General Task Collection Triggers

I mentioned task collection as a GTD concept in my post about the Second Quadrant of the Time Management Matrix. I find this to be an utterly invaluable experience, and even MORE valuable when done on a regular basis. The last time I read Getting Things Done, I copied his list of common task collection triggers and sliced, diced, re-worded and added to it until I came up with something that worked for me. Doing this has given me a reliable method to use when I need to stop and collect everything I need to accomplish in the next X amount of time.

This is the list of triggers that I use to make sure I don't forget about important tasks. Please note that the list provided in David Allen's book is FAR more complete. This is just my list:

  • Family
  • Church
  • Follow-Up Communication (look at my recent sent-items)
  • Upcoming Events (check calendar)
  • Borrowed Items
  • R&D - things to do
  • Financial
    • Bills
    • Banks
    • Investments
    • Loans
    • Taxes
  • Household
    • Upkeep
    • Decoration
    • Areas to organize/clean
      • Closets/clothes
      • Garage/storage
    • Vehicle maintenance
    • Pets
  • Computers
    • Home
    • Work
  • Health Care
  • Hobbies
  • Errands
    • Hardware store
    • Drugstore
    • Groceries

The idea behind this list is simple: stare at it. Use it to empty your head of all of the things that have come up recently to do that you didn't collect at the time. I might, for example, have thought this week that I needed light bulbs. I forgot to capture that thought then, and I forgot about it. Oops. When I sit down on Friday mornings to review the past week and plan the next week, I look at this list and see "Household » Upkeep" or "Errands » Hardware store" and I remember that I need light bulbs and should give myself a task to stop by Home Depot for a large-ish pack of CFLs.

Seems simple? Well, yeah... it is.

Jan 24th, 2008