Getting Things Done: A New Practice for a New Reality

This is the first entry in a fourteen part series discussing the time management classic Getting Things Done by David Allen. New entries in this series will appear on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings through July 16.

gtdThe first question a lot of people are going to ask is why am I writing a fourteen part series on a time management book on a personal finance website. Sure, there’s the obvious maxim that time is money, but what does that actually mean in people’s lives?

This book has changed my life radically over the past several years and has made my current life possible. The best way I can think of to explain how it has helped is to use my own life as an example, and so I’ll be doing that over and over again throughout this series.

Right now, I have three young kids at home that each require some time and focus and attention, as well as a wife and a marriage that need care and feeding. I have a writing career that involves having written two nonfiction books in the last two years (and working roughly on a third), writing short stories and polishing them for publication, and kicking around a novel. I also write two articles each day for The Simple Dollar, deal with the cavalcade of email and comments that produces, and manage advertisers and other demands related to that. In order to remain a good writer, I need to read quite a lot, too. I’m on multiple volunteer committees in the local community. My son is in a t-ball league, my son and daughter will soon be in a soccer league, and they’re both in a dance class. I share responsibility for maintaining the house with Sarah, with my part usually focusing on meal preparation (which I take pride in) and general cleanup. I have several friendships to maintain. Over the next three months, I have trips to Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Chicago, and Decorah (IA) planned. I also have a series of speaking engagements and book signings and other media appearances related to the book scheduled. I’m also learning the piano with weekly lessons and taking time to practice whenever I can.

Whew. How is all of that even possible? When I write it down, even I can scarcely believe that I pack it all in.

The thing is it’s not possible without a system of time management that actually works. If I didn’t have a good system in place, I simply wouldn’t be able to do all that stuff. Something would have to go, and it would hurt to remove any of it.

Allen sums this up pretty well on page four:

A paradox has emerged in this new millennium: people have enhanced quality of life, but at the same time they are adding to their stress levels by taking on more than they have resources to handle. It’s as though their eyes were bigger than their stomachs. And most people are to some degree frustrated and perplexed about how to improve the situation. [...] A major factor in the mounting stress level is that the actual nature of our jobs has changed much more dramatically and rapidly than have our training for and our ability to deal with work. In just the last half of the twentieth century, what constituted “work” in the industrialized world was transformed from assembly-line, make-it and move-it kinds of activity to what Peter Drucker has so aptly termed “knowledge work.”

Allen hits on two big factors here.

First, we tend to take on more than we can chew. Modern lives are so full of possibility that many people want to jam them full with as much as possible. We want a great job that pays well, but we also want the freedom to enjoy the rewards of all of that hard work. We feel personal responsibility towards causes, towards our family, and towards improving ourselves. Add that all together and you have days without much breathing room at all.

Another interesting factor is the blurred line between work and personal life. Many, many people are tethered to their jobs. Everyone who works at home, is self-employed, or runs a business can attest to this, as can anyone who carries a work cell phone with them everywhere they go and constantly receives calls about work-related issues. From a writer with a home office to a nurse constantly on call, we all have blurred lines between our work life and our personal life. We mix together work tasks and professional tasks constantly, like answering an urgent call during dinner with friends or picking up a birthday cake during our lunch break at work.

Allen argues that the most effective way to deal with all of this is to find ways to get the most done with minimal effort. He points to the idea of being “in the zone” – and reaching it as often as possible – as the key to success. On page 9:

There is a way to get a grip on it all, stay relaxed, and get meaningful things done with minimal effort, across the whole spectrum of your life and work. You can experience what the martial artists call a “mind like water” and top athletes refer to as the “zone,” within the complex world in which you’re engaged.

My days are pretty much constantly filled with being “in the zone” or trying to find a way to get there.

What exactly does that mean? I can’t really say what it means for others, but I certainly can describe what it’s like for me.

