The David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) workflow is an excellent model for maintaining your sanity in the midst of the daily onslaught of “stuff” that comes your way, demanding your attention.
The five basic steps of GTD are:
Yammer, or a tool like it, can be particularly helpful in implementing GTD because it can eliminate some of the “stuff” before it gets to you, and because it can make collecting, processing and organizing your information more automatic, not just for you but for all of the people with whom you work.
As a tool for Collection and Processing, Yammer can be great, particularly if you and your colleagues use it for your regular communication with each other. The GTD principle is that you should have as few collection buckets for your “stuff” as you can, but as many as you need. Yammer ties in extremely well with email, and lets you easily share and store information and links to Internet or intranet resources.
To the extent your work unit’s conversations can start in a posting to a Yammer group (a minor change to your habits that is actually easier, once you get used to it) and be continued through email (no change required), I believe you can make significant gains in productivity.
In the Processing phase of the GTD workflow, you go through your email Inbox and decide whether messages require action by you or others, now or in the future (Do, Delegate or Defer). If it’s not actionable, your choices are to Delete it or file for future reference.
We’ll get into the Delegate or Defer actions in a future post, but one of the beauties of handling the non-actionable items in your Yammer email inbox is that Deleting and Filing in general reference are exactly the same action.
Why? Because if the email has been generated through Yammer, the content already has been archived.
So instead of having to move the message into a General Reference folder in your email client (such as Outlook, Entourage or Apple Mail), you can just quickly read and delete all of your Yammer messages, knowing that you can find the content later if you need it.
When you read a Yammer message, all you have to do is ask whether it is actionable: Should I do anything with this? If it isn’t, just delete it.
I also recommend setting your email client so that it has a preview pane, so you can quickly scan through your emails (including those from Yammer) and go through the read-and-delete cycle. That way you don’t have to double-click to open messages, and wait for them to pop up.
Effective use of Yammer groups and tags can help ensure that the email messages you get are more relevant to you. And as more of your colleagues use Yammer for more of their messages, the value will increase.
In a future post, I will examine how Yammer groups can help you create a personal GTD system, even if your colleagues aren’t yammering.