How to Pick the Next Thing to Do: The Six-Level Model (GTD)
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The second model in David Allen‘s GTD book to help you determine the very next thing you should do is the “Six-Level Model”.
The second model is a higher-level one; it takes the things you do and shows you how they fit in the context of your life.
The actions you perform funnel into projects, which support the stuff you’re responsible for, which support your medium- and long-term goals, which support your life. (In this context, a “project” is a group of tasks that involves more than a few simple to-dos.)
Each level of the model is (from bottom to top):
#1 Runway – Actions
The stuff on your to-do list, phone calls to make, errands to run, emails to send, people to meet with, and more.
#2 10,000 Feet – Projects
The projects that your actions funnel into – cleaning your house, buying a new phone, or planning a vacation, for example.
#3 20,000 Feet – Responsibilities
Another level up – the responsibilities that your projects funnel into.
At work – administrative, developing new products
At home – house maintenance, health, finances, raising your kids
#4 30,000 Feet – 1-2 Year Goals Your medium-term goals.
In other words, what you are hoping to accomplish with your “areas of responsibility”.
#5 40,000 Feet – 3-5 Year Vision
Now we’re reaching pretty high altitudes.
This level is your vision, and it includes expected career transitions and longer-term financial and family changes.
#6 50,000 Feet – Life
Why am I here?
Why am I working for this company?
I personally don’t think this model is worth using every day, but it is definitely worth using – I use it about once a week.
Though it gets cloudier the higher you move up the model (how often do you think about your 3-5 year goals?), the higher you go the more worthwhile questions you ask of yourself.
When you understand the larger projects, responsibilities, and goals your actions feed into, it’s very easy to determine if your actions are worthwhile, or whether you’re just doing whatever is easy.