Getting Things Done (GTD)

It’s a fact that our brain is better at processing information and notably worse at storing it on a daily basis. That’s why seemingly important things – like remembering your best friend’s birthday – can slip through your mind when overloaded with distractions.

The reason above is why most people look for methods to clear their minds and organize thoughts to become better achievers. That’s where the Getting Things Done – or GTD – comes to fruition.

What Is Getting Things Done (GTD) Framework?

GTD was conceived by David Allen (who wrote the Getting Things Done book). It is a productivity framework that helps you track your tasks, ideas, and projects in an organized way.

In short – GTD helps you to organize all the information processed by your brain and helps you focus on the right things at the right time. With that, GTD helps you to focus your willpower on completing tasks rather than ideating them all the time.

The Benefits of Getting Things Done (GTD) Framework

What makes GTD so effective at managing your tasks? Here are a few reasons:

  1. Promotes mental clarity
  2. Reduces the overwhelming mental strain when you try to remember everything you have to do.

  3. Helps you stay effective
  4. Keeps you in the flow state by reducing the amount of multi-tasking.

  5. Highly flexible
  6. For better or worse, it helps you organize your tasks – but you’re still obliged to schedule them on your own.

Now, let’s see how you can accommodate the GTD framework in your life.

How Does Getting Things Done (GTD) Framework Work?

Simply put, the GTD framework is divided into five steps:

  1. Capture
  2. Process
  3. Organize
  4. Review
  5. Engage

Let’s go through each of these five steps in detail.

Capture

To make the Getting Things Done framework work, you need to capture all the pieces of information that occur to you every day.

The goal here is to externalize this information, so you don’t have to keep it in your brain. Simply write down the information that pops into your mind on a piece of paper or on your smartphone.

Process

Now, it’s time to make sense of all the captured information. For every captured item, you should ask yourself: Is this item actionable? A simple yes or no is enough – you don’t need to complicate things further.

  • If an item is actionable:
  • Ask yourself a follow-up question: Can I do it in 2 minutes or less? If the answer is YES – it makes sense to take care of such tasks right away. For instance, you can choose clothes for the next day in two minutes or less.

    If the answer is NO – add such action items to the action list. For instance, you have a scheduled website structure strategy call with your client. You will talk about it for more than 2 minutes, so it’s best to schedule it for later.

  • If an item is not actionable:
  • For example, the confirmation of the paid utility bills is not actionable. With such items, you have two choices – discard them or keep them as a reference.

Organize

You should have a list of action items you couldn’t complete in 2 minutes or less. Now, you organize and prioritize them based on three criteria:

  1. Project
  2. Actions related to a certain project. For instance: preparing presentation notes or organizing a birthday party for your son.

  3. Time
  4. Actions that are time-specific that should go in your calendar so you can take care of them later. For example, the birthday of your best friend.

  5. Context
  6. The labels for the action items are useful for grouping action items. Organizing a birthday party would go to the Personal category. Preparing presentation notes would go to the Work category.

You can group action items across these three criteria. For instance, you need to do a work-related (Context) presentation (Project) on Monday (Time).

What about the non-actionable items left from the previous step. You can:

  1. Keep them as reference (for instance, the TV manual)
  2. Defer them for later (a business idea you want to revisit)

Review

To ensure that everything is running smoothly, do weekly reviews of action items. Also, review your short-term plans each month. Are your action items moving you toward your goals or not? For instance, are you saving money for that big trip you dream of, or are you just procrastinating it?

Schedule regular review and reflection periods to stay in touch with reality.

Engage

In this step, you put everything into action. Remember, as you complete items from the list – new information will come your way. Now, you know what you need to do – so repeat the steps from above.

The Path To Clarity and Efficiency is Available

Yes – GTD is a framework that requires a hefty time investment, but the rewards you will reap from it are hard to ignore. First of all – your willpower will be much more focused on tackling the tasks head-on, and the stress of having too much to handle will be slowly eliminated.

Then, when you combine it with other time-management frameworks – the efficiency returns are exponential. That’s why this productivity framework should be a winner in your book.

References

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