GTD Essentials You Need to Know


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GTD (put together by David Allen) is a way of vastly increasing your efficiency and freeing up mental space for intuitive, creative output.

This presentation collates all the essentials and more into an easy to read, comprehensive summary.

Contact me for support in getting GTD to work for you.

Published in: Business

GTD Essentials You Need to Know

  1. 1. Overview of the Getting Things Done (GTD) Productivity Model Sarah Olsen
  2. 2. Contents 2 Pages 1. Summary 3 2. What You Will Get 4-5 3. Pitfalls You Will Avoid 6 4. The 4 Key Principles for Effectiveness 7 5. The Context of Your Activity 8 6. The Secrets of Managing Workflow 9-10 6.1 Workflow Summary Diagram 11 6.2 Collect, 6.3 Process, 6.4 Organise, 6.5 Review, 6.6 Do 12-19 7. Additional Tips 20-24
  3. 3. 1. Summary • GTD is a popular productivity methodology created by David Allen ( • It is a useful, efficient and practical method of maximising effectiveness and results in the time you have • Used properly it will save you time and free you up to be more creative and less stressed • Ask me if you need further clarification 3
  4. 4. 2. What You Will Get The ability to: • Solve crises and take advantage of opportunities • Get control (fix the holes in the ship) then perspective (set the course) • Choose the right outcomes (what you want) & right actions (how you allocate resources) • Get a grip on it all; incorporate the big picture and the details • Manage commitments, multiple priorities and hundreds of inputs appropriately • Save time and effort; maximise efficiency • Minimise stress and clear the mind - enable your head to make intuitive choices and not store “stuff” 4
  5. 5. 2. What You Will Get (continued) • Let go of lower level thinking • Clarify internal agreements with yourself (e.g. to complete a task or project) so you can renegotiate them • Have a system which supplies reminders you need to see, when you need to see them so you can trust your choices about what to do and not do • The ability to switch off when you need to because you know 1. Where all your actionable items are located 2. What they are 3. That they will wait 5
  6. 6. 3. Pitfalls You Will Avoid • We keep things on our mind unconsciously all the time. Result: our mind is not clear and we consciously remember commitments at unhelpful times • Our to-do lists aren’t do-able • We do not decide the next action steps • We do not have everything in a system we review regularly • We do not do the knowledge work - thinking about our “stuff” and defining a) intended outcome and b) priority • We do not manage action. We attempt to manage time, information or priorities 6
  7. 7. 4. The 4 Key Principles for Effectiveness • Focus on outcomes  increased productivity so you can get done what really matters • Capture everything consciously (all actions, all projects, all Someday-Maybe (SDMB) items)  your head can be clean & clear • Clarify the next actions  do-able to-do list • Review regularly  you keep up to date, you build in both thinking time and prioritisation 7
  8. 8. 5. The Context: The 6 Level Model Clearly Define at all 6 Levels For > Clarity go up the model For > Action go down the model 1. Life (50,000 feet)- Why do you or your company exist? 2. 3-5 Year Vision (40,000 feet) - All your career or financial goals 3. 1-2 Year Goals (30,000 feet) - What you want to experience in 1-2 years 4. Areas of Responsibility( 20,000 feet) - Usually 5-15 categories or roles. E.g. for career one may be ‘strategic planning’, a personal one may be ‘health and fitness’ 5. Current Projects (10,000 feet) - Usually 30-100 projects. Any short-term outcome or result with > 1 step & < 1 year. E.g. organise event / buy car 6. Current Actions (runway) - Small, clear next steps E.g. phone A, email B 8
  9. 9. 6. The Secrets of Managing Workflow • Manage workflow at the level of current projects and current actions • Ensure you have applied the 4 principles 1. Clearly defined outcomes (at project level) 2. Everything captured with reminders in a trusted system 3. Next actions defined 4. Regular review and relaxed control 9
  10. 10. 6. The Secrets of Managing Workflow (continued) The essential activities to streamline your productivity for maximum effectiveness are: 1. Collect all your inputs (actions) 2. Process them 3. Organise them 4. Review them 5. Do them The next slide is a summary diagram The subsequent slides explain 1-5 above in more detail 10
  11. 11. 11 6.1 Workflow Summary Diagram
  12. 12. 6.1 Collect • Collect everything that commands your attention • i.e. 100% of what doesn’t belong the way it is, how it is or where it is, permanently • These are all the ‘In’s 12
