There are a variety of different methods created with the intention to help the user increase his productivity. This post focuses on David Allen’s Getting Things Done Methodology.
Getting Things Done, or “GTD” as it’s more commonly known, is not only a productivity system but also started a movement. The concept was created by David Allen, a management consultant as a way to help executives manage the daily tasks of running a business. Since its creation, it has been refined and is probably one of the most used productivity systems today.
Simply put, GTD is a method for organizing your to-dos, priorities and your schedule into a manageable chunk. One of its main benefits is the ease of seeing all your responsibilities on one plate and allowing you to make clear what to do next. GTD also has a reputation for being complicated although it doesn’t have to be.
There is a simple rule to Productivity.
There are no rules. Adapt any system to what works for you.
The whole concept of GTD is five simple steps that are meant to provide you structure and allow you to be more creative, strategic and focused.
CAPTURE: Collect what has your attention
Have a tool or tools for collecting all your ideas, recurring tasks, projects and everything that needs to be handled or finished. There is no specific tool required just use what fits best in your normal flow. It should be something that you can access quickly so you can capture everything as soon as it happens. It should also be flexible so if a new task or project arises you can get it out of your head and into your system as quickly as possible. If your current to-do app does not allow this freedom, find one that does. The idea of capturing everything is that it clears your mind of any mental distractions that will keep you from working efficiently.
CLARIFY: Process what it means
Once you have captured everything that is necessary, ask yourself one simple question, “Is it actionable?” If the answer is “No”, then trash it, or file it as a reference. If “Yes”, then decide on the very next action required. An important tip emphasized in the GTD book is the two-minute rule. Anything that takes less than two minutes to accomplish, should be done right away. It takes longer to defer it or put it on a calendar than accomplishing the task immediately. The rest go on a task list or calendar for processing later.
ORGANIZE: Put it where it belongs
Break down larger projects into smaller, actionable steps.
Anything that has a due date, should be placed on a calendar.
Create lists for appropriate categories i.e. emails to send, calls to make, meetings etc…
REFLECT: Review frequently
This is probably one of the most important steps but a step that frequently gets skipped. Set aside some reflection time to review your task list. There is no faster way to waste time than working blindly without relooking at the big picture to see if you are still heading in the right direction.
I recommend reviewing your list at the beginning of each day to ensure you start with your most important priorities. A quick review at the end will help you review your productive day.
If reviewing the list twice in one day is too much, then consider a daily beginning review and a complete end of week review. Evaluate what got accomplished and plan out your next week’s priorities and tasks.
By separating the tasks into separate categories, you will be able to quickly see what’s important, what takes the most or least time to accomplish and what you need to tackle next.
ENGAGE: Simple do.
Continue to capture, clarify, organize and reflect on an ongoing basis until it becomes a natural part of your productivity system.
The GTD system can take some discipline and time to learn it properly and use regularly. It is not a good system for people who can’t commit to its guidelines or don’t have the discipline to get the most out of the system.
Have you ever used the GTD methodology? What worked best for you?
If you are looking for ways to become more productive, download my “Productivity Toolbox” ebook. It has 54 Productivity Apps for busy people.