Getting Things Done

For those of you who know of David Allen and his seminars on “Getting Things Done fast!” – skip this post.  Those of you that have no idea what I am talking about, or like me, have only just heard about this, might want to read on.

As far as GTD is concerned, I cannot take any credit, and this blog post is solely for the purpose of passing on the good word.  So what is GTD, and why the hype?

We now find ourselves smack in the middle of “Information Age.” Information is power and the world has gone nuts in striving to feed people with more and more productive information.  Connectivity barriers crash down as a slue of technologies allow us to receive emails, voice calls, and even faxes in remote locations.  What do our brains make of this constant stream of readily available data? 

David Allen invented GTD, in 2001, as a series of steps to empower busy people with the tools to handle the constant bombardment of information and tasks.

Until I started reading David’s book, it never occurred to me that the brain may have a fixed capacity, and the fuller it becomes the more stresses I experience. David’s methodology for “Getting Things Done” aims to show us how to better deal with information overload and avoiding stress so we can be more cognitive and productive. The following are a few points I picked up from the first few chapters:

Work is not just the office – David defines “work” as anything not done.  If you leave the office and then come home to a list of chores – this is work, and it needs doing.

Work falls into one of two states – “doing,” or “done.” The idea is to get to the “done” stage.

Projects – consist of any outcome that requires multiple completed tasks to consider the overall task as done.

The Brain becomes cluttered with many tasks – this causes stress, and every task filling time in your brain is an uncollected, unorganized task that owns a piece of you.  Learn to dump tasks from “brain RAM” to persistent storage in the form of lists.

For each new task/project consider:  What is the desired outcome?  What is the next step?  The act of “doing” is about determining the single next step.  “Done” is the desired outcome – the goal.

GTD consists of the following five phasesCollect things that require attention, Process what they mean and what to do with them, Organize the results, Review what we choose to do, and Do the next step.

Anything not collected and organized is considered “stuff” –  Stuff causes stress and anxiety because it resides in your short term memory and reminds you constantly that there is something you have not done.  This clouds your brain and prevents free and clear thinking for more productive purposes.

Dump everything on your mind – No matter how small or big, or wether work or personal – dump everything on your mind to paper or some sort of list (this is not a task list) so that you can free brain RAM to better process what needs doing next.

As of writing this I am not as yet done reading David’s book and have followed the exercise of dumping the contents of my brain to a single list.  As I read more of the book I shall report more progress and tips to “Getting Things Done Fast.”