Brain dump – part two

Now that you’re on your way to having your brain dumped into your new bucket (see Brain dump – part one), let’s start “getting things done.” How do you filter everything in your bucket into actionable bites? Two concepts. Contexts and Next Actions.These are the reason David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” made such a splash. Many people like Allen’s entire system, but it is a bit much for me. There is such a thing as over-planning. But I have experienced the peace of having a clear mind because all of my “open loops” were addressed. That is the big payoff here. The reason I use ZenDone is because it streamlines GTD down to bare bones – the most useful parts.

First, ask yourself “how long is completing this action going to take?” If it is only a few minutes, are there any reasons not to complete it right then? If not, do it. You’ll build a list of actions that need completing, and you should partition them into contexts.

  • @home
  • @work
  • @computer
  • @phone
  • @errands

Stick to as few categories as possible, where most of your “things” get done. That way, when you’re sitting in front of your computer or accessing the app on your mobile device, you can apply the filter so that it only shows the correct @context, and you’ll know exactly the things you need to work on. Work on them as time and energy allow.

The “Next Action” concept applies to actions that you assign “project” status. That is because everything that has more than two or three related steps is a project. ZenDone allows you to create a project and populate it with actions. “Next actions” are the most pressing or important actions within your project. The things that have to be done before you can move to another required action.

everThis meshes very well with using Evernote to create project notes. With “note linking” you can create hyperlinks to other notes within Evernote to keep everything related to a project in one place. This is beautiful. For those of you who don’t think they’re good planners, it might create somewhat of a revolution in your life. Try it for an upcoming event like an anniversary. If you start planning now, the chances of it happening are much higher. Say you want to get away for a four day weekend in the Smoky Mountains. You’d create a note within Evernote and name it “Smoky Mountains Anniversary Trip.” What will you put in there? You can create a list with check boxes. Getting the time off of work. Paying for it. Where you’re going. What you want to do while you’re there. Restaurants just have to try. Are there zip-lines? Do you want to hike in the national park? Visiting Dollywood? Where are the mountain cabins at the best price? Can you book one? Are you driving or flying? What is the cheapest or easiest way to get there and back.

You’ll get everything organized the way you want, and the next actions will percolate to the top of your mind and that’s what you’ll focus on next. You may find that certain things don’t fall into place. The cabin you want is booked on the dates you want to rent it. You won’t have enough money saved this year. So you defer it to the next year but continue to work on it. That actually gives you more time to plan. And once you get hooked on working this way, the time will fly by because you’ll be planning other things, too. You can use this process for most everything.

ZenDone gives you the opportunity to review everything you’ve dumped into your Evernote bucket, and deal with it.

  • Do it
  • Delete it
  • Delete it
  • Delegate it

My friends, the four D’s are the only things you can do with an action, aside from meetings and other things that naturally go on your calendar. I’m sure you know how to use your calendar. Bonus: ZenDone links up with your Google calendar, too.

Evernote master notes and note linking keeps all of your project materials in one place, as discussed above. If these Brain dump articles have been useful to you, leave a comment.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Evernote or ZenDone in any way besides as a customer. I don’t get kickbacks if you make a purchase, and I don’t share any information with them about you. If you want to give me money, buy my books. Thanks!

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