GTD® Step 2: Processing

We are continuing our series on The Concepts of GTD®, using our one page graphic which can be found here.

As a quick refresher, GTD® is a five step system for processing, organizing, reviewing and doing your tasks and projects. The five steps are: Collection, Processing, Organizing, Doing and Reviewing.


In our last installment, we discussed the Collection step where we gathered all of our files, projects, tasks and ideas. The result of Collection is an inbox of files, papers, projects, tasks and idea. Now, we will move to the second step of GTD®, Processing.

The goal of the Processing step is to get every single item into the appropriate place. There are three categories of items:

Items that will never be needed.
Items that fall into this category should be thrown in the trash.

Items that are not immediately actionable are placed in one of the following lists and files:
–Someday/Maybe file if it might need some future action;
–Reference file if it might be useful for a future purpose; and
–Tickler file if it needs to be re-examined at a future date.

Items that are actionable are processed as follows:
–Do it now if it will take less than two minutes
–Delegate it if you are not the right person to do it and put it on a Waiting For List
–Defer it
—-to a Next Action list, if it is a single action item to be done as soon as possible;
—-by placing it on your Calendar if it is due on a specific date;
—-by placing it on the Project list, with supporting documents in the Project File, for multiple action tasks.

In sum, in the Processing Step, items will be either discarded, done immediately, or placed in the appropriate one of the eight folders/lists.

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