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Wrike helps you get things done

Published by Daria   |  Thursday, 09 August, 2007
A guideline for successfully applying David Allen’s method with the help of Wrike

David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done” has won enormous success among busy people and especially among project managers. The book offers a breakthrough method of organizing your life, completing your tasks and achieving excellent results. It helps us solve the problem of “how to get all the stuff finally done.” The key point of David’s conception is finding “a logical and trusted system outside of your head” to store all the things that need to be done. The only thing you have to do is find such a system. It’s that’s simple, right?

There are a lot of options to collect your own to-dos, but how about making other people get things done? If you work in a team you, need to manage the work of others and follow your team members’ progress. To find a system for collecting your team’s to-dos could be a great challenge. But not for you! In case you need a smart tool that can relieve you from memorizing every task and reminding people about them, we’ve got something to offer you. Wrike will capture all your plans and to-dos and get you and your team into a productive state.

Here we’ll guide you through getting things done collaboratively in Wrike. We will show you that it is simpler and more effective than using paper files, calendars or other tools.

David Allen identifies 5 steps we need go through to manage our workflow. We need to:

Collect
Process
Organize
Review
Do


Let’s follow all the 5 steps and see how to manage your team’s tasks in each of these stages.

Collect

David stresses that it is absolutely necessary to collect all the things you need to do in one place, including “anything personal or professional, big or little, of urgent or minor importance.”

When you’ve decided what your commitment is, you define your “open loops.” By “open loops” or “incompletes” David means anything which needs to be done, including global, regular or tiny actions. Your next step is to gather all your “open loops” in one place and get them off your mind. You enter all your to-dos into Wrike. You can do it in 2 ways:

1. If you have a new project in your head, you can create all the tasks online, name them, assign a due date and leave short comments.

2. If you are more comfortable with writing e-mails and you want to start using Wrike on the go, you can send your tasks to wrike@wrike.com and the system will create them for you in your personal Web space. If you have e-mails with tasks assigned to you, it is possible to just forward them to wrike@wrike.com.

Process

Since you’ve finished collecting your to-dos, you start structuring them. You decide whether each “open loop” is actionable or not. In case you decide that the item is not actionable, David recommends to either trash it, put it off (incubate) or keep it for reference.

How you do that in Wrike? If the item is not actionable, you either move it into Recycle bin (if it is of no importance) or put it in the “Ideas” folder, if the action is not needed immediately, but you still don’t want to forget the “loop.” Here you can also store your reference materials.

If you want to be reminded of a task that is not actionable now, but will be needed in a month, you can put a corresponding due date to it. For example, you have to make preparations for a conference that will take place in October, and today is the 2nd of August. You measure the time necessary for preparations and mark the start date (the date when you want to begin getting ready for the conference). The actual conference date will be your due date.

If you decide that the task is actionable, you need to choose whether you want to complete the task immediately or not. You should first define what project or outcome you committed to and then determine your next action. David gives us three variants for next action: do the thing, delegate it or defer it.

Do it. If you decide that the task should be done within 2 minutes, then according to David's advice, it's better to do it right now.

Delegate it. In case several steps are required to fulfill the task, you choose the right person to do the task. If you feel that the task can be completed successfully by someone else, you should delegate it. It’s more than easy to do in Wrike. To assign a task, you need to simply open it in Wrike, choose the “edit” option and enter the e-mail address of your associate into the “assigned to” field. Your associate will then get an e-mail notification with the details of the task. By this e-mail, he is invited to work on the assignment in Wrike. Now he can edit the task, reassign it or mark completed.

Tracking a handoff is necessary if you care at all whether something happens as a result of the task. Wrike takes this part of your responsibility. You’ll follow the progress of others as you get e-mail notifications from the system that your associate has added details to a task, changed the due date or completed the assignment. Wrike lets you know you got something done.

If you cannot delegate the task and have to perform the action by yourself, but nothing can be done immediately, you defer acting until later. The task is then marked “active” by default in the system and stays on your project list.

Organize

The next step would be to structure your tasks by projects. According to David Allen’s getting things done strategy, a project is any desired result that requires more than one action step. This means that all your to-dos, even some rather small things that you might not normally call projects, are going to be on your “projects list”.

The template folders to store your projects already have been created for your convenience in Wrike. It includes personal and corporate folders, where you can put projects that you may be involved in. It even has a shopping list, in case you don’t want to forget to buy something. David gives us a sample structure that can be used for organizing your projects by folders in Wrike.

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Now you can customize the folder hierarchy the way it is convenient for you. It is possible to name folders after your projects or rename folders the way you like. Don’t be afraid to put a task in the wrong folder. Wrike is a very flexible system, designed meet your requirements on the spot. As you will develop your projects in Wrike and get adjusted to the system, you can move tasks to a different folder. In case things change and projects evolve, you can change your whole folder structure in minutes. You can also put a task in several folders simultaneously, if you feel that the task completion is necessary for a number of projects.

If you work on a project with somebody, you can share the project folder with him. This will give him an opportunity to contribute into the work and follow the progress of the project.

