A Month of Getting Things Done (GTD)

My first GTD In-Basket

This mess was my first “in-basket” (refer to stage 1 below). It included everything in my physical environment that wasn’t exactly how it should be, where it should be, forever, as well as everything in my mind that I will/may need/want to deal with someday.

In October, I read and applied David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done“.

Getting Things Done (GTD) is a system for getting things done as efficiently as possible while maintaining a clear relaxed mind.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section (~80 pages) is mostly a waste of time. It consists of rambling theory that could easily be condensed into 8 pages or less without any loss of real content. The rest of the book (sections 2 & 3) explain how the GTD system actually works and how to apply it.

I won’t get into the details of how the GTD system works, but here are the basic stages:

1 – Collect everything into your in-basket that demands your attention
2 – Process what they mean and what to do about them
3 – Organize the results
4 – Review the results to choose what to do
5 – Do

For me, the benefits of the system have been:

  •  Being more organized
  •  A clearer mind

Tho things which I think are not covered thoroughly enough in the book are:

Prioritizing: I ended up creating my own prioritization system which includes prioritizing not only based on importance and urgency, but also based on the time required to complete each task. I find that it can sometimes be best to get 10 lower priority items completed in an hour, before working on a high priority item that will take a day to complete.

Time Management: The book could provide more/better information on what to do when. A significant improvement that I made a couple months after reading the book was imposing a 9-5ish work schedule on myself (I work from home with flexible hours, so it’s easy to be sloppy with my schedule). The book didn’t cover the benefits of spending extended periods of time focused on one activity, with few breaks or interruptions.

In all, I’ve found GTD to be a worthwhile system and now, 5 months later, I’m still using it (although not flawlessly).

Comments

  1. menturi says

    Hello!

    Recently I became more interested in improving my productivity and have heard a bit about Getting Things Done.

    How do you organize everything? If you use software, what software do you use? If not, why not and what do you use instead?

    Any tips or lessons you care to share from your past 5 months to someone who has not yet started to attempt to apply it? I’m concerned I won’t be able to stick at it.

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