Allen’s Input Processing Technique!

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David Allen’s input processing technique is a framework which help you keep

track of tasks, ideas, and projects.

The Getting Things Done system is made of 5 simple steps – input, process, organize,

review, and engage.


Imagine that you are walking back from work. Excited that another successful day has


But all of sudden you realize you didn’t call Rahul who is your best friend and

today is his birthday.

But you were so busy the whole day that you never had a chance to call.

“no problem,” you think to yourself – “as soon as I get home I’ll wish him happy birthday”

but when you get home, a pile of unopened mail greets you by the door, unwashed

dishes are calling your name and you distracted by other tedious house chores.

The next morning, feeling like a horrible friend, you wonder “how can something so

important slip my mind?” The reason is simple – your brain is for having ideas, NOT for

holding them.

With a never-ending stream of demands for your attention, both at home and at work,

things are bound to slip through the cracks.

Only when your mind is clear and your thoughts are organized can you achieve

effective results.

This is where Getting Things Done, or GTD for short comes into play. It is a framework

designed to help you keep track of tasks, ideas, and projects.

The Getting Things Done system is made of 5 simple steps – input, process, organize,

review, and engage.


Allen’s Input

Everything begins with “capturing” all ideas, tasks, projects, to-do items, and other

random bits of information that come your way every single day.

These are things like emails, letters, calls, and action items that come from talking to

other people or they can be ideas and tasks that are born in your own creativity and


Wherever that information comes from, you need to input it or externalize it so you

don’t have to keep it in your brain.

Now that you have all this information, it is time to make sense of it so you can

actually move forward with your goals, instead of wanting to pull your heart out from the

information overload.


Step number 2 in GTD is processing.

For every item you input ask yourself the following question – is it actionable? The

possible answers are two – YES or NO.

If the item is actionable, like an email from a colleague asking you about an update for

the project you are working together on, ask yourself a followup question – would it take

2 minutes or less to complete? If the answer is “yes”, go ahead and do it. If the answer

is “no”, you need to put this action off for later by adding them to an action items list

(more on that in step 3).

Or if it will take you 30 seconds to reply to your colleague’s email, it makes sense to

take care of it on the spot and move on.

If you need to have a 20-minute conversation on the topic, it is best to schedule it. If the

the item you are processing is “not actionable” – as a confirmation of a payment you made

for your monthly internet bill – you have 2 choices – discard it or keep it as a reference in

case you need that info down the road. Repeat the same process for every piece of


You’ve processed the information, things are already looking up for you, now you need

to organize it.

This is where the magic happens. You have an action list from all the actionable items

that you did not already do previously.


Allen’s Input

Now you need to organize and prioritize them based on the following 3 criteria:- by

the project, by time and by context

Actions related to a particular project, such as building a deck for your next presentation,

or organizing the Halloween party for your kids can be grouped together.

Actions that have some sort of a deadline, or are time-specific (like Rahul’s birthday)

Should go on your calendar so you can take care of them when the time is right.

You can also group actions by context, such as phone calls you need to make or

groceries that you need to pick up.

Of course, you can also mix and match and put things in more than one category –

This is where you need to tweak and personalize GTD to fit your needs. You know best

How to group and prioritize your items.

One thing to always keep in top of your mind, is this question – what is the next action? If

you sit down to call Rahul for his birthday but don’t have his number, you are not

being very efficient.

The next action should’ve been “find Rahul’s number”, not “call Rahul”.Asking yourself

that question will help you sequence things better.

Now, you’ve organized your action items, the sun is shining brighter and the world is a

happier place! But what about the non-actionable items? That’s easy.

They can either be kept for reference –

like that manual for your TV that you don’t need until your kid turns on the Spanish

closed captioning and you need to figure out how to reverse it.

Or they can be deferred for later – like that idea for a business that you would like to

keep and revisit in 6 months when you have more time – add it to a “someday maybe”

list and create an action item to review this list in 6 months. Done! High five! All the

random information is now organized and you are ready to take over the world.


The next step is Review. With so many demands for your attention, things are bound to

go out of place.

This is where the review comes into play. Every week, review your items and make any

adjustments if needed.

Is everything where it supposed to be? Is there a pile of information somewhere that

Do you need to process?

A weekly review is essential to keep everything running smoothly. Every month, take

some time to review your short-term goals.

Are your action items moving you towards your goals, or are you just keeping

yourself busy?

Are you saving for that car, are you learning Spanish you want or are you in reaction


Schedule these regular reviews and reflection periods so you can ensure the train is

heading down the right track.


Allen’s Input

The last part step in GTD is called “engage”. This is where you actually roll up the

sleeves and get cracking. Your calendar should contain all the tasks that you need to do


Also, Your project list will tell you what you need to do to move a project forward. Your

contexts will help you batch things together.

As you go about your day, crossing all of those items, the next information is bound to

come your way.

Now you know what to do with it – capture it, decide if it is actionable if the answer is

yes and you can get it done in 2 minutes or less, do it, if not add it to the appropriate

action list.

If the information is not actionable, it gets stored or ends up in the trash. Nothing to do about it.

You are now as cool, calm, and collected as a Buddhist Zen master deep in meditation.

Now, Rahul will never have to spend another birthday without wishes from his best



The Conclusion of the blog Allen’s Input, Processing, Technique comes out to be, that their are various techniques which you can understand in this blog like:-

  • Input
  • Processing
  • Organize
  • Review
  • Engage

Also you can read our blog on 10 Common Time Management Mistakes.


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Allen’s Input,Allen’s Processing,Allen’s Technique
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