The 6-Level Model to Pick the Next Task (GTD)
Having a system to help you choose what to tackle next will save you time and stress.
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, and 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, “project” is a group of tasks that involves more than a few simple to-dos.)
Each level of the model are (from bottom to top):
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
10,000 Feet – Projects The projects that your actions funnel into – cleaning your house, buying a new phone, or planning a vacation, for example
20,000 Feet – Responsibilities Another level up – the responsibilities that your projects funnel into. For example: At work – administrative, developing new products; at home – house maintenance, health, finances, raising your kids
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”
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
50,000 Feet – Life Why am I here? Why am I working for (Insert Company Name)?
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.