• Subha

GTD 101: Getting Things Done

Updated: Jan 25


David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done: The Art Of Stress-Free Productivity.”

For a lot of us, the past year was all about survival, hanging in there, and being able to do “just enough.” A lot of aspirations got placed on the back burner. If the events of 2020 derailed even your best-laid intentions of taking productivity to the next level, you are certainly not alone!


It’s a new year now, and thoughts and intentions are shifting from “doing just enough” to “how to thrive more.” If that’s you, this article is for you!


Enter GTD


GTD, i.e., Getting Things Done, is a “personal productivity methodology” developed by American productivity consultant David Allen that is designed to redefine how you approach your life and work.


David Allen's ideas have become hugely popular and successful. The essence is in this one beautiful line:

“Your mind is made for having ideas, not for holding ideas.”

GTD is based on five principles that help bring order to the chaos of everyday life:

  1. Capture: Collecting and collating what has your attention into some sort of collection tool.

  2. Clarify: Process what it all means and determine its actionability (be realistic here!) Does it require more than one action to accomplish? Can you form a plan? If it is not actionable, it needs to be either trashed, marked as a reference, or put on hold.

  3. Organise: Put things where they belong.

  4. Reflect: Review it frequently: Is there another approach? Have the circumstances changed to allow another stab at it? Does it need to be reassigned? Regain your control and focus.

  5. Engage: You now have a trusted system, plus the clarity and confidence to see your plans through. To borrow Nike’s famous tagline, “Just Do It.”


GTD in everyday work and life


Did some of this resonate with something you already do? Or your parents or grandparents did? Or a co-worker you have observed? Most of us might already be incorporating the elements of the above strategy into our work or home organisation, if not the methodology as a whole.


  • Whether you have a running to-do list on your fridge or phone, you are already doing “Capture.”

  • Do you keep a journal or a whiteboard to list out your short-and-long-term goals? That’s “Clarify” for you.

  • Whether it is your spice rack, wardrobe, or Google Drive folder structure: If you have a system for keeping things straight and uncluttered, you have nailed “Organized.”

  • If you do a mental reconnaissance of things before you start work for the day to know where you stand, or revisit things to try a different tack-- you know, “Reflect.”

  • And when you are ready and exhilarated to take the plunge, you “Engage.”


Do you need a digital buddy to help you get on with your GTD life?


Try one of the many apps and programs out there: Evernote (for capture), Trello (for organising and assigning work) Todoist, Asana, Lotus Notes, Nirvana, and so on, till you find the one that best fits your work style. Many come with handy setup guides if you are new to the whole concept.


Go forth and be productive in a way that’s meaningful and significant to you!


(A great resource to truly appreciate the idea of GTD - you can catch this old episode of The Time Ferris Show. )

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