place the actual project name and in that folder, note or document I develop a simple project plan or project steps..  Again, why I like to move up part of organizing a step is because it allows me to set these areas up prior to processing so it makes it easier to do.


     Organizing Your Projects

  • Use Your Calendaring Program (e.g. Outlook, Lotus Notes, Daylite, etc.) along with your PDA (Blackberry, IPhone, Palm, etc.) I keep many of my project lists on my computer.  Unless you are into heavy duty project management - most project plans for work and home can be developed into a simple list of logically ocurring actions.  Only the action at the top of your list will be considered a "Next Action" and brought into your task lists.


  • Reference Folders - You can also use manila files to kee your project plans and materials in (do not use hanging folders because it makes it twice as hard!) Also, use a label machine to label the folders so your filing system is neat. If you use this system the folders and label machine should be by your desk,  Also, do not use more than 1/4 of a sofa file cabinet on one topic.





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