GTD-OutlineAsk yourself the following questions.

Do you find yourself thinking “I must remember to xxxxxxx tomorrow”?

Do you have a Todo list that seems to get longer throughout the day?

Do you organise tasks differently at work and at home?

Do you sometimes find yourself unable to focus on one task at a time?

Do you have hundreds, if not thousands, of emails in your Inbox?

Do you find yourself feeling that you have too much to do?

If the answer to any, or all, of these questions is ‘yes’ then you may find GTD is what you’ve been waiting for.

Getting things done is a way of organising things which is one of the most commonly used productivity processes out there. Detailed in the book Getting Things Done – Stress Free Productivity, by David Allen, the process is as much a stress reduction process as it is a time management discipline.

Over the coming weeks, I intend to take you through each step in this simple, but incredibly impactful, process. I’ll explain each step in the process, giving real world examples of how to implement it. I’ll give you tasks to do, and help you, if you follow along, get control of your life by Getting Things Done.

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The process is broken down into five steps. In this post, all I want to do is introduce them. In the coming weeks, I’ll take the first one and go into it in more detail.


This is the stage where you collect everything, and I mean Everything, you have and put it in some kind of inbox. This can be clearing the piles of paper on your desk or in your cupboards, clearing out your car, going through your note book. It also includes collecting all of the thoughts and ideas you have in your head. The key to this stage, when implementing GTD, is that you go through everything. When I did this, I ‘collected’ every piece of paper from my desk, in-trays, drawers, boxes, and put them all in a big pile on my desk ready for the next stage. My advice, if you undertake this, is to do this in stages, as it can take a fair amount of time to go through all of this.


This is the most cathartic part of the whole system. Pick up the first piece of paper and ask yourself, “is this actionable?”. If not, you will either trash it, save it (in a someday file), or file it (in a reference system). Then pick up the second piece etc. You will find that this part of the process removes a huge percentage of the pile. If it is actionable, and can be done in 2 minutes or less, do it now!. What you are left with either goes into a Projects file (if it is part of a larger piece of work), or in your Next Action list (in whichever reminder/task management system you use).


This step in the process is only really done once, as most of it involves setting up, what GTD calls, buckets. These are the files, or software systems, you use to hold your list of projects, next actions, things you will do eventually, things you will delegate etc. Once they are set up, you just put things in them as part of the processing stage.


Despite the fact that a great number of things will have been done as part of the Processing, this stage is where you work through your Next Action list. There is a lot in the book about how to prioritise these things. I tend to work out how important things are, and do the most important, most urgent, things first.


Probably the most important aspect of the system is the regular reviewing which gets done. I have a daily review which is where I quickly collect to my various inboxes (physical, email, notebook, Evernote etc.), process them (doing the 2 minutes tasks), then review my Next Actions and priorities for the day. I then know that I am doing the most important things. I also have a weekly review which allows me to review the whole system to make sure that nothing is being missed (I will discuss these reviews in more detail in a future blog post).

GTD is a system that is not only aimed at achieving significantly improved productivity, it is aimed at allowing you to do so in a way which dramatically reduces stress. Once you have your system in place, and have made sure you have inboxes set up to collect anything at any time, you don’t need to worry about anything any more; once it is in your system you know it will get done.

Next week I will discuss Why you should think about implementing GTD. I’ll give you some of my experiences of doing it, what I’ve gained, and what difficulties I’ve faced doing it.

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