Ninja Tools for Workflow Mastery – CORD model

29/5/2013 |

Ninja CORD Workflow Productivity Model diagram Think Productive

The CORD Model

CORD stands for Capture and Collect, Organize, Review, and Do. Most people have mastered one or two of the steps without even knowing the model, but to be a productivity ninja you’ll need to master all four! Following the CORD productivity model will help you to balance your workflow and focus your attention on what you should be doing, rather than what you have been doing (note that Facebook isn’t on the diagram!)  At first this might look complicated, but stay with me for five minutes and you won’t be disappointed.

*You can download a PDF of the CORD Model diagram here:

1. Capture and Collect

Capturing ideas can come from things you read, people you speak with and experiences you have. These are the lightbulb moments you have in the shower, on the treadmill or during a meeting. Collect these ideas in the form of note taking, emails, organizational tools or lists. As long as you record them somewhere you’re doing this step correctly. Remember — your brain is for having ideas not holding them!

2. Organize

Now that you have captured these ideas and collected them somewhere other than your mind, it’s time to organize. Organizing is not just about separating your ideas into categories, it’s about being able to distinguish what ideas should be turned into actions, and which actions have top priority. There are three levels of lists: a daily to-do list, a projects list and master actions list. The daily list has actions you want to complete today, the projects list organizes your actions by category, and the master list holds all of your actions regardless of timing or group. Tip: Don’t just make categories for work, have one for shopping and making healthy choices too!

For each idea ask yourself:

  1. Is there an action worth doing here? (If not, trash it! Or put it in the Good Ideas Park)
  2. Is it me next? (Am I the best person to carry out this action?)
  3. What’s the next physical action? (Complete it myself? Delegate it to someone else?)
  4. Is there a project related to this? (Group similar tasks together)
  5. Is there a deadline related to this? (Add it to my calendar)

There are numerous organizational tools you can choose to help you with this task like Wunderlist, Toodledo, Remember the Milk etc.

3. Review

Now that you have a place for all of your ideas and have organized them into actions, it’s time to review. There are two types of reviews, daily and weekly. Both are necessary in order for you to monitor your progress and to stay on track. Many people falter when it comes to this step, not because they don’t think it’s important, but rather because it gets pushed aside by other tasks. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but if you skip too many reviews you may find yourself completely off course, unprepared for work or so bogged down in mindless chores that you can’t get the important things done. Avoid this with regular reviews.

Here are five stages of review.

1. Get all of your inputs back to zero – inbox, receipts, notes collected

  1. Get your second brain up to date – calendar, lists, task management system
  2. Think ahead – projects lists, major deadlines
  3. Get ready – preparation for meetings, travel, etc
  4. Questions – Am I resisting a task? How can I change this behaviour? What task(s) can I get rid of?

Use your productivity app to set a review reminder!

4. Do

The point of “Do” is not to get more things done, but rather to get the right things done.  There will never be enough hours in the day to get everything you want completed, so be ruthless in how you decide to use your time. Be mindful of your resistance to doing certain tasks or your tendency to spend too much time on others. Remember that 80% of the benefit comes from 20% of the work, and it’s more efficient to do things in batches (like making all of your calls at once).  Multitasking isn’t efficient, so focus. Try scheduling a Pomodoro to help.

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  1. Kirsten Wreggitt

    I love my “Second Brain”! Thanks Dawn, for your training on this model and the amazing increase in my producticity as a result! I was just thinking today about how wonderful it is to see the progress I am making on those “big projects” that before never seemed to get any further ahead. What a gift – thanks again!

    • Dawn OConnor

      Kirsten – you are a Ninja! The gift is in the application of the tools. You are inspirational.


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