When I’m in the zone, I usually lose all track of time. That’s a big reason why I maintain my schedule electronically so that when an event occurs, it alerts me in various ways (usually a loud beep) to interrupt me and get me to my appointment. I also somewhat lose track of the mechanics of what I’m actually doing. So, for example, when I’m writing, I will lose all track of the fact that I’m sitting at a computer and typing. I get lost completely in the words and don’t notice anything else for long chunks of time. Also, when I pop out of the zone, I’m usually stunned at how much I’ve accomplished while in the zone compared to the amount of time that has passed.

In other words, when I’m in the zone, I’m incredibly productive, to the point that it’s very useful for me to arrange my other life activities to maximize the amount of time I’m in that state.

Thus, the best time management scheme would be one that is focused entirely on maximizing the amount of time I’m in the “zone.” And that’s exactly the point of Getting Things Done.

The entire idea rests on one core principle: dealing effectively with internal commitments. In other words, if something is on your mind, it’s going to make it much more difficult to get into that zone state. If you’re trying to remember the three things you need to get at the store and also remember to make it to your kid’s soccer game at 6, it’s going to be hard to drill down into the task you need to work on right now.

(There’s also another big factor here: the money. If you’re consistently able to get into “the zone,” you’re going to be much more productive and produce higher-quality stuff. This sets you directly up for better performance marks, pay increases, and the potential for better, higher-paying work. It can also make the non-professional elements of your life work much better – for example, practicing the piano works much better if I don’t have anything else on my mind.)

Allen touches on the basic requirements for managing commitments on page 13:

Managing commitments well requires the implementation of some basic activities and behaviors:

– First of all, if it’s on your mind, your mind isn’t clear. Anything you consider unfinished in any way must be captured in a trusted system outside of your mind, or what I call a collection bucket, that you know you’ll come back to regularly and sort through.

– Second, you must clarify exactly what your commitment is and decide what you have to do, if anything, to make progress toward fulfilling it.

– Third, once you’ve decided on all the actions you need to take, you must keep reminders of them organized in a system you review regularly.

In other words, if something’s on your mind, you need to get it out of your mind and into some sort of external system that you trust and that you review regularly. If you don’t, all the stuff you’re trying to keep in mind will make it harder for you to devote your maximum brainpower towards the task at hand, which is really needed to help you get into that “zone” state where your productivity goes up, your quality of work goes up, and your stress about it goes down.

The interesting thing, though, is that all of the stuff we store in our mind boils down to action. We keep facts in our mind to help us with a project (an action). We remember an appointment because we have to go to it (an action). We make a project plan so that we have an orderly flow of actions. It’s all about managing your actions – nothing more, nothing less.

Allen spells it out on page 19:

In training and coaching thousands of professionals, I have found that lack of time is not the major issue for them (though they themselves may think it is); the real problem is a lack of clarity and definition about what a project really is, and what the associated next-action steps required are. Clarifying things on the front end, when they first appear on the radar, rather than on the back end, after trouble has developed, allows people to reap the benefits of managing action.

The best way I can make this idea clear – and it’s a powerful idea – is to give you an example from my own life.

It’s 2:55 PM. I have an hour-long teleconference at 3 that I’m going to have to focus on. I also need to do a load of laundry, get supper started and in the oven, and get in some piano practice between now and five o’clock, when I have to go to a t-ball game. There is pretty much no way to slot in all of those projects because none of them fit before the conference call and the rest take more than an hour combined (and I have only an hour after the call), so something’s going to have to go.

Or is it? What I can do is simply identify the “next action” for each of these activities.

Finding the sheet music I want to practice with and setting it out on the keyboard is the next action for the piano practice, and it takes a minute or so.
Starting a laundry load, which is the next action in the “do laundry” project, takes about three minutes.
Pulling chicken out of the freezer and putting it on the counter to thaw is the next action for preparing supper, and it takes about thirty seconds.
My next action for the conference call is to get out my note-taking software and dial in. I focus entirely on the conference call and it’s over at four.
I then head downstairs and put the laundry in the dryer, the “next action” on the laundry project, taking about a minute.
I then walk straight to the keyboard, sit down, and am completely ready to begin banging out “Fur Elise,” which I do for twenty minutes or so.
I then go upstairs and proceed into the next action for making supper, in which I assemble a casserole and get it in the oven. It’s ready at 4:40 and the next action is to bake it, so I preheat the oven.
I then go downstairs and pull the clothes from the dryer, folding the items that need to be folded and changing my shirt, taking me until about 4:50.
I go back upstairs, where the oven is preheated, and put the casserole in the oven to bake while I’m at the t-ball game.
I walk out the door and drive to my son’s game, arriving on time with all of the projects completed.

