Getting Things Done

How I Use The Getting Things Done Method

I have been trying to organize my life according to Getting Things Done (GTD) method. This method is described in the book of the same title written by David Allen. The main idea of the method is to transfer your planned tasks and projects from your mind to a reliable external system and braking them into actionable work items. Using the system to organize your tasks instead of recalling them will help you to improve the quality of your life.

If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. РShunryu Suzuki

The next steps of the method are to clarify and organize tasks and projects by braking them into smaller physical things to be performed. Some of tasks may be put on hold, delegated to someone else or set aside for future reference. You are keeping the system up to date during weekly reviews. The thing is not to load up and keep everything in your mind but to store every task into the reliable system. At the moment I am using my version of the method crafted to my needs and my lifestyle. That’s why it varies in some points. The most important thing is, it works. Just applying only one idea from GTD method saying “if something takes you less than two minutes, do it immediately” will speed up your productivity a lot.

Workflow

There are five steps in the workflow: capture, clarify, organize, reflect and engage. They can be executed using digital tools like mobile applications or in a traditional way using paper notebook or sheets of paper. I use both because hand writing helps me be much more creative and it is easier for me to express my ideas.

Capture

You should start from collecting all your stuff which comes to your mind and store them separately in the inbox. For example tasks such as “buy a new shoes”, “read a new post on codesmell.ninja“, “do a code review” and so on. Just keep dumping ideas from your mind to the place you have access all the time until your mind is empty. The GTD method suggests it can be one place such as the box for paper sheets with one idea per sheet. I’m violating this rule a bit since I have two places where I’m storing my ideas during the day. The one is a TODO mobile application and the second one is my e-mail inbox.

Clarify

I analyze stuff from my TODO application and e-mail inbox and I decide what to do with it. If a task has no action to be performed, it should be deleted, marked as “someday/maybe” or as “reference”. If something requires an action, next steps needed for performing things should be planned.

Organize

If a task can be completed within one step and with the time less than 2 minutes then I try to do it immediately. If I need more than 2 minutes or I must to do it in other time, I schedule it in my calendar. Sometimes things to be done will require many steps before they will be completed. In this case we should plan a “project task”. To be honest I haven’t used projects yet. At the moment I only use Microsoft OneNote application or paper notebook for storing some of my ideas which require more than one step. I also keep tasks marked as “someday/maybe” in OneNote application.

Reflect

This step has not been fully implemented by me yet. I should perform weekly reviews of my system. During that time system should be cleaned and new things should be planned. This is something I’m working on and I need to make a habit of it.

Engage

Scheduled action which will take less than 2 minutes should be done immediately. Moving this action to the next day instead of doing it is forbidden. This is something I started to use concerning setting up various appointments like for example my dentist appointment.

Summary

The Getting Things Done method is very simple. The hardest thing is to change our old habits and thinking. Sometimes even trivial tasks like “I need to buy a cat food” will keep our mind busy for many days. We should recall our tasks just in time when we need to do them.

It is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head. –¬†Sally Kempton

Here is the list of tools I’m using to support the method: