Getting Things Done

Everywhere you turn, people feel overloaded from the frantic pace of a quickly shifting, always-on world. Effectively dealing with a growing stream of action items and projects can seem impossible at times. Previous ‘systems’ for time management just don’t seem to work anymore. That’s why David Allen’s insights on getting things done are so valuable.

The Getting Things Done (GTD) method is based on:

  • Get ‘stuff’ out of your mind and into a system you trust. This frees your attention to focus on actually doing things.
  • Being clear about your commitments are and what next steps are needed to make progress towards meeting them.
  • Using your system to make sure you follow-up

GTD can be implemented with just paper or through software; the key is to use what works for you. The act of capturing tasks and actively deciding the next action is very focussing. The basic method is:

  1. Collect everything in one ‘Inbasket’
  2. Decide if an action is required for each item. If not, either send it to the trash, a tickler file, or reference bin
  3. For actionable items, decide on the next action required. If it requires less than two minutes to complete, just do it!
  4. For bigger tasks, delegate where possible
  5. If it is your task, either schedule a time to work on the next action or get it on your master list of next actions
  6. Regularly follow-up with delegated tasks and review your list of next actions to see what can be accomplished right now

Simple, but it works! See how you can adapt the method to your workflow. If you use Microsoft Outlook, Sally McGhee’s book shows how the GTD method can be implemented right in email.

GTD resources

43 Folders- GTD on Merlin Mann’s productivity and life hack site

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