By focusing on the “next action” and not stressing out on the projects as whole items, I was able to accomplish more than I thought.

It goes even further than that, as Allen explains on page 23:

For example, in the last few minutes, has your mind wandered off into some area that doesn’t have anything to do with what you’re reading here? Probably. And most likely where your mind went was to some open loop, some incomplete situation that you have some investment in. All that situation did was rear up out of your [short term memory] and yell at you, internally. And waht did you do about it? Unless you wrote it down and put it in a trusted “bucket” that you know you’ll review appropriately sometime soon, more than likely you worried about it. Not the most effective behavior: no progress was made, and tension was increased.

So, unless you have all of the things you need to do out of your head and somewhere else, the undone things interfere with your progress on the immediate action you’re tackling right now.

So, in that example above, if I don’t have a trusted system for getting all of those plans and next actions out of my head, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate well on that conference call because my mind would wander into those undone things. I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on my piano practice. I also wouldn’t be able to make a great supper for my family – I’d likely botch something while my brain wandered through the things I need to do.

If I know it’s all recorded and down on paper, my mind doesn’t wander. And if I’ve extracted the next action for each project I’m invested in, I don’t have to worry about those, either. I simply think about the item I’m tackling now on my current to-do list and nothing else has to eat up my focus. I can get in the zone when practicing the piano and really grow my playing skill. I can get in the zone on that conference call and wow the people I’m talking to, which helps my career.

Next time, we’ll look at the second chapter, which covers the five stages of mastering workflow – in other words, how exactly do you take the garbled collection of facts and ideas and things to do that eat up your short term memory and actually deal with them all in any sort of coherent way?

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  1. Melissa says:

    I am so pleased that you are doing this discussion. I have read GTD and somewhat begun, but I am ready to re-read and really commit. Perfect timing for me.

  2. Matt says:

    Trent – Great post about a great book. Nothing really to comment on other than to say great job with your site, I have to say that more than almost any other blog I read I find myself finishing an article you wrote and thinking “wow that was very insightful, who can I forward this too.” The in depth review of Getting Things Done just being the latest example. Thanks for the hard work.

  3. Sara says:

    This is nit-picky, but I’m nervous about your cooking if that example was pulled from real life. Both thawing meat on the counter (rather than in the fridge) and leaving the oven on while you are out of the house are dangerous!

  4. Julia says:

    Thanks for writing this series, Trent.
    I like that example. It’s actually quite similar to situations I get into over and over again. I read the first part of GTD, but didn’t interpret it that way. I’m still thinking “Do laundry” as an all day task, and I occasionally notice when the dryer buzzes and remember to switch the load.
    Thanks again. I look forward to the next one.

  5. Stephan F- says:

    I tried GTD and while it has very useful elements, taking all those things into account generates a huge pile of tracking material when you write it all down.
    I try to stay in flow as long as I can but I drop out of it and then do a few or a bunch of items then head back to flow space.
    For laundry I just note the buzzer and move it around next time I get a break.

  6. Rob says:

    I’m looking forward to this series. I’ve read GTD and when I’m following it well, it’s amazing what I can accomplish. These are points to be touched on as the book goes on, but I’ve found two things that MUST be done to stay in the “flow”:
    1 – Ubiquitous capture. The “collection bucket” has to be at hand *and used* every time something comes to mind.
    2 – Weekly review. I invariably drift off course when I don’t set aside this time each week.

    Again, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this, Trent. Maybe I can use this as a little motivation to get back on the wagon.

