What does the Getting Things Done method have to teach you? – WAU

Undoubtedly you have already realized that, in today’s world, we are always running to try to do more and more chores. Is it like that in your life? There are so many projects and commitments that we wish the day to be longer, isn’t it? Even when we meet friends, it is common for everyone to comment that they are running a lot, […]

Undoubtedly you have already realized that, in today’s world, we are always running to try to do more and more chores. Is it like that in your life? There are so many projects and commitments that we wish the day to be longer, isn’t it?

Even when we meet friends, it is common for everyone to comment that they are running a lot, with no time for anything. However, even those people who have more free time are often dissatisfied with their productivity. After all, when there is time, there is also procrastination.

So, how to deal with managing our time and our activities? Is there a way to handle everything? That’s what the GTD method is for. It was created to help people to organize themselves better in all areas of life and, consequently, to feel more satisfied and happy.

Do you want to better understand what the GTD method is and what can we learn from it? So, let’s go!

What is the GTD method?

GTD is an acronym for Getting Things Done and consists of a widely tested methodology that allows people to regain control of their daily lives, organizing their chores and living a more conscious life.

In other words, GTD is a personal productivity tool. The method, created by David Allen, was first presented in 2001, in the book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”. In London, the work is called “The Art of Making It Happen – Strategies to Increase Productivity and Reduce Stress”.

GTD philosophy

Contrary to what can be imagined at first, the GTD proposes to be much more than a task organizer. The method offers a system that helps to bring mental clarity, space to think and awareness to make decisions. All this through the correct storage of all processes, giving the user access to the necessary information at the moment he needs it.

More than managing projects, the GTD provokes people to pay attention to a series of fundamental issues and areas of human life, bringing psychological balance and well-being. One of the goals is to allow the unconscious to be free to create new ideas and opportunities.

How does GTD work?

GTD is far from being a miracle method that organizes anyone’s life overnight. And, in fact, this is one of its main qualities. The user needs to be involved in learning the principles and foundations of the methodology. As a result, adaptation is gradual and tends to be much more solid and permanent.

In practice, the GTD starts with the construction of the mindset, that is, of a propitious mental model for the method to be successfully applied. In this first moment, we are invited to know and get used to four principles (we will talk about them below).

After that, it is already possible to proceed to the 5 steps of the GTD, which represent the implementation of the method itself. They are: Collect or Capture; Process or Clarify; Organize; Reflect or Review; Do or Engage. We will also cover each of these steps in more detail later in the article.

Mindset: what are the 4 principles of the method?

1. The brain was not made to store information

This is the first big idea advocated in the GTD. Instead of using our mind to keep information, we must store that data elsewhere to free up space. So we can use the brain to come up with new ideas, make decisions and execute projects.

2. Mind like water

The second principle of GTD came from martial arts. A mind that is like water is always adapting. When you put water in a jar, it takes the shape of the jar; by pouring it into a bottle, it takes on the shape of the bottle.

Ideally, our mind should develop the same capacity. Daily, we go through challenges that we have never faced before and, therefore, we need to be focused to be able to adapt to them. If we work at the same time that we are concerned with a family problem, for example, it will be much more complex to act like water.

3. Internal agreements

The third idea of ​​the GTD methodology brings together the previous points. She argues that the best way to stay engaged with tasks is to get them out of your head. When we do that, we gain perspective and can be more aware of what still needs to be done and why something is being done.

4. Broad perspective vs. Practical details

The fourth principle preaches the balance between our most important goals (life mission, purpose, spiritual goals, etc.) and practical execution on a daily basis. The greater our organization in everyday tasks, the greater our ability to see life from a broad perspective, bringing a deeper meaning to our existence.

What are the GTD’s steps in practice?

Step 1: Collect or Capture

The first when implementing the GTD methodology is to collect everything that requires our attention, dividing these issues into some key places.

  • Email inbox;
  • Physical inbox (for papers, messages, business cards, etc.);
  • Digital inbox (for digital files).

In short, everything that requires attention must be collected and processed. This is the practical basis of GTD that allows freeing up space in the mind, bringing more clarity and focus on the present.

Step 2: Process or Clarify

The next step in the system is to clarify what should be done with the items previously captured. At this point, we must ask ourselves, “Does this item require any action?”

If the answer is no, the item must be classified as:

  • Garbage (thrown away or deleted);
  • Incubate (inserted in the “Someday / Maybe” list);
  • Reference / File (to be consulted).

If the answer is yes, the item can be classified into:

  • Project (everything that requires more than one action);
  • Do it now (everything that takes less than two minutes to complete);
  • Delegate (everything that can be done by other people);
  • Calendar (everything that has a specific date or time to be done);
  • To-do list (items that must be done, but do not have a specific date).

Step 3: Organize

After assigning a place for each item, it’s time to insert notes to make everything clear. It is possible to organize the activities that must be done in person, those that need internet and so on.

It is also interesting to use tags (labels) that make it easier to find references, in addition to determining the amount of time each item requires to be completed.

Step 4: Reflect or Review

The fourth step of the GTD system is to review the different lists at least once a week. Many adepts of the methodology like to make the revisions on Fridays, leaving everything prepared for the following week (and creating mental space to enjoy the weekend).

Before starting a review, it is important to process items that are still in your inboxes. Then, it is valid to check the schedule of appointments and the list of “Sometime / Maybe”, checking if any of the items should be moved to another list.

Likewise, it is useful to look at the “Projects” list to plan the week ahead and the “Delegate / Waiting for Response” list. Finally, just prioritize the “To-do list” in the way that seems most advantageous.

Step 5: Make or Engage

The fifth and final step of the GTD method is to put the tasks into practice. Here the practitioner can either perform tasks on their own or engage people to whom the items have been delegated.

And the levels of the methodology?

Ground level

It aims to put life in order. The ideal is to start to understand the method, read the book and start the organization within the five steps.

Level 1: Projects

This is the time for theorganize projects that are in progress or that may happen. At this level, the user of the method can consider everything that will be done within one week to one year, on average.

Level 2: Focus areas

From that point on, he began to organize his life according to the different responsibilities: financial, health, home, family, work, studies, spirituality, etc. It can be very useful to use a mind map to visualize everything more clearly.

Level 3: Goals from 0 to 2 years

Once your life is organized, it becomes much easier to set goals that can bring personal and professional fulfillment. At this level, the GTD practitioner can check everything that must be done in up to 2 years to assist in the evolution in different areas of focus.

Level 4: Vision of 3 to 5 years

Similar to the previous level, but here the focus is on a longer term. These objectives can be reviewed at least once a year.

Level 5: Purpose / Life

This level brings a broader and deeper perspective on life. Here, one must answer questions such as: “Why do I exist?” and “What projects and areas of focus reflect my values?”. Level 5 is related to personal purpose or mission – that purpose will be the basis for decision making.

After implementing the five stages of organization and the five levels, the practitioner of the GTD method has more personal and professional fulfillment, since all his activities are aligned with his values, mission and vision.

To make this possible in practice, it is always useful to review the teachings on mindset (which are the basis of the method). Thus, it is possible to get closer and closer to having a mind like water, that is, able to adapt to any circumstance in life.