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I Organize My Task List Like David Allen and So Can You

Updated on June 18, 2013
Photo by Tony Case (Great Beyond) used under Creative Commons
Photo by Tony Case (Great Beyond) used under Creative Commons | Source

David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done and productivity guru has been teaching productivity methods since the 1980s and took the center stage in 2002 with the publication if his first book. His methods largely center on identifying next actions and information management. Among the most critical things is a strong task list implementation to organize all the things that need to be done. Who better to learn from than David Allen?

According to "How David Allen organizes his tasks" he maintains his next actions in Lotus Notes as To-Do category with a simple category that defines the context like "Projects", "Calls", "At Computer", etc.

This process is similar to the quick steps I use to organize my tasks using Outlook 2010 and earlier versions.

I follow four easy steps to get new items from my in-box onto my task list.

1. Flag the message for follow-up, which moves it to the To Do list (a consolidation of task and flagged items).

2. Categorize the e-mail with a context that is relevant. I use @Phone, @Project, @To Approve, @person name (in particular I use this to identify tasks I have delegated for follow-up during review meetings).

3. Move the items to a follow-up folder to avoid cluttering my in-box. This is an important step and with Outlook, the software will show all flagged items in the to-do list regardless of the location.

4. Sort by category. This ensures that I can quickly see the tasks based on the context, as I am able to address them—for example seeing task that I need to do at a telephone when I have one available.

While these three steps may seem too involved to be efficient, I have used macros in Outlook 2007 to accomplish these tasks and Quick Steps in Outlook 2010 to make most sorting "one click".

After I have the messages sorted, I can use the To-Do list to execute based on deadline and context to keep the balls in the air. I am also able to manage a weekly review to make sure that I don’t loses sight of what needs to get done.


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    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      I delete those emails i regard as not important, move mails into folders

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      My entire life I have struggled with organization, and it's a work in progress. I appreciate your information to help me on my quest for organization. Great hub, very informative.