Step 2: Establish processes to better address what you need to do

This step consists of taking everything you did put in your input box and defining what needs to be done first. The processing of your work and the mastery of this step of GTD will allow you to prioritize tasks and empty your input box (including your inbox) without having to perform unnecessary work.

How is that possible?

It’s a simple but important step. Start by answering the question, "What is the thing you have to deal with?" It may be an HR email, but what is it? Is it a meaningless update on employee contracts, or is it a boring reminder about health and safety?

Identifying how important is a task allows you to effectively answer the following question.

Can it be operated?

Yes: Is this a simple project or action? If an item is actionable, you must first identify the “project” it is part of and the “next action” required to move that item towards the end.

No: Often, the contents of your input box do not require any additional action. In this case, you can do one of three things:

  • Delete it (trash can: no future potential),
  • Incubate it (one day/maybe: possible actions in the future),
  • Archive it (reference: update appointment, deadlines in your calendar).

What’s the next move?

Whatever you have to do, always ask yourself what the first action is to facilitate its organization.

For example, you may have a completion goal to write a blog post, but the next action may be to simply write about a topic.

Once you have identified the next action, you can answer the following question:

Will it take less than two minutes?

  • Do it: If the answer to this question is yes, do it immediately.
  • Delegate: If the answer is no, ask yourself, "Am I the right person to do this?" or “Can someone do this for me?” Depending on the answer, you can delegate the task.
  • Defer it: If you need to do the work yourself and it takes more than two minutes, you can defer it for later.

Step #3: Organize Your Work

Once you have processed your work using the aforementioned system, it is time to get organized. When it comes to unnecessary items, you can organize these items in one of the following areas:

One day/Maybe

These are the things you might want to go back to on a date, and that is not tied to a particular time frame.

Additionally, list all projects that are not urgent or that deserve to be reconsidered in the future (taking singing lessons, learning to code, traveling).

This could be a business idea, a skill you would like to learn, or a recipe you would like to try. Put them on a “One Day” list that you will review regularly.

Reference

These are the useful things that require no action but may prove useful later. This could be a supporting document for a job, and information spreadsheet, or a useful checklist.

When you add something to your list of references, give it some context and keep it organized.

Trash can

Finally, if there is no point in keeping a reference item and you do not want to come back to it later, get rid of it. You no longer need clutter in your life.