Getting Things Done is a lot more than a Time Management technique. It is a way of dealing with your brain’s method of keeping tabs on the things you have to get done. It is a way of maximising you productivity while minimising our stress. Simply put, it is a way of getting control and getting what you want.

I came across Getting Things Done, or GTD when I was looking for an App for my iPad. I wanted something to keep to do lists on; something that would help me keep track of what I needed to do, and what I was trying to achieve. As I was looking I kept seeing the mention of GTD in the description. I decided to look in to it and once I found out what it was, it was clear to me that I needed to implement it. I bought the book, read it in an evening, and scheduled some time to get myself in order.

The outline of the process can be found in my last post, so I wont go back over it. Also, I intend to go into each stage in a lot more detail to help you with how to implement it yourself. In this post I want to focus on what I gained from implementing it.

Starting out

What I found was that the very first step in the process (which I had to break into many different physical locations) was an incredibly cathartic experience. With each piece of paper (yes I mean bit of paper – more on this in future posts) I took from my desk; my drawer; my wallet; my car; my cupboard I could feel a weight lifting from my shoulders. The only decision being made on each thing at this stage was “can I bin this?” Where I had previously had a desk with no clear space, and many drawers with things that were kept (for use later), I ended up with two full desk trays of stuff and two black bin bags full of clutter. I had understood the point of de-cluttering for a long time, but I did not appreciate how de-cluttering a physical space, would have an immediate impact on de-cluttering my mental space. I instantly felt more in control and less pressured than I had.

Now don’t get me wrong, this one step was done in each physical area (office, house, garage etc) separately, but with each one, things felt better.


The next step in the process was to go through each item, starting at the top, working on one at a time, and process it. As discussed before this involves deciding if you need to do anything with it, or file it. If you do need to do something with it, and it will take less than 2 minutes, do it now. This was something I did with my physical space and also my Outlook Inbox. At the end of this exercise, all of my Inboxes (physical and virtual) were empty. My action folders had significantly less in them than I would have dreamed. I also had an up-to-date list of projects that I had on the go, something that became the mainstay of the strategic difference GTD can make. I was not only struck with a sense of calm but I was eager to get going with working through my Action items.


The whole point of GTD is that you have what is called a Trusted System (more on this in future posts). You don’t have to rely on remembering anything (something which we constantly do subconsciously normally). All you need to do is have a trusted way of getting new things into your system, and have a structure to it that works for you.

What this has given me, in general terms, is a relaxed and in control method of dramatically improving my productivity. It works at all times and in all aspects of my life. It is robust and constantly evolving. It came from GTD, but has become my own version of the system that works with my foibles and preferences.


One of the fundamental aspects of the GTD system is doing reviews; daily, weekly, monthly and beyond. This is the part of the process which develops the trust in the system. It is where you manage to make sure you are working on the right things. It is where you ensure that nothing gets missed. It is where you get to put in place longer term goals and actions. It is something that operates strategically while helping you tactically. When I have had issues with the system, it can always be traced back to not having done my reviews properly


There are many benefits to implementing GTD, but you need to find your own reason. What I would say if any of the following describes you, it is worth looking into:

  • I have too much to do, and not enough time to do it
  • I often feel stressed or out of control
  • I often miss things which I have promised or decided to do
  • I find myself running through things to do in my head
  • I have a to-do list, and it grows and grows
  • I am more in control at work than home (or vice versa)
  • I struggle to find a work life balance
  • I have hundreds (or thousands) of E-mails in my inbox
  • I don’t have one way of remembering things

GTD can help transform your life in ways that you would not dream; come with me on this journey of discovery as, over the coming weeks, I help you implement the system for yourself.

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