  7. deb says:

    I have the book and have listened to the audio version. But I get stuck on writing EVERYTHING down. All those next actions you mentioned – do you actually write them all down? Or do you write:

    Make dinner
    Practice piano
    Do conference call

    I work at home as you do, so I juggle laundry, dinner, customers, updating the website, phone calls, etc. too. But I can’t see spending precious time very day writing “take laundry out of washer and put in dryer”.

    FWIW, I thaw chicken on the counter sometimes and leave the house with the oven on too. Done reasonably and with care it’s ok.

  8. Mary says:

    Thanks – I like your “layman’s” view of GTD.

  9. Bill says:

    I miss Johanna, I have noticed your comment’s per post have nose dived and I’m sure your page views will fallow.

  10. Angie says:

    Did Johanna get banned? I liked the counter-point she provided, even if I didn’t always agree with her.

  11. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I didn’t ban Johanna. She’s probably on vacation or something, and if she is, I hope she’s having a grand old time.

    After years of having her comment, I would think it would be clear by now that I don’t ban people and I actually appreciate her comments. She’s a well-spoken contrarian.

    I’m kind of mystified why anyone would insinuate that I ban people, given the large amounts of contrary opinion that constantly float through the comments.

  12. We are in the day where people struggle with getting things done in a timely fashion

  13. Christy says:

    Wonderful post! I am also a David Allen fan and look forward to hearing more of your story as you implement his strategies. In my own life I have tweaked some of his strategies and wonder if you have done the same.

  14. Bill says:

    @11 Trent,

    I hope you are right, I’ve read long enough to see multiple anti Johanna post’s. She always makes me think.

  15. Sheila says:

    It’s fascinating to read about how you’re applying GTD to your daily life — that does so much more for me than simply reading a basic review. I had read the book a while ago but got bogged in the charts and details. I’m hoping that your review of it will give me a new way to apply it in my life.

    I’m wondering, though, if there is any mention in the book of how and when to eliminate things from your schedule? I think that my problem isn’t just the way I allot my time but also having too many things on my plate that aren’t really that important.

  16. Ly-ann says:

    I just wanted to say, that a review of GTD is welcomed – I read it while back and now cannot imagine my life without such a system. But once in awhile, its great to refresh on the parts that you let slip. Eg. on reading your post, i realized I hadn’t been breaking up ALL my tasks into actionable terms and as a result somethings have let slip. The other thing though that I’ve been struggling with is remembering to keep my eye on my GTD list (I use RTM).

    After reading 4hrworksweek, I’ve also come to a place where reading my To-Do list is like reading my email – I only do it 2 times a day. After experimenting I’m beginning to think I need to do that more…. your thoughts?

  17. cv says:

    @#7 deb, for me the big help from GTD is not writing down those sorts of detailed steps, but more to start thinking of bigger projects as a series of small actions that don’t all necessarily need to be done in one uninterrupted session. It also really helps me when I have a task on my to-do list that I’ve been avoiding, because I stop to think about how to break it down into discrete smaller actions.

  18. Jules says:

    I keep my browser open all day at work, so I use the Task List on iGoogle (my default homepage in Chrome–yes, I use Chrome).

  19. Susan says:

    This post makes me chuckle because this is the sort of thing women have been doing for years, unheralded and unwritten, but now that you and an increasing number of other men are working from home, it’s being treated as a great revelation.
    “NEW merging of work and homelife”? Come on. Ask any mother who works for a paycheck if there’s a difference (And she’s picking up way more than just a birthday cake on her lunch hour. Again, nothing new.). But welcome to the club, boys- always nice to have the help!
    Have you checked out http://www.flylady.net for their control journal (a one-stop shop for family schedule, documents, etc? great for when one spouse is sick or, god forbid, you need to take a child to the ER).

  20. Rebecca says:

    I am so glad you are doing this series. I am hooked after this first post and your “real life” examples are perfect. They make so much sense to reinforce the idea for the book. Thanks again for your clarity

  21. deRuiter says:

    Dear Trent, Please spend a little time during your busy day editing and polishing your writing! It’s not, “which I take pride in”. “In” is a preposition which belongs at the beginning of a phrase (“pre” stands for “before”). Should be “in which I take pride.” This post could have been a bit shorter and tighter.

