Join Dave Crenshaw for an in-depth discussion in this video Mastering the what, when, where processing system, part of Time Management Fundamentals.
- If you've completed all the training up to this point, you'll understand how critical it is to process. Processing is simply the act of deciding what the next step is to completing something, when you're going to do it, and where its home is. What, when, where processing is at the heart of helping you master your time. In this video, I'll provide a brief overview of the what, when, where system. Then, in the next videos I'll analyze each part of this system in greater depth.
The first step of the what, when, where processing system is to take one item from one of your approved gathering points. Remember, an approved gathering point is one of those six places where anything unresolved should be put. When it comes time to process, you pull out just one item and begin processing that one item. It's critical that you take only one item at a time. If you pick up two or three items or halfway through processing one, stop and pick up another, you're switch-tasking.
Switch-tasking is inefficient because it slows you down, causes you to make more mistakes, and increases your stress. So, pick up one item and ask yourself the question, "What is the next step?" Meaning, what is the next step I must take to move this thing toward completion? The second question you ask yourself is, "When will it be done?" Meaning, during my available time, when should I take that step? Should I do it now? Should I do it later? When is that time? Then finally, ask yourself the question, "Where is its home?" Meaning, where does this thing belong? Should I file it away? Should I stuff it into a drawer? Should I throw it away? Get in the habit of asking yourself these three questions every single time you pick up an item during processing.
What is the next step? When will it be done? Where is its home? In fact, for the first hour or so that you use this new system, ask yourself these questions out loud. What is the next step? When will it be done? Where is its home? Saying this out loud helps condition your mind and build mental muscle memory. Repeat these questions over and over until you get to the point that you can't pick up a new item until you hear yourself asking these three questions.
What is the next step? When will it be done? Where is its home? If you consider these three questions, you'll realize you're already processing. Everyone has to process. You have to answer these three questions or nothing gets done. However, if you haven't been following a system like this you're likely making these choices haphazardly and incompletely. You're switching throughout your day asking the what, when, where questions haphazardly and it's causing you to lose significant amounts of time, make lots of mistakes, and increase your stress.
Rather than processing randomly throughout the day, we're going to create a consistent schedule to go through this processing. This schedule will help you process quickly and with minimal effort. It all begins with these three questions: What is the next step? When will it be done? and where is its home? Before you've processed your first item though, let's explore these questions in depth.
Learn how to get more done in the shortest time possible and avoid the obstacles and distractions that can get in the way of good time management. Dave gives practical strategies for increasing productivity in three main areas: developing habits to be more organized and reducing clutter in your workspace; staying mentally on task and eliminate the to-dos you have floating in your head; and developing a time budget to get the most done during your workday and focus on your most valuable activities.
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- Finding your productivity style and motivation
- Understanding the principles of time management
- Avoiding the pitfalls of multitasking
- Narrowing your gathering points
- Consolidating email and voicemail accounts
- Practicing mind-clearing techniques
- Choosing and using calendar software
- Saying no with tact
- Mastering the what, when, where processing system
- Processing email vs. checking email
- Maintaining productivity gains