Mind Sweep: Next Step, Winnowing Tasks

I talked a little last week about Mind Sweeps and my most recent attempt at getting all the tasks that were taking up my mental real estate onto paper and out of my head. On paper where I can deal with them and they don’t prey on my unconscious. If you haven’t read that post go ahead and click on the link above and read over it. The post is very short so it will only take a minute… Back? Okay, as I stated back there sitting down and spending the five, ten, twenty minutes you need to get all the tasks you think you have to do onto paper. Doing that though is just the first step in the process, the next step? Is winnowing that giant list down into something workable.

My Mind Sweep after winnowing through it all

What is winnowing? It’s an audit of your tasks. An honest audit, lying to yourself isn’t going to help complete any of these tasks. First, go through the list and do all the tasks that can be completed in the next two minutes (if you’re familiar with GTD, you know what this is.) Second, consolidate any of the tasks that are part of a single project into said project. Third, eliminate any of the tasks that you know you’re never, ever going to complete. Fourth, if you absolutely can’t part with a task despite knowing you don’t have the time or inclination to do, put it into a “Nice to do some day” folder.  As you can see from the above image out of an entire page of tasks I’ve eliminated most of them, consolidated some, and moved others into the “Nice to do some day” folder. At the end of it I’m left with fifteen odd tasks.

After winnowing down the list the next step is creating tasks for them, which I’ll cover in another post.

Question: Does everyone already know this stuff? Am I the only person interested in this kind of task, mind, information management stuff? Let me know in the comments below!


Author: falselogic

Doesn’t mix well with polite company; his two favorite topics being politics and religion. Would rather be out cycling, swimming, running, or camping. Misspent his youth reading genre-fiction; today, he is making up for it by reading large quantities of non-fiction literature. The fact that truth, in every way, is more fascinating than fiction still tickles him.

3 thoughts on “Mind Sweep: Next Step, Winnowing Tasks”

  1. Heh False (B)logic, I like your sound ideas and lightness under the weight of it all. We all know what you mean about an honest audit, immediate handling of quick tasks, and grouping related tasks as one time allotment. I’ll turn to your easy-to-remember shelving system for straightening the sometimes messy toy room in my head. From the perspective of advanced age, I’ve found those nice-to-do-someday items do get their day in the sun. For decades I’ve been meaning to read all of Toni Morrison, and it’s suddenly happening. Readiness? leisure enough? need? Some combo of the mix.

  2. Love this post and love the harvest moon page theme.
    Found your page while googling winnowing GTD. I read the book but forgot the concept.

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