  13. 13. 6.2 Process - Principles • Ask what it is and what to do about it • One at a time. An item never goes back ‘in’ • This is essential thinking & defining time • 99% of things will need more information so the action may be to draft ideas / call A for more information etc. • If delegating is appropriate, decide the best method - email / note / voice-mail / meet etc. 13
  14. 14. 6.2 Process – In Practice • Ask: Is it actionable? • If ‘No’ put it in: Trash / SDMB/ Reference. • If ‘Yes’, can you do it in < 2 mins (or 30 seconds if pushed for time or 5 minutes if more time)? • If so, do it now • If not, delegate (& add to Waiting (WF) list if it needs tracking) / defer to Next Actions or to Reminders if it needs doing on a specific day 14
  15. 15. 6.3 Organise • Don’t mix categories or you will go numb to piles of ‘stuff’ (e.g. don’t mix: ‘Read’ & ‘Reference’, action & a calendar entry, ‘SDMB’ or’ WF’ & rigorous action) • Calendar is sacred territory (for the day’s commitment / Reminder as a trigger to think about something, do something, start something / a deadline). No ‘Nice to’s’. Every other task is to be done asap and as a relative priority versus other tasks • Context (avoid a huge list needing resorting so you have fewer gear changes and more leverage) e.g. contexts can be Phone / PC / Errands / Home / Office / People / Read 15
  16. 16. 6.3 Organise (continued) • Email (if < 2 mins, do now / Trash / WF. If > 2 mins, it can be a deferred action in a separate email system or in your main system). You can leave email in your email in system in ‘buckets’ for daily review. Any time critical actions or actions to start on a certain date need to go into Reminders • Lists (you may need to keep some separate lists e.g. checklists). To work, these must be complete with appropriate content and accessible. • WF completes your inventory. It’s a trigger to chase or reminder to decide if you need to take action 16
  17. 17. 6.4 Review • Gives you options for what you choose to do from all your possible actions • Gives you an underlying sense of control • Gets your head out of lower level, easier mental tasks • Assures you it is okay to do what you are doing and not do what you are not doing • It is also the key to sustainability and pushing out of your comfort zone • You may need other lists to include in your review (e.g. fuzzier, more internal aims such as mind-set / commitments / areas of attention like ‘more exercise’, ‘team morale’) Result: “I absolutely know right now everything I am not doing but could be if I decided to” 17
  18. 18. 6.4 Review (continued) Examples of what you will need to review and when • Daily: calendar, action list when time • Weekly: all projects (ensure have action steps defined for all projects), all next actions, WF, bits of paper, calendar last this & next week. • Monthly: SDMB, bank statement etc. • Annually: all paper filing etc. Result: everything is reviewed so you are clean, clear, complete 18
  19. 19. 6.5 Do What you do depends on a combination of: 1. The context you are in (office, home, travelling) 2. The time you have 3. Your energy levels 4. Your priorities There are 3 principal ways of working: 1. Action predefined tasks 2. Action tasks as they show up 3. Define (time spent on process & organisation) 19
  20. 20. 7. Additional Tips Possible Categories in your System 7.1 Categories to do with Actions • Every project (and for each one either just the next action or if a bigger project, the next action plus link to Gantt Chart/project plan/supporting material) • All the contexts you need to be complete and organised in a way that works for you (e.g. a person such as ‘Boss’ or ‘Spouse’, a situation such as ‘Out of office’ or ‘Travel’, a ‘Read’ list or a type of task e.g. ‘Home Admin’, ‘Work Admin’, ‘Phone’) • Waiting For 20
  21. 21. 7. Additional Tips (continued) Possible Categories in your System 7.2 Categories to do with Organisation • Repeating list (to collect tasks which need doing at intervals which you will pick up in your review) • Review List (this is an option to tailor what you personally need to review and when. Having a list eliminates the need to remember or re-process) • Reference information (probably lots of separate categories and outside your main system but accessible if you need to refer to it frequently and clearly separate from actionable items) 21
  22. 22. 7. Additional Tips (continued) Possible Categories in your System 7.3 Other useful categories • ‘In’ (collect everything demanding your attention until you have time to process it) • Priority (the result of your daily review which contains only your immediate priority action) • Someday-Maybe (again may be several categories so you don’t need to reprocess e.g. ‘SDMB Books to read’ or ‘SDMB Places to visit’ etc.) 22
  23. 23. 7. Additional Tips (continued) Help with planning projects: The 5 Phases of Planning 1. Identify Project, Purpose & Principals 2. Identify Vision & Outcome 3. Brainstorm freely 4. Organise 5. Identify next actions 23
  24. 24. Contact me for more information and to implement this for you Sarah Olsen