  22. Shannan says:

    Hey Trent, I have been looking forward to your GTD discussion series :)

    And excellent example! I have seen many conceptual discussions on how the smaller chunks of action can be so useful, but I don’t recall reading any other examples that sufficiently highlight such benefits!

    I am curious as to what point in the example do you refer back to your system to determine your next action? It is all decided when you realise you have 5 minutes to spare? Or are you constantly referring back to your system somehow?

    Cheers,
    Shannan
    (Artist & Maze Architect)

  23. rhymeswithlibrarian says:

    deRuiter: Please don’t believe everything your grade 9 English teacher told you! Language is constantly evolving, and the rules of English grammar are defined by current common usage, not by commn usage in the past or by what etymology suggests a word “should” mean.

    The grammar rule you’re referring to has become obsolete in spoken and informal written English; ending a sentence or clause with a preposition is very common and does not interfere with comprehension. It is appropriate to write “which I take pride in” in all but the most formal documents.

    Not convinced? Look at your own post – there are a few things that you wouldn’t write in a formal setting like a job cover letter, but are perfectly appropriate for an online comment. (I’m speaking of the lack of a blank line between “Dear Trent,” and your opening sentence, and your use of a sentence fragment “Should be….” instead of “It should be…” I’m NOT saying these two things are mistakes on your part – I’m saying that they are examples of how usages your grade 9 English teacher would object to are actually fine in informal writing.

  24. Sandy Cooper says:

    Trent,

    I am extremely detail oriented by nature. Thus, if I start to write down each and every thing I have to do in a day, I tend to get buried in the details and feel tethered to my list. Though, I have found value in writing the big things down.

    I also value a degree of sponteneity while I’m raising my children. All my tasks may fit perfectly “on paper,” but detailed, to-the-minute time-management rarely works in a home where little kids need boo-boos kissed and bottoms wiped. I can’t always predict when a child will need me for whatever reason. And the last thing I want to do is make a child feel like he or she is equal in value to thawing chicken or switching the laundry.

    I’m constantly looking for ways to improve my efficiency and productivity, but also feel challenged to embrace the moment with the people in my life–a task which can rarely be relegated to a bucket.

    Looking forward to the rest of this series.

    Blessings,
    Sandy

    p.s. I have both thawed chicken on the counter and run the oven while at a ball game. No harm done.

  25. Catherine says:

    PLEASE – do not thaw chicken (or any meat) on the counter!!!! If you need to defrost quickly, place the unopened package in a bowl/sink of cold water to cover and change the water once per hour. Or just use the microwave defrost cycle.

  26. Angie says:

    Didn’t mean to offend. I just haven’t read the blog in awhile and thought I missed an incident or something.

  27. GayleRN says:

    There are some appliances that should never be on when there is not a human present, a dryer and an oven are two of them. I was also taught this about irons, even though they now have auto shut offs. Maybe we should run this past the fire marshall for an opinion. Or your insurance agent.

  28. christine a says:

    seconding rhymeswithlibrarian: if you can see typos/grammatical errors in the blog you’re probably reading it too slowly – speed up and you’ll read what you expect to see.

  29. There are a lot of practices that people do that could have a negative or positive effect. Sometime it is really important to find a new draft of practice to be able to do things differently. This article is great because it will allow to realize and help you pick a new practice that will be able to help you change old practices.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Alex

  30. Ashley says:

    Trent, I’m curious about what you do when a more complex idea pops into your head while you’re doing something else.

    For instance, if while you’re playing piano you suddenly think, “Oh, I need to call so-and-so when I finish this,” it’s easy to make a note and go back to piano practice. But what if, while you’re playing, a paragraph for an article pops into your head, or a solution to a complex problem you’ve had brewing into the back of your mind? I know from experience that not writing literary ideas when I get them means losing them, but so often one paragraph leads to another and then piano practice time is over.

    Does this ever happen to you, and if so, how do you deal with it?

