Getting Things Done (GTD) is the 2001 David Allen best-seller that introduces his methods of personal productivity and organization. I've been hearing lots about it lately on NPR and in the blogosphere, so I thought I'd give it a try.
GTD strives to help increase your output in work and life while helping you be more relaxed in the process. How does it accomplish this? The goal is to clear your brain of every project/idea/task that's been nagging at you (I have GOT to take the dog to the vet for his exam!), get them on paper (or on digital paper), and figure out what the very next action is that you can take on each item.
To set up the system, you need a good solid weekend to do a mind/workspace purge. You go through your house and office, looking for things that have been nagging at you to get done, and write it down. Need to go to the dry cleaner? Is that lamp broken and need to be replaced? Would you like to rearrange your closets? Then you do the same thing with the things floating around in your head. Oh! I need to start thinking about preschool for Hal. I really need to look at our budget again. Maybe we should look at some new packaging ideas, etc.
Once those ideas are in your in-box (Allen tells you how to set up a workstation), you go through them, doing anything on the spot that would require less than 2 minutes (quick e-mail, for example), writing down the other "things" on a "projects" list, a "someday/maybe" list, or just toss it if it is unimportant to you.
Then you go through your projects, and decide what the very next action you can take on each one and write it on your "next actions" list. For example, one of my projects is to "get a haircut." My next action is to "look up Juut's phone number." When I finish looking up the number, I cross it off, and make the next action "call Juut." After I get my haircut, I can cross it off my projects list.
It sounds too simplistic, but I've already felt a great sense of relief in implementing the system.
- I'm more energized. You know how good you feel when you crank out a bunch of stupid errands? It's like that all of the time.
- I love lists, and it feels great to check things off of them! I've put my lists in Google Docs. for now (I didn't want to go crazy wasting paper).
- My files are now super-organized and clean (Allen recommends alphabetical filing).
- By clearing my head of all the little details that were swimming in there, I've been able to do some bigger-picture thinking and planning...like my brilliant idea (by the way, I've got my folks making lists of where they would like to move, and why!).
Give it a try! I'm anxious to see how it helps me once I'm back in school.