What is GTD?

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

Getting Things Done (GTD) is a time management and productivity system that helps you complete tasks and meet commitments in a stress-free and efficient manner using a comprehensive system of lists and calendars.

What is GTD and How to Use it?

Getting Things Done, also known as GTD or the GTD method, is a self-management method developed by David Allen in which you record all your personal and professional tasks in to-do lists. Since you no longer have to expend any energy on remembering these tasks, your mind is free to concentrate on the task at hand and your productivity zooms.

Why Are Things on Our Mind?

The primary function of the brain is to think and make sense of our environment but we start to use it for storing random information by committing to the memory, it starts to get distracted trying to remember many things. As a result, it works at sub-optimal levels, it takes longer for you to accomplish tasks, and you churn out sub-optimal work.

But once you have put it down on paper, you have emptied out anything that is calling for your attention knowing fully well that you are not going to forget doing it but that once you are done with the task at hand, you will return to this list. The act of committing what's on your mind to a paper frees up your bandwidth for thinking and focusing better on the task at hand.

GTD has a framework for organizing and tracking your tasks and projects in a trustworthy system so that your brain does not have to remember it. The objective of GTD is to make you have 100% trust in a system for collecting tasks, ideas, and projects—both vague things like “invent the best product ever” and concrete things like “call Rajiv on 25 August to discuss next coaching assignment”. EVERYTHING!

What GTD gives you—when understood and implemented properly—is a fool-proof system for keeping track of what you need to do, should do, or should consider to do. When your system and your trust in your system is in place, your subconsciousness will stop keeping track of all the things you need to do and stop constantly reminding you.

This reduces stress and frees up precious brain time to more productive thinking.

At the most basic level GTD is system of creating and maintaining lists that will be reviewed regularly and form the backbone of the GTD system.

The 5 Steps of the GTD Method

The GTD method consists of five steps that you do in a specific sequence.

GTD’S Five Steps of Mastering Workflow

  1. Capture Collect anything and everything that’s grabbing your attention

  2. Clarify Define actionable things into concrete next steps and successful outcomes

  3. Organize Sort information in the most streamlined way, in appropriate categories, based on how and when you need to access it

  4. Reflect Step back to review and update your system regularly

  5. Engage Make trusted choices about what to do in any given moment

Three stages to Integrate GTD system

  1. Understanding - You understand the distinct differences in the five phases of Mastering Workflow. You understand a project versus a next action. You know how to transform what you’ve collected by asking the key processing questions, clarifying what something is, and what you want to do about it.

  2. Implementation- You have installed at least the basic gear to support a GTD system, including ubiquitous collection tools, functioning reference systems for your non-actionable information, and seamless buckets with “clean edges” for tracking your projects and next actions.

  3. Behaviour Change- The five phases of Mastering Workflow are second nature to you. You have changed the way you think and work and are achieving stress-free productivity on a regular basis. When you “fall off” you know what to do to get “back on”.

Your Action Item:

Start the practice of always committing your thoughts, tasks, and ideas on paper. Promise yourself that anytime anything pops up in your head that is asking for your attention, capture it all in one place. This is the first step in freeing up your minds thinking capacity.

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