Get Things Done—Step 2: Clarify

In our last two newsletters, we introduced the five-step process in David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.”  


Clarify is a two-step process centered on sorting through all of the information and to-dos that come your way. It means reviewing what you have in front of you to make sure you understand it and determining the actionable steps you need to take. For example:

  1. Say you get a piece of mail from your tax accountant. Before you can take the next steps, you need to figure out what the paper is about.
  2. Then, you must ask yourself, “Do I need to do something with it now?”

If “no,” decide if the information should be trashed, will require action someday, or needs to be kept around for future reference. 

If you must act soon, ask yourself, “What is the next action?” If it’s something that will take less than two minutes, get it done now. For example, if there’s a tool on your desk, you can quickly unclutter your workspace by putting it in a work truck. That will also ensure your crew has it on hand when they’re out on their next job.

If an action will take more than two minutes, decide who should handle it. Delegate it if there is someone else who has the skills and time to take care of it successfully. For example, sending financial information to the accountant might best be tackled by your bookkeeper. Or a project manager might be the one to respond to an email from an inspector about a framing detail. If you’re the best person to handle an action, make a note to remind yourself of it or schedule a time on your calendar to do it.

Pro tip: Allen recommends dealing with one item at a time so that you can focus better. Multitasking leads to distraction and mistakes! 

Stay tuned for our next issue when we’ll discuss organizing your to-dos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.