in Productivity, Time Management & Efficiency — 9 min read

office desk prepared for getting things done (gtd meaning)

If you ask almost any American worker what their greatest challenge is, there’s a good chance they’ll tell it’s something related to productivity. In fact, six out of 10 Americans report finding it difficult to keep up with the day-to-day tasks related to their jobs.

If you fall into this category, it’s likely you could benefit from a new way of doing things. One way that works well for a lot of people is the GTD (short for Getting Things Done) approach.

Not sure of the details of the GTD meaning? Don’t know how you can make it work for you? Read on to learn everything you need to know about getting things done and the ins and outs of the GTD method.

GTD Meaning: The Basics

Let’s start with the basics of the GTD meaning.

Getting Things Done is a unique time management technique created by David Allen. Allen first coined the term back in 2001, but this approach to productivity and time management has stuck around for nearly two decades and is used worldwide.

When you follow the GTD methodology, you have a framework that helps you to organize and track all the tasks on your to-do list. It’s about more than just writing down everything you need to accomplish in a day. It also helps you provide context to your ideas and get them out of your head so you can deal with them when the time is right.

Benefits of the GTD Approach

There are lots of benefits you can enjoy when you follow this approach. Here are some of the greatest benefits GTD has to offer:

Less Stress

When you have a clear framework for getting things out of your head and organizing your ideas, a natural side effect is that you feel less stressed.

It can be incredibly draining to try and keep track of everything you need to do in a day, as well as the ideas that pop up that can help you perform your job better or handle other aspects of your life with more ease. When you’re able to capture and organize all of this, you’ll feel more at peace and have confidence that everything is accounted for.

More Clarity

The GTD approach provides you with more clarity, too. When you’ve written down all your tasks and ideas and can see them in front of you, it’s easier to prioritize your responsibilities and gain a better understanding of what needs to get done and when.

Better Brain Power

If you don’t have a lot of mental clutter, you’ll likely find that you can perform better at work. You’ll have an easier time focusing on the task at hand and won’t have any niggling worries in the back of your mind since you’ll have already got everything out and created a plan.

Freedom of Choice

The great thing about GTD is that it gives you plenty of freedom and flexibility.

You get to do decide which tasks are the most important ones and which ones don’t require your attention at all. You can also combine GTD with other time management or organization techniques to create a customized approach.

GTD provides structure and clarity, but it’s not so rigid that you’ll feel boxed in.

Tips for Getting Started

Okay, at this point, you’re probably pretty interested in how you can start implementing GTD into your workflow. Start by taking these steps:

Capture

The first part of the GTD methodology is capture. This step is all about capturing or collecting everything that’s demanding your attention. When you complete this step, you take control of what’s on your mind, whether it’s work-related, a memory, or an errand you have to run later.

To complete this step, find a capture method that works for you. It might involve writing everything down in a notebook, typing it up in a note-taking app, or even drafting an email to yourself. It doesn’t matter which approach you use; just make sure you’re capturing everything, no matter how trivial it may seem.

Clarify

Next, it’s time to clarify and process what you’ve captured.

Take a look at what you’ve written or typed and ask yourself if it’s actionable. If something is actionable, it’s something that you need to respond to or do something about.

A thought about needing to send a report to your boss is an actionable item. A thought about how much you enjoyed that stir-fry you had for dinner last night is not.

Organize

Once you’ve clarified, it’s time to organize. This involves putting things in their proper place.

If there’s a deadline taking up space in your mind, write it down on your calendar so you don’t forget about it. If you’ve been thinking that you need to pick up an item for dinner tonight, put it on your grocery list.

It helps to add context to the things you’ve written down, too. For example, if something has to do with your home or personal life, designate it as “home”. If something is work-related, designate it as “work”.

Reflect

Reflection is a key component of GTD. Reflection involves taking time to review your lists and calendars and making adjustments to them as needed. A good approach to this is to conduct a weekly review. Weekly reviews give you a chance to clear up what you’ve written down and prevent things from piling up on your plate. Without regular weekly reviews, you won’t enjoy the stress-relieving, clarity-providing benefits GTD has to offer. This free GTD Weekly Review Check List may give you a better idea on how to structure that review.

Weekly reviews also fit perfectly into the PPP methodology. This methodology is comprised of three categories: progress, plans, and problems. During your weekly review, you can celebrate your accomplishments (tasks you’ve completed), make plans for upcoming tasks, and address problems, such as tasks that can’t be completed or that require outside help.

Engage

The last step is to engage. In short, this means following through with the GTD framework. If you’ve taken the time to set up a system and complete the other steps, this one will be easy to do.

Start Getting Things Done Today

As you can see, there are a lot of benefits that come from trying the GTD approach. Now that you have a better understanding of the GTD meaning and how to start utilizing it, it’s time to take action.

Give these tips a try today to see how the GTD method works for you. You may find that weekly reviews and the other aspects of this method are exactly what you need to stay focused on your goals and cross items off your to-do list in a timely manner. You can also check out these GTD apps for yourself or your team. Or if you are looking to use GTD for status reporting, check out our free GTD template in Google Sheets.