Practically each of your tasks might have additional material or relevant information. You can easily store it in Wrike. You can upload files and images. Wrike allows you to combine your project list with all the project material you might need. All the tasks and corresponding text information, files, images and e-mails are in one place and always at hand for you and your colleagues.

Review

To get things done, it is absolutely necessary to review your progress. By reviewing, you control your whole getting things done system and track results. David stresses that you need to trust your system. That’s why it is absolutely important to keep it up-to-date. You should put everything that comes up and needs to be done in the system. Fortunately, it takes only seconds to do it, as you can either forward the e-mail you received or create a new one and put wrike@wrike.com into CC field. You should also mark “completed” assignments that you’ve managed to accomplish, so that you can track the progress of the work.

The next step of keeping your system trustworthy is the actual reviewing of things you have to do. According to David’s method, you need to keep track of your lists that is “projects list”, project support material, calendared actions and information, "next actions" lists, a "waiting for" list, reference material and a "someday/maybe" list. Using Wrike will allow you to keep all these lists in one place and save your time on paper notes. What's most convenient is it's all integrated with your e-mail inbox.

David suggests reviewing your tasks for the day, so that you don’t forget any important actions. He stresses that having reminders for your tasks is crucial for getting things done. In his book, he recommends creating a list of “incompletes” that are “waiting for” something not depending on you and a list of “next actions.” These are basically lists of reminders for you not to forget important things, and you have to review them regularly.

With Wrike, you don’t have to review your to-dos and overdue tasks. You get reminders of your open loops automatically from the system. Wrike has a built-in notification function, which won’t let you and any of your team members forget overdue items. Wrike sends you an e-mail and reminds you about the due date of your tasks. So you meet all the deadlines easily and never forget anything.

In addition, you get a quick project tasks overview opportunity. Wrike has a timeline function, which is designed for you to take a look at all your outstanding projects and open loops. It will give you the full overview of your activity and help keep track of your to-dos. The timeline is available at a click of a mouse. It gives you a chance to scan all your active tasks, thus radically increasing the efficiency of the choices you make about what you or your team should be doing at any point in time.

Do

The next and final step is the actual doing. Wrike made it possible for you to collect everything in one place, so now you have a reliable system that helps you reduce stress in your life and get a clear mind. Now you need to make your action choices and accomplish your mission. The more things you get done, the closer you are to your whole project completion.

If you followed all the steps of David’s methodology using Wrike, you’ll find that it actually saves you more that 30 minutes per day. and increases your productivity. Try getting your projects done in Wrike and feel that you do your work faster and communicate on your projects much easier. Using Wrike means less stress for you and your colleagues and more benefit for your business.

9 Comments
  • Published by Emma, Friday, 14 September, 2007
    I love GTD, but I've practiced it with paper mostly. Thanks for these tips, I'll definitely try it and let you know how it goes.
  • Published by Bill Jacobs, Friday, 14 September, 2007
    Such a thorough description of GTD application in Wrike! Your team must be GTD fans. Does it really save time to use Wrike for getting things done? How much time does it save you per week?
    By the way, I like the idea of not having to review my “waiting for” and “next action” lists. Notifications sound great.
  • Published by Mary Marcus, Sunday, 23 September, 2007
    I'm trying to use the GTD system too and I have a question regarding tagging? How do I do that in Wrike? I would like to organize my tasks so that I would be able to see a complete project.
  • Published by Daria, Wednesday, 10 October, 2007
    Bill, yes we do practice GTD ourselves and it saves us up to 30 minutes per day. We published a post on how we apply the getting things done method in Wrike to let you and our other users to know how we do it.
  • Published by Ray King, Sunday, 13 September, 2009
    This is great progress towards achieving the GTD system.

    However, why not have "File Task" and "Defer" buttons.

    Also, two CRUCIAL functions that are missing: offline functionability (such as the beautiful RTM + Google Gears model) and Recurring Task (also see RTM or any PM software).

    =)
  • Published by Daria, Thursday, 08 October, 2009
    Ray,
    Thanks for your comment! The "Recurring Task" feature is already in our development plan. So stay tuned! By the way, we already have "deferred" as a Wrike task status, and you're welcome to use it.
  • Published by Andy, Saturday, 20 March, 2010
    Hallo Wrike is great! BUT I´m missing one crucial thing from GTD (or do I just miss out that option?)

    The "tagging" of a task. Eg. In several Projects I have a taks where I have to "Call" sombody.

    Now - when I´m eg. in the car, I want to see all my "Call" Actions and work only on these specific tasks - regardless in which project this task is stored.

    Does somebody know how I can solve that cruical point with Wrike? That would safe my "year" :-)

    Andy
  • Published by Daria, Monday, 22 March, 2010
    Andy,
    This is easy to do in Wrike. You simply need to create a folder "Calls" and include all the tasks from all the projects where you need to call somebody in this folder. Here's how: http://www.wrike.com/help/flexible_structures/fs_include_a_task_in_many_folders

    Wrike allows you to sort your tasks in multiple ways, i.e. include one task in multiple folders and this is one one example of how Wrike's Flexible Structures can be used.
  • Published by Shellie Chapman, Thursday, 08 July, 2010
    Can you add in Outlook public folders and link these to write projects?

    If so, can someone please tell me how?

    Thanks

    Shellie

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