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This Series is a part of 30 Days of Learning.

This is an overview of the GTD technique for task/life/focus management by David Allen. I have heard a lot about this but never got the chance to fully implement the workflow in my Life. GTD is based on a simple truth, you have a lot of tasks in your mind and more often than not you waste time by thinking about those tasks rather than doing them. There are other methods like PARA, Second brain by Tiago Forte, which I want to learn more about but today we will walk through GTD.

The Basic tenets and methodology of GTD are :

  • Capture : Collect all the thoughts / Tasks/ things you have.
    • This can be anything Physical or Mental.
    • Mental things like planning things in future
    • Capture Mental things by writing them down. These things can be personal professional anything.
    • Don’t leave anything in the Head. It is the leakiest place on the Earth.
    • Head is for having ideas not holding them.
    • Tools for capturing can be digital/physical like pen /paper.
  • Clarify: What is the type of task is this?
    • Process what you have captured.
    • First Question to ask is this thing actionable?
    • If No, then
      • Thrash it
      • Is there an action for this task in near future? then Incubate.
      • Reference → if you want to refer to it for any other activity
    • If Yes, then
      • What is the very next action. (A Project is the outcome of many such actions. )
      • If the action item takes less than 2 min, then do it right then.
      • If not → Can you delegate it?
      • If not →
        • In Calendar as a planned task
        • It goes into your TODO list as next actions.
  • Organize: Put the task where it belongs
    • Create a list for next actions main list.
    • Sample lists are Project List, Office List, Personal List.
    • For Delegated tasks, you can have a waiting for list
  • Reflect : Review frequently
    • Reflect on your TODO lists which is most important and need your urgent attention.
    • Look backwards/ Forward in your calendar.
    • Do a weekly review, Schedule a time at the end of the week for this (1 hour).
  • Engage: Do the tasks
    • Be appropriately engaged.
    • The only angst and anxiety-reducing tablet is action.
    • Where do you want to put your focus.
    • You make intuitive judgements based on priority and help externalize the commitments.

GTD helps people to a state where they are not where they should be. GTD helps to execute elegantly. GTD’s main focus is execution and gets control. Pay attention to what has your attention and appropriately pay attention to it.

The main Barrier to Entry with GTD is the addiction to stress, cruise control and the willingness to tolerate not doing things. It creates a backlog and your life slows down. Keystone habits for GTD are emptying your head and doing a weekly review. With GTD you can create a culture of responsibility.