My Quick Guide to GTD
I’ve read Getting Things Done several times, and like many people I get different things out of it each time. There are parts of the book that make my eyes roll and help when I have difficulty sleeping, but I normally am reading it to reinforce the basics of the system, the nuts and bolts of the whole idea. Here is what I feel they are, and what I think most people feel they are:
- Capture everything on a single set of lists, and review it once a week.
- Find and use a trusted system – which needs to be simple.
- Have clear, written goals
- Get to work.
Capture Everything on a Single Set of Lists
No matter what you big picture, blue sky ideas you took away from the book, the big idea is that no matter what it is that has control on you, you need to write it down. It’s simple. One list, a few categories, and off you go. Get things off your mind and in a list. Keep one, that has everything. Categorize as needed. Seriously, that is the big key, the thing to take away. Do that, and you are 90% there. Review your lists every week, and make sure everything is on them. It sounds so simple, but it is the most important part of the whole system.
Find and Use a Trusted System
Find a trusted system and use it. If it doesn’t work, find another (but I will warn you about the danger of the exploration trying to find one). Pick one, use it religiously.
Have Clear Written Goals
Goal setting is not some bizarre alchemy. It is not a super-secret skill that you have to hike up a mountain to get from a reclusive monk. It is a simple process that helps you set out what you want to accomplish, and how. Go on to the net to find lots of sites that will help you. Whether you use 1, 3 and 5 year goals, or the Horizons of Focus idea, is up to you, but honestly it is a wonderful skill that is not as complex or mysterious as you might fear.
Get to Work
There is no system that will do your work for you. Having clear goals gives you things to work for. Capturing your work helps you to define your work. But nothing will do it for you, you have to do it yourself.
This distills the most important information that I’ve taken, time after time, from the GTD system. Honestly, there are so many things in the book, it’s easy to get mired in some of the more esoteric parts like mind mapping. I hope it helps clarify what the biggest parts of the book are.