Last week we discussed some of the benefits of implementing GTD. Next week we will start the process of actually implementing your system. First however, you need to get some things organised.

The first step will be to Collect everything that needs to go into your system. You will create Inboxes as part of your system. The desired end result is that you have as few of these ‘collection’ areas as possible, however at this stage, it is wise to just identify all of the areas that you will work on to implement GTD. It is fine to start off with one area, and go through all of the stages. So at this stage, just list all the areas you want to work on. As an example, here was my list.

  • Office Desk and drawers
  • Office Filing Cabinet
  • Drawers at home
  • Shelf near front door (where mail tends to gather)
  • Hall cupboard
  • Garage

In addition to these areas, I had virtual areas which included Outlook (for e-mail), Appigo Todo (for tasks) and Evernote (for a myriad of things to be covered later).

My advice to you, unless you are already a particularly organised person, is to start with somewhere pretty much self contained. Your office space (desk, drawers and cupboards) for example makes an ideal starting point. However, it could just as easily be your den at home, or the place in your house all of the ‘things that I must remember to do something about’ get dumped. The main thing is that it is a place that is self contained, and you consider it to be in need of some controls.

The other thing you will need is somewhere to put things you are keeping, and things you are throwing away. For the latter, get some black bin bags, don’t underestimate how much space you will need. For the stuff you are going to keep, I recommend plastic in-trays, or folders. The most important thing is that you will have somewhere that this stuff will go, and can safely stay until you process it, in the next stage. It is entirely possible you have a large space (office or dining table for example), that you know you can put things on, and they will not be disturbed. Regardless, have it figured out before you start the first stage. The most important part of any of the stages is the should be quick and easy. You make a decision and the paper gets put where it needs to be.

Since, for at least this first stage, you will be using paper, the other thing to make sure you have, is blank paper and pen/pencil. For reasons that will be obvious when you start the process, I recommend sheets of paper, rather than a pad. It doesn’t have to be high quality, but I do recommend that it’s normal sized paper. Resist the temptation to use post-its.

If you already know that you plan to have your system be paperless, or that you plan to scan things, I would recommend that you stick to bits of paper at this stage. You will have a lot more in this stage than you will end up with, and it is significantly easier to implement a paperless system, when you have ironed out the kinks to begin with.

So at this stage you are preparing to get started with implementing your GTD system. What you should have is:

  • A list of all of the ‘areas’ you need to collect from
  • A physical place to start the process
  • Trays, folders, boxes that you can use
  • Bin bags for what’s getting thrown out
  • Paper
  • Pens/Pencils

In the next post I will talk through the actual collection process that you need to follow in this first pass. From there, each post will go through the whole implementation process, working towards you having a fully implemented, robust, productivity system for Getting Things Done.

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