Getting Things Done is a fast-growing productivity method that has earned a devoted following among technology workers, and a growing mainstream audience. In the simplest possible terms, GTD is a productivity system that applies to home life and to work. In slightly more detailed terms, Getting Things Done is a productivity and time management method that centers on clearing out your mental and physical inbox on a daily basis. This means that everything that you need or want to do will be processed and ready for action as soon as you’re in the best situation to take care of the task. GTD aims to free users from the burden of having too much to do, by removing the stress of constant decision-making, and replacing it with a structure in which everything can get done.
How Does GTD Work?
The daily practice of Getting Things Done encourages you to keep everything written down, from tiny errands you need to remember to do tomorrow, to major plans you hope to accomplish fifteen years down the road. Allen calls this constant note-taking “Ubiquitous Capture.” Everything you write down goes into your inbox, which can be anything from a shoebox on your desk to a folder on your PDA. At least once a day, you process everything, breaking it down into simple physical tasks that Allen calls “Next Actions.” These actions then are sorted into the GTD structure, which groups tasks together by the context in which they need to be done, i.e. by “at the computer,” “at home,” “at the telephone.” This daily Getting Things Done session is meant to free you from the worry of keeping track of things in your head, and from the stress of deciding when and how to do the various tasks on your plate. You use the GTD context lists throughout your work and home life so that you always know what needs to be done in the context where you happen to be. Daily practice is just one piece of the puzzle, however: the full GTD methodology offers further planning techniques including a weekly review to make sure your lists and actions are current and useful, and ways to keep your big picture dreams constantly in view. Allen’s system is meant not only as a way to sort through the minutiae of daily tasks, but as a method for making sure you get done the things that are most important to you in your life as a whole.
Who Uses GTD?
A large number of the earliest adopters of Getting Things Done, and many of its most vocal advocates, are workers in the technology and computer fields. However, GTD isn’t just for Silicon Valley programmers. The system’s creator David Allen, who authored the book “Getting Things Done,” has consulted for a wide range of companies, and boasts a client list that includes organizations ranging from M&M Mars to the American Red Cross to L.L. Bean. Articles about GTD have shown up in the pages of “Time,” “Business Week,” and other major publications as the buzz about Getting Things Done has begun to shift from geek culture to a larger population.