Table of Contents

Collect loose papers, materials (2 minutes)

  • Paper notes
  • Mail

Mind sweep (20 minutes)


  • What has my attention?
  • Don’t censor - just collect
  • It’s not a to-do list
  • Quantity, not quality
  • Free associate
  • Move around or look around for visual cues


  • Projects started, not completed
  • Projects that need to be started
  • “Look into” projects
  • Communications to make/get
    • calls, emails, voice mails, faxes, letters, memos
  • Read/review
    • books, periodicals, articles
  • Financial
    • cash, budget, balance sheet, P&L, forecasting, credit line, payables, receivables, petty cash, banks, investors, asset management, bills, investments, loans, taxes, insurance, mortgage, accountants
  • Planning/organizing
    • goals, targets, objectives, business plans, marketing plans, financial plans, upcoming events, presentations, meetings, conferences, travel, vacation
  • Systems
    • phones, computers, software, databases, printers, furniture, fixtures, decorations, supplies, personal organizers
    • home office supplies, equipment, answering machines, internet, TV, DVD, appliances, entertainment, filing, storage, tools
  • Meetings
    • upcoming, need to be set or requested, need to be de-briefed
  • Waiting for
    • information, delegated projects/tasks, pieces of projects, replies to communications, responses to proposals, answers to questions, submitted items for response/reimbursement, tickets, external actions needed to happen to continue or complete projects… (decisions, changes, implementations, etc.), things ordered
    • mail order, repairs, reimbursements, loaned items, information, rsvp’s
  • Professional development
    • training, seminars, things to learn, things to find out, skills to develop or practice, books to read, research, formal education (licensing, degrees), career research, resume
  • Commitments/promises to others
    • spouse, partner, children, parents, family, friends, professionals, returnable items
  • Upcoming events
    • birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, graduations, outings, holidays, vacation, travel, dinners, parties, receptions, cultural events, sporting events
  • Family
    • projects/activities with spouse, partner, children, parents, relatives
  • Leisure
    • books, music, videos, games, travel, places to visit, people to visit, web surfing, photography, sports equipment, hobbies, cooking, recreation
  • Legal
    • wills, trusts, estate, legal affairs
  • Home/household
    • real estate, repairs, construction, remodeling, landlords, heating and A/C, plumbing, electricity, roofs, landscaping, driveways, garages, walls, floors, ceilings, decor, furniture, utilities, appliances, lights and wiring, kitchen stuff, laundry, places to purge, cleaning, organizing, storage areas
  • Health
    • support and maintenance, doctors, dentist, optometrist, specialists, checkups, diet, food, exercise
  • Personal development
    • goals to set, classes, seminars, education, coaching, career, creative expressions
  • Transportation
    • autos, bikes, motorcycles, maintenance, repair, commuting, tickets, reservations
  • Clothes
    • professional, casual, formal, sports, accessories, luggage, repairs, tailoring
  • Pets
    • health, training, supplies
  • Errands
    • hardware store, pharmacy, department stores, bank, cleaners, stationers, malls, gifts, office supply, groceries
  • People
    • family, friends, manager, coworkers, groups
  • Business
    • projects to start or finish, correspondence, invoices, taxes, supplies, new things to try

Get Inbox to zero (10 minutes)

  • Physical intray
  • Personal email
  • Work email
  • SMS messages
  • Google Docs
  • Financial accounts

Review calendar

  • Past calendar (2 weeks back) in detail for remaining action items, reference data, etc., and transfer into the active system.
  • Upcoming calendar events - long and short term. Capture actions triggered.

Update action lists

  • Mark off completed actions.
  • Review for reminders of further action steps to record.
  • Are there any projects disguised as action items?
  • Delete items no longer relevant

Review projects lists

Look at each project and task with my long-term goals in mind. Is this a distraction? That might be OK, but if it doesn’t line up with a goal I might want to decide not to do it.

  • Are there any missing projects?
  • Are project objectives clear?
  • What projects don’t have next actions assigned?
  • What projects have been completed?
  • What projects should be moved to a Someday/Maybe list?
  • Any completed projects that should be added to my performance review list?
  • Project support documents/boards
  • Any lurking next actions?

Review 30,000’ - 50,000’ lists

  • Someday/maybe & annual goals
  • Look for projects which may have become active, and transfer to Projects list.
  • Delete items no longer of interest.

Be creative and courageous

Any new, wonderful, hare-brained, creative, thought-provoking, risk-taking ideas to add into my system?