In an age of constant connectivity, endless work and limited attention spans, the mere thought of getting things done may seem like an insurmountable feat, but it doesn’t have to be that way. David Allen, the titan of time management, showed the world how to do it in 2002 with the release of his groundbreaking book, “Getting Things Done,” which also doubled as a call to action.
The secret behind getting things done – or GTD, for short – is simple. GTD is a productivity method that helps you arrange your priorities into manageable parts with five easy steps:
Capture – Collect What Has Your Attention
The first step is to record everything that has your attention. You can use a notepad, planner, digital recorder, smartphone app or your favorite gadget.
Clarify – Process What It Means
Take a look at everything you recorded. Break them down into actionable goals. If one of those tasks can be completed in two minutes, then get it done right away. If not, then you can either delegate it or assign it to a list.
Organize – Put It Where It Belongs
Arrange your actionable goals into categories and prioritize them in order of importance. Think of them as a series of to-do lists based on your personal and professional goals.
Reflect – Review Frequently
Look over your lists as often as you can to determine your next move. This will help you revise your lists to keep you on the right track.
Engage – Simply Do
The last step is the most important. This is where you choose a task, get it done and move on to the next one.
Allen states clearly that you must have a trusted system (smart phone and computer or paper) where all your open loops (projects and actions) exist that is outside of your head. This leaves your mind empty for creative thought. My smart phone is the primary entry point for my system but I also have it synced with my laptop so it’s always available for me to add, update, review and decide what actions I want to do. I have gone one step further in that I have organized my projects and actions by roles in my life so that I can always review these roles and ensure that I am making progress in all areas of my life (family, work, organizations, interests, me).
The end result is a mind like water that ripples through your consciousness like a pebble thrown into a pond. When Allen applied the principle of mind like water to GTD, he wasn’t just invoking the spirit of martial arts icon Bruce Lee. He was describing a state of perfect readiness, in which your mind is free of distractions and prepared to complete the next goal.
GTD has been instrumental in clearing my mind by helping me focus on the goals that require my undivided attention at the appropriate time. I’m confident it can do the same for you.
If you’re interested in making GTD a part of your daily life, check out the following list of helpful apps to keep you organized.
These apps are available for iPhones and Android devices, in addition to web-based platforms.
This app is exclusive to Apple and available on iPhones, iPads and Macs.
Rodney Ziebol is an ADHD and Co-Active trained Life Coach specializing in College Age and Adult entrepreneurs and / or those dealing with ADHD, Asperger’s, HFA, ASD, PDD-NOS.