Join David Allen for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding the three Ds, part of Getting Things Done.
So we've handled capturing and we've also explored clarifying what that means. We will shortly move into organizing, but there's an actual interim step here. When you're clarifying things, and that's really the stage of getting your in basket empty, or taking your list and making sure you're putting it through the appropriate drill to clarify what they are and then what you're going to do with them. There's an interim step here and we call it the three D's. Once you actually decide what the very next action is on an actionable item, you have three options.
First of all, you could actually do the action right then. And that's our recommendation if that action can be done in two minutes or less. This is the, the famous two minute rule of getting things done. And there are people who swear that this, even if this is the only thing they got out of either reading my book, Getting Things Done, or going through our programs, the two-minute rule is golden. They said it's like giving you an extra six months to your life. The two-minute rule simply says if you decide an action item, and where you are in the context you're in, if you can actually finish that action in less than two minutes, do it right then.
If you're ever going to do it at all. Because it would take you longer to stack it, track it, and look at it again than it would be to finish it the first time it's in your face. And you'd be surprised, by the way, how many things you can actually do in two minutes or less. And two minutes doesn't mean that it's not an important thing. Many times, the next action on some of your most strategic things, is a two minute action. It might be a quick email you need to shoot to somebody, it might be something you need to, i could be just a piece of information you need to pull off the website. So, two minutes. Now, the two minute rule applies really when you're cleaning up.
That is, when you're cleaning up your in basket. You don't necessarily want to spend all of your day doing just two minute actions but if you're get, got something in your hands or something you pass somebody in the hall and say, hey, David, would you handle X, Y and Z and I can literally do it in two minutes, you just want to do it right then. It's a great habit to get into. And that sort of do it now, if you will. But only the two minute ones, because if it takes longer than two minutes, you don't want to be running down some rabbit trail that may not be tactical or strategic for you. Ideally, you want to be able to clean up your backlog, that is get your in-baskets to zero before you start allocating sort of bigger chunks of your discretionary time.
So ideally, you just want to as you're cleaning house, then a lot of stuff actually gets done in the process. If you're in a high email environment, by the way, 30 to 40% of your actionable emails you could probably dispatch in two minutes or less. So keep that in mind, do the two minute ones. Longer than two minutes, then you need to ask yourself the next key question. The second D to deal with would be, can it be delegated? Are you the appropriate person to actually do that action? Is there somebody else around you who is more appropriate to do that? Do you have an assistant, do you have somebody who reports to you? Do you have a colleague or a peer, they they need to be the people to do this? If it can be delegated, you want to delegate it, and ideally delegate it it right then in, in the system.
A lot of my delegations just go through email. That's a pretty easy and fast way to do that. Sometimes you might need to hold a conversation for somebody because, if you're going to hand something off to them and it's complex, you might need to make sure you've got a face to face conversation in order to be able to hand it off appropriately. But it's good to just build that into your system. When we talk about organizing, one of the key organizing categories will be agendas that you hold for meetings and also for people. So sometimes the way you'll delegate is just add that to the agenda to go over with Susan or Marcos or whomever that you're going to hand this thing off to.
So delegate if you can. Two minutes or less, do it. Longer than two minutes, hand it off if you can. And if you can't do that, in other words, you're it, it takes longer to do this action item and you're the one to do it, that's then, the third D would be defer. That's then what I need to then organized as a reminder of work to do that only I can do. So those are the actions that I need to do. Like that's a long document I need to draft. Or that's a spreadsheet that I need to fill out or to design. Or that's a presentation that I actually need to craft in PowerPoint or Key Note.
So you might want to see, are there any two-minute actions sitting around you that you could do right now just to get a feel for that. Is there anything you want to hand off or delegate to somebody else? See if there's something there that you might want to do just to practice this. And if it is then something for you to do and to hang onto, don't worry. In the next section, I'll talk about organizing and we'll talk about some of the categories that might be an appropriate place to put those.
NEW for 2015: In an exclusive bonus chapter, David Allen answers some of the most frequently asked questions he receives about Getting Things Done, including why GTD is different and how it can scale for larger teams and organizations.
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Q: This course was updated on 1/02/2015. What changed?
A: We added 45 minutes of new content in the Bonus Interview chapter. Learn why Getting Things Done is different from other productivity improvement methods, and how it can work for you, your family, and your team.