What’s #GTD stand for? Getting Things Done. It’s a system developed by David Allen for productivity nerds--like me--who are systematic in their approach to tasks on their to-do lists. It’s different because instead of making a to-do list each day or week, you are constantly taking note of things that need to be done as they pop into your brain. This keeps you from forgetting important tasks and allows you brain space because you’re not trying to keep all your to-do’s in your head. Make sense?
If you want to get started with GTD before reading David Allen’s comprehensive book, just follow my simple 1-2-3 Method. You can adapt it to suit your working style as you go. Feel free to get creative with it once you nail these basics. I personally use a much more complex system, but I would have preferred to start with this simpler Method.
1. Pick a place to store all your “to do’s.”
Before you start making your next to-do list, determine where you want to store all of your tasks. Some people do best with analog systems: writing things down on paper, in a journal or on post-it notes. Others prefer a technology-based system: computer, mobile app or a multi-platform program. (I personally use Evernote because it syncs across all devices. No matter what device I switch to, I know that I can capture my ideas in Evernote.)
Because you’re going to need to organize these tasks later, choose a system that is organizer-friendly.
Key: Pick a system that is readily available at all times, so you can capture to-do’s when you’re at the office, at home, in transit, etc. If you are searching for the perfect app, I'd recommend this comprehensive guide with 67 productivity apps—you'll find something that works for you!
2. Start writing everything down that you “need to do.”
Whenever something pops into your brain, write it down (or type it). It could be something as simple as “get rubber dishwashing gloves” to a project as big as “write my novel.” Don’t worry about organizing them yet. Just capture the thought and empty it out of your brain.
Key: Write EVERYTHING down, no matter how menial the task.
3. Once you’ve emptied out your brain of “to do’s,” make a simple to-do list with your priorities.
Organize your tasks into two piles or lists: what needs to get done now and what can wait till later. Don’t get more complicated than that at first. Now, choose your most important tasks for today or this week. That’s it! You’re ready to get things done.
Key: Don’t try to overthink your priorities or organize them beyond those two categories to start.
That’s my quick-and-dirty method to Getting Things Done, though it definitely does not strictly adhere to David Allen’s method. Once you’ve mastered this 1-2-3 Method, I would recommend you read Getting Things Done or stick with my version if it works well for you. Decide how much complexity or simplicity you need to be productive and adjust accordingly.
Your Turn: Do you have a method for getting things done? Tell me about it, as I’m always searching for ways to improve my own productivity system.