GTD or Getting Things Done. Introduction to a New World Without Worries About Forgotten Things

"It's fine to decide not to decide about something. You just need a decide-not-to-decide system to get it off your mind" - David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free-Productivity.

David Allen. Credit:

Hello there, random reader. This is the first part of a series of blogs dedicated to GTD. I’m planning on writing 3−5 blogs about this system. Ok, without any further ado, let’s start.

How good are you at managing your tasks now?

First of all, I have a couple of questions for you. Are you always late everywhere? Do you work as hard as possible but don’t get mind-blowing results? Do you always put things off for later? Do you have a mess in your room? And do you always look at this mess and feel guilty? How often do you forget things you should have done? Tried a hundred time management systems and gave up on everything? Lots of questions, don’t you think so?


But what if I say that there is a solution to all of these problems? GTD or Getting Things Done is a great method for improving your personal effectiveness, described in the book of the same title by productivity consultant David Allen. What will that method give you? Imagine a person with the "black belt" management style I am describing:

  1. He/She has everything under control;
  2. He/She is always calm and never nervous. The reason lies in (1);
  3. He/She is always 100% focused on the thing he/she is doing right now at this moment;
  4. He/she achieves dreams one after another. Even small dreams;
  5. His/her results, his/her salary, respect from colleagues and so on are much higher than yours;
  6. He/she is always there where he/she should be;
  7. He/she doesn’t have a time schedule
  8. When he/she walks out he/she can stop and listen to songs of birds
  9. He/she can relax. And after relaxation he/she is truly relaxed.

Interested in becoming that person?


What is GTD after all?

GTD is not time-management in the classical sense, it’s task-management. The aim of this system is to achieve maximum efficiency in everything: in work, in leisure, in time spent with the family. I will explain how to use this system and how to implement it in your life in the next blogs. Also, I draw your attention to the fact that GTD is not teaching you how to do certain things faster and better. It’s a decide-not-to-decide system which will allow you to fully concentrate on things you are currently doing. And you should remember: "No pain — no gain". This system is no magic wand that will solve all your problems. You will solve them. It will only help you to complete them the way you want and when you want.

The system is all based on two key objectives:

  1. Capturing all the things that need to get done — now, later, someday, big, little, or in between — into a logical and trusted system outside of your head and off your mind
  2. Disciplining yourself to make front-end decisions about all of the "inputs" you let into your life so that you will always have a plan for "next actions" that you can implement or renegotiate at any moment

Preparing the ground

Now I will throw your attention to the axioms of this system:

  1. You must capture everything that bothers you in a trusted system outside your mind (collection bucket) that you know you'll come back to regularly and sort through. It is very important because you are most productive when there is nothing that distracts your mind
  2. You must clarify exactly what your commitment is and decide what you have to do, if anything, to make progress toward fulfilling it
  3. Once you've decided on all the actions you need to take, you must keep reminders of them organized in a system you review regularly

A little bit of practice at the end

If it was enough to grab your attention that’s wonderful. Now let’s try one exercise in order to understand the idea of this system better.

I suggest that you write down the project or situation that is most on your mind at this moment. What most "bugs" you, distracts you, or interests you, or in some other way consumes a large part of your conscious attention? It may be a project or problem that is really "in your face," something you are being pressed to handle.

Got it? Good. Now describe, in a single written sentence, your intended successful outcome for this problem or situation. In other words, what would need to happen for you to check this "project" off as "done"? It could be as simple as "Take the Hawaii vacation," "Handle situation with customer X," "Resolve college situation with Susan," "Clarify new divisional management structure," or "Implement new investment strategy." All clear? Great.

Now write down the very next physical action required to move the situation forward. If you had nothing else to do in your life but get closure on this, where would you go right now, and what visible action would you take? Would you pick up a phone and make a call? Go to your computer and write an email? Sit down with pen and paper and brainstorm it? Talk face-to-face with your spouse, your secretary, your attorney, or your boss? Buy nails at the hardware store? What? Got the answer to that? Good.

Now go and make that project or situation come true. Moreover, try to think about how this exercise helped you and why. In the next blog, I will write my answer to this question. :) See you later in the next blog.