  31. Ed says:

    I read this book a little over a year ago, and I really enjoyed it. There’s a key point I must be missing though. I hope someone can shed some light on it for me. I understand the system, but I get bogged down feeling like I will spend all my time and energy writing everything down to record it in the system. So…instead of constantly thinking about open loops, I am constantaly recording next actions and making new projects. What is the solution to this? When and where is the proper time and place to record a thought and then move on? I could spend all day every day recording my thoughts and never get anything done. -Thanks!

  32. jessamy says:

    I just read your first article on the time management series in the Christian Science Monitor. I feel as if I’ve just learned to swim. Thank you. I look forward to the next one. I have marked it in my calendar. Now I will forget you until next time, but that doesn’t mean that I am not grateful. mj

  33. Jane says:

    You can leave meat out to thaw if the house is cool (I keep my house very cool during winters). I don’t leave it out if it is warm in the kitchen – you can thaw a frozen turkey in the kitchen sink overnight for example during November here (we’re in the midwest)and it won’t spoil. I’m sure Trent uses common sense and knows what he’s doing:)

  34. princess_peas says:

    I enjoyed this review and I am looking forward to the rest of the series. However, I have one question about the whole princicple the book is designed upon, this of getting things out of your head; it sounds like it will work really well for the purposes it intends to , ie, clearing the brain to enable getting in the zone. But, and the emphasis is here, over the long term, doesn’t this mean that you are teaching yourself not to rely on your own brain? Several years later, haven’t you lost the ability to remember apointments or to do lists without the use of your external system, whatever that is? Which means that, apart from tweaks you make along the way, you are tying yourself to this system for the rest of your life?

    Now you might weigh up the options and decide its a fair exchange. But te above reasons are why I was taught that writing things in a calandar is a bad thing.

  35. jgonzales says:

    I read half of GTD before I returned it. It was good, but I’m in the middle of moving & I don’t want to lose it. What I read reminded me a lot of FlyLady, which I’ve been following for years (mentioned in post 19, if you want a link). I am interested to see the rest of this series and see if there is more that I didn’t get to.

  36. Kara says:

    @#19 Susan- I love flylady!! It has really helped me break things into smaller tasks.. amazing how much you can get done in 15min!

  37. Adam P says:

    Hey Trent. Thanks for this review series, I have picked up the book on your advice and many others, but not read it yet. I’m off to Bermuda for some R&R next weekend though and I’m going to bring it with me (thanks to this little reminder you posted).

  38. Malisa says:

    Good timing for me too. I’ve been on-again, off-again with GTD and I’m working on tightening up my system…again. It’s my first free day of summer vacation (teacher) and I spent part of my day collecting and doing a partial, long overdue review of my system. I’ve bounced back and forth between paper and digital and still don’t think I’ve quite got THE system. I look forward to a weekly dose of GTD here.

  39. Malisa says:

    Oops. Bi-weekly. :)

  40. Danielle says:

    I used this technique today! As I was making dinner I kept thinking of washing the dishes that were piling up. I got the dishwater ready instead of just watching the dishes pile up and getting frustrated. I am really looking forward to this series.

  41. This is a great forum for a book on time management, because good time management is eessential for people who want to make extra money in their lives.

    Pre-planning helps me manage my time very efficiently. Usually s few moments at the end of each day planning out the next day does the trick for me

  42. austere says:

    This was excellent.

    Will try and reach for the zone, though usually I don’t.

    More, please.

  43. AmyG says:

    I need all the help I can get with time management, so thanks for the GTD review series, Trent.

  44. Aaron says:

    I actually just reviewed this book a few days ago, after finally finishing it!

    http://blog.amhill.net/2010/05/25/book-review-getting-things-done/

    Do you have any pointers for non-Executives to implement the system and get started?

  45. Michele says:

    Trent – thanks for this review. I embraced the GTD system about a year or so ago, and it started off well, but I feel like my projects list has grown but it’s tough working on keeping my next actions organized. Looking forward to seeing how you and others use the system.

    I keep a Franklin Covey binder with multiple tabs for each of my lists (projects, at home, at computer, someday/maybe, agendas, etc.). I’ve also tried managing this online at rememberthemilk.com.

