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Getting things Done

Updated: May 28

This is the first blog in a series on time management systems. Finding the right solution for you can take many test runs of different systems. Productivity looks different for everyone and most people use a blend of several time management techniques.

Getting Things Done is a book by David Allen that provides a productivity technique that has been very helpful in getting myself organized. There are a wide variety of productivity techniques out there, and it has taken some time for me to create a system that works best for me.

The general idea behind the Getting Things Done (GTD) technique is that in order the think clearly, we need to clear our minds of the chatter. Different ideas are constantly running around in my brain. If I do not get those to do list items out of my head, I am not able to focus and be productive.

The basic steps for the GTD method are as follows.

1. Capture – Collect What Has Your Attention

Determine a method that works best for you to collect your tasks and projects that are holding your attention. This method will vary for everyone. In GTD, David Allen suggests putting action items into a basket. If they are not physical objects, write down each action item on a piece of paper and add it to the basket. I prefer lists and use an website and app called Asana. I use Asana to collect anything that comes to my mind. I have a client that uses a voice recording system because she has found that works best for her. It is important to get everything out of your mind and capture all that you have on your plate, big or small.

2. Clarify – Process What It Means

Of the collection of items that you have created, decide if each is actionable. If it is not actionable, decide to trash it, put it to the side to think about later (I also have lists for future projects and action items), or file it for reference. If it is actionable, decide what the next step is. If that step takes less than two minutes, do it now. If it will take longer than two minutes, add it to a list to do later or delegate the task, if possible.

3. Organize – Put It Where It Belongs

Put each action reminder in the correct location. You can create lists in various ways. Lists can be created based on where you will take action on the items. For example, you can have a lists of task to do at home and a list of tasks to do in the office. A list of to do items that require you to run errands and a list of calls to make. Lists can also be created based on what project they fall under. For clients, I have a list of the tasks that I need to complete for each client. If you are buying a home, one list may be action items associated with that project. It is important to think through each action item you will need to accomplish to complete the project.

4. Reflect – Review Frequently

This step is extremely important. If you are not reviewing your lists, your tasks will never get accomplished. It is important to review and update your lists on a regular basis. The regularity of reviewing will be different for everyone and dependent on the task at hand. You may also review some lists more frequently than others if those projects need to move along more quickly. A weekly review of all action items lists is important to get a big picture view of where you are and what you need to accomplish that week.

5. Engage – Simply Do

Create a system that will motivate you to take action on the items you have on your lists. As time goes on, you will most likely modify your system to best suit you.

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