An Introduction to GTD: Getting Things Done

GTD system by David AllenAlthough this is far from breaking news, it is a new tactic I’ve started to implement in my own life: GTD: Getting Things Done. GTD is a work-life management system by David Allen that helps people who are overwhelmed in any part of their life to produce and implement a system that will help them achieve “stress-free productivity”.

The book of the same name walks you through, step-by-step how to implement a simple system that anyone can use. Although it is a common sense approach, David’s system is literally revolutionizing my world!

When you implement GTD, you will immediately start to lose the feeling of being overwhelmed and it will be replaced by a feeling of self confidence and progress. What I really loved about the system is that it is rigid, but not confining. There truly is no right or wrong way of utilizing this system. The only “right way” to implementing GTD is by getting meaningful or important things done with the least amount of energy, time or attention.

One of the main, and easiest to remember, principles of GTD is the simple yet powerful rule: If it takes less than 2 minutes – do it now. Everything else is placed into one of the buckets that you will implement when designing your system. It’s amazing how much impact that one little rule of thumb has on your life. Try it out for a week, and see what I mean.

There are a few things you’re going to learn about when you start reading GTD and implementing into your life and business, but we’re going to start with the first one, and that is the workflow process which is broken down into five tasks: Collect, process, organize, review, and do.

Collecting is simply a method in which you can take everything that needs to be done and capturing it into your “inbox”. Your inbox can be anything you want (here’s where the flexibility of the program comes in). It can be a physical inbox on your desk, an email folder, piece of paper, PDA, etc. As long as it’s something you will regularly use, you can use it for your bucket.

Processing your bucket is a more rigid concept in that you must start at the top of your bucket and work your way down. You can only deal with one thing at a time, and you can never put something back into the bucket once it’s been removed. When you take the item out of the bucket, you’ll need to decide if you want to do it (only if it takes 2 minutes or less), delegate it to someone else, or defer it to another time. If the item doesn’t need an action, you need to do one of three things: File it away as a reference item, throw it away in the trash, or “incubate” it in a someday file.

David talks about the organizing process by suggesting the following lists: Next Actions (literally the single next step to deal with the item), projects (for anything that needs more than one step), waiting (for when you have delegated something to someone else, and someday for things that do need to get done at some point in time. You’ll also rely heavily on your calendar for what David describes as developing the “hard landscape” of your day.

Reviewing should be done on a daily basis if possible. This will allow you to rely on the system you have created rather than trying to remember each item inside your head.

And finally: do! The system just won’t work if you never actually do any of the points mentioned here.

If you haven’t picked up the book yet, you really should get down to your bookstore and pick it up. You won’t be disappointed!

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