    Any hints from others will be greatly appreciated.

  46. Maria says:

    Hi Trent, Thanks for doing a deep dive into GTD, I look forward to more real-life examples of how you use the tools. I read it awhile back based off of your frequent mention of the book, and there is a lot of useful material that I now use. I work in a profession that requires a high level of time and physical document management, and what I’ve realized over time is that people are not generally taught how to prioritize their time and be an overall organized person. There’s the attitude that being organized is only based on personality–but I think that organization can be learned (as with GTD). I feel like these types of tools could be taught to children early on to increase their opportunities for success. The same goes for financial management tools–I could have used a lot more than learning to balance a checkbook!

    Do you plan on teaching your kids some of the skills laid out in GTD? (Or are you already doing so?) I’m curious what your take is on teaching children these skills in conjunction with other educational endeavors. I plan on doing so when I have children, as I think it would have made a world of difference for me as a lifelong learner if I had learned some of these skills early on.

    Thanks!

  47. Kathy says:

    If you like GTD, you may also be interested in a book called “Take Back Your Life” by Sally McGhee and John Wittry. In many ways it takes GTD to the next level and provides a way to apply its principles and set the system up in Microsoft Outlook. It takes a bit of time to think things through and set it up, but once thats done its great.

  48. Fawn says:

    #21– Really?! Get over yourself!

    I am really looking forward to these articles. I already do some things to keep my productivity up when working on my To-Do lists. I put them in order that they need to be done (have to pick things up before you can vacuum the floors, etc.)and then break them down, listing the important points. I have A.D.D. and get distracted easily, so I tend to loose focus.:D Sometimes I go on a cleaning blitz, which consists of me running around like a crazy lady and doning things way out of order. (taking a glass into the kitchen while cleaning up the living room leads to cleaning up something in the kitchen, etc.) I do get a lot accomplished and get in the zone, so I guess it isn’t such a bad thing. It might make an organized person go crazy watching! ;)

    Looking forward to more!

  49. Kristie Ryan says:

    Hello Trent,

    I am so looking forward to this! My boyfriend picked up a copy of this book a couple months ago and said he never got into it. He referred me to your blog (which he loves) and says the way you explain it makes it so much easier and practical.

    I myself am in need of a time management system desperately as I have so much I want to do and am hoping this will help.

    Can’t wait!

    Kristie Ryan

  50. Allison says:

    Ok, I am slow in making a comment only because I am reading and re-reading this series. Wow. Awesome, Trent. You’ve explained GTD in a way I just COULDN’T get before. I did GTD a couple of years ago and spent WAY too much time organizing THE LIST (going from in to context to next-action, finding the right program to process… really, it was just ridiculous. Admittedly, I am a bit OCD about lists and organization, but I truly got NOTHING done. So I recognize I didn’t fully grasp how it was supposed to work.

    YOU, however, make PERFECT sense and I am anxious to try again!

    What I still don’t get, though, and was a big stumbling block to me before, is how much truly needs to be captured.

    In your example here, with the chicken and the laundry and the piano playing — is there anything in there you really took the time to jot down?? Much less to PROCESS it? Or was that purely an example in how you can go from thing to thing but still be in the zone about it? There wasn’t a thing in that afternoon of doing that I would have written down. Now, during the dinner prep or folding laundry or practicing the piano, something ELSE may have come to mind (an email I needed to send, a call I needed to make) and I would have written THAT down.

    I SO want to understand this.

    Trent, your GTD series is incredible. Truly. Thanks.

  51. Thanks for sharing your rich experience. I will definitely read this book, and continue reading your articles, they are very useful for me since i am working on my first own business.
    thank you!
    Sandra

  52. Thanks for all the advices you share with us.
    In this article your can realize and help you change the point of view and change ancient practices.

    Thank you for sharing!!

  53. I’ve experimented with the Pomodoro technique. Its central premise is that you’ll be more productive and less streesed by being able to focus without interuption on one single task for 25 min, then take a 5 min break before starting again. I’ve heard good things about GTD and would definately love reading a copy.

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