GTD (Getting Things Done) captures and processes information

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Getting Things Done is a time-management method, described in a book of the same title by productivity consultant David Allen. It is often referred to as GTD.

The Getting Things Done method rests on the idea of moving planned tasks and projects out of the mind by recording them externally and then breaking them into actionable work items.

In time management, task priorities play a central role. Allen’s approach uses two key elements — control (collect and process tasks) and perspective (horizons of focus).

In Summary

  • What is the task, is it actionable?
  • Whats the next action, how long will it take?
  • Delegate, defer, do

Getting Things Done: Horizons of Focus

  • Runway – day to day tasks & next actions
  • 10,000 feet level – your current areas of responsibility
  • 20,000 feet level – your projects 90 day goals
  • 30,000 feet level – 5-6 key areas the focus of your projects and next actions
  • 40,000 feet level – your visions – 3/5 year goals – what does my life look like?
  • 50,000 feet level – your life’s purpose & legacy

In addition:

  • Daily review of next actions and committed projects
  • Weekly review of 90-day goals and areas of focus
  • Quarterly review of 90- days goals and life plans
  • Annually – review life plan and ‘why’

Allen argues that it is often difficult for individuals to focus on big picture goals if they cannot sufficiently control the day-to-day tasks that they frequently must face. By developing a system that clarifies and defines the regular workday, an individual can free up mental space to begin moving up to the next level of focus.


Alternative version

Minimal Zen Things Done

In order to organise your thoughts and your time try the following approach adapted from Zen Habits.

  1. Capture. Get a notebook and carry it everywhere. Write down all your thoughts, ideas, to-do items, doodles, whatever. Download a to-do list program like Abstract Spoon To-do list and regularly transfer the items into this list. Have a physical inbox in your workplace or home- and put incoming stuff in it.
  2. Process. Go through your to-do list and inbox and process the items quickly, making quick decisions. Do it at least once a day. If it takes less that two minutes to do the task or deal with the item, do it, otherwise either delegate it, or give it a date or put it back on your to-do list or file it away in an archive. Give it a status:  action, waiting, someday maybe, etc. Check out these GTD desktop wallpapers.
  3. Plan. Time plans are massively important. Each week set your big rocks- max 3 per week, the big things you want to achieve. Each day set max three MIT’s (most important tasks) – make sure you finish them by the end of the day but be realistic. Do your MITs early in the day if possible and get them out of the way. You can try an open-source project management program like Open Workbench. If you work in an organisation, particularly charity with a small budget you could try a collaborative application like Collabtive or Open Atrium
  4. Do. Focus on one task at a time, and eliminate distractions. Write any incoming requests or distractions in your capture notebook as per step one.

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