Effective time management - the GTD method

Service Business

An important meeting with a contractor, a son's match, a phone call to the supplier, shopping with his wife, a discount for customer X ... or maybe Y? Standard human memory has a limited capacity. An attempt to remember all important dates, events, plans, tasks - even with above-average abilities - may end up, for example, not showing up for an important meeting. How to avoid this situation? Fortunately, there are many methods for this, and not necessarily based on specifics with a large dose of well-absorbed magnesium available in pharmacies. We are talking about techniques developed under the so-called effective time management, which may be helpful in organizing your time at work or in private life. One of such techniques is the so-called the GTD method invented by David Allen, an American productivity specialist, and this is what this article will be devoted to. We invite you to read.

Assumptions of the GTD method

The GTD (Getting Things Done) method, known in Polish as "efficiently taking care of your affairs" or "completing tasks", is based on several important assumptions. First of all, its main goal is to improve the comfort of life by arranging and organizing everyday matters and focusing on those that require real action. In addition, acting in accordance with the principles developed by Allen is to bring a person success - on a professional and private basis. What is this "success" about? The author of the method defines it as achieving the planned goals and getting things done without overloading memory and attention (then your resources can be used for other activities).

Using the recommendations of the GTD method is also to guarantee an increase in the productivity of a person and give him a chance to choose the right methods of action to the status of the tasks waiting for execution.

According to Allen, very important elements of the method are control and perspective. Keeping your activities under control helps you maintain a detailed GTD process (which will be described later in this article), and the perspective provides a grasp and ordering of your current tasks with respect to six levels:

  1. current tasks,
  2. current projects,
  3. areas of responsibility,
  4. annual goals,
  5. 5-year vision,
  6. lifetime.

5 steps in the GTD process

Allen divided the time management process into 5 steps, thanks to which it is possible to achieve the previously indicated success. He distinguished:

  1. collecting,
  2. analysis (processing),
  3. organizing,
  4. review,
  5. doing.

The first stage - collecting - consists in collecting all commitments, notes, plans and ideas in one place, which the author called a "basket". Its role can be played, for example, by a document shelf, a notebook, a folder on a computer disk, any application for taking notes on a smartphone (or a specially designed application - yes, there are already such!). Choosing the right basket depends on the preferences and habits of a particular person. It is important at this stage to move everything from your head to a specific place (which at the same time allows you to free yourself mentally, to cleanse yourself of excess thoughts).

Collecting can be considered complete if we feel that the basket created is complete, which does not mean that the basket once created remains intact forever. On the contrary. It is important to supplement and empty it on a regular basis, which is achieved by the next stage, i.e. analysis.

It is a very important and demanding step towards being systematic and successful in managing your time. It consists of regular (e.g. daily or every two days) checking the basket, browsing its contents and asking yourself the question: does the issue require an immediate response? If the answer is yes, it is very important to take appropriate steps, in accordance with the assumptions:

  • completing the task immediately (if it takes no more than 2 minutes),
  • delegating it to another person,
  • postponement:
    • to the calendar (if it is strictly defined in time),
    • to the list of next tasks (so that it is done as soon as possible).

In case of a negative answer to the above question, possible actions include moving the task to the archive, moving it to the "possibly / in the future" list or throwing it to the trash.

It is recommended to start the analysis from the beginning of the basket (i.e. from the oldest tasks