Throughout the week, I “capture” items and put them in a variety of Inboxes for processing. David Allen likes to refer to these sometimes as Buckets. You have one inbox which receives everything you “collect” but it winds up in multiple buckets. Sometimes I sort it as I go rather than letting it accumulate into just one inbox.
My buckets are basically a series of file trays to the left of my computer, within easy reach. The red plastic bin is my inbox … my staff and others know that they can simply drop things into there that need my attention. (Anything that is urgent and important is given to me immediately.) The red bucket comes out on GTD sorting day, which is planned for Wednesday afternoon but can be postponed to Thursday if needed.
The three file trays to the left of the red bucket are to transport documents elsewhere. One is for things to be brought to my home, across the street from the church, the second is for the other church on our charge, and the third is for my wife’s attention and use. (Sometimes she leaves things there.)
The two towers of file trays have specific purposes. The one farther to the left is for filing. I’m not able to discipline myself to file into specific folders so I have holding bins for most things I need. They are in order from top to bottom:
COMMITTEE – coming up
COMMITTEE – holding bin
COMMITTEE – done, ready to file.
EMMAUS BIN (All involvement with the Walk to Emmaus community.)
IGRC BIN (All conference level committees and involvements.)
DISTRICT BIN (All district level committees and involvements.)
MISC Bin – ready to file.
90% of my filing is correlated to these bins, and the remainder can go in the bottom one. Next to this tower on the desktop surface is the Evernote scanner. I digitize anything I can and upload it into Evernote as my primary filing system, so there is really very little paper to keep.
The file tray tower to the right, where I can easily reach it, is for items with actions associated with them. In GTD, the first decision at Clarify is whether the item is “done” or if there are further actions to be performed with it. If it is done, it is then thrown away, filed as reference if needed, or in a general “Someday Maybe” bin for review at some time in the future … but not now. If it is not done, there is an action connected to it.
V (The top file is items for my secretary to do.)
Someday or Pray (my short term version of someday/maybe. To be reviewed monthly.)
Q1 – Urgent and Important – Monday
Q2 – Important – Tuesday
Q3 – Urgent but not Important – Wednesday
Q4 – Neither Urgent nor Important – Thursday
My goal on Monday is to finish the items in the Q1 tray. I also do my GTD processing on Monday, which sets up the system for the week’s work. On Tuesday I add in what is in the Q2 tray. On Wednesday I process the system again, working in items that are not important, which the Pareto Principle suggests are 80% or more of what I do. And on Thursday I take up what is neither important nor urgent … because it is exactly that. It doesn’t matter if it gets done quickly or well … there is just a need for closure on it.
With this structure, I can fulfill the goals of my system – to put my hands almost instantly upon any task I need to accomplish. The system for online or virtual buckets for email and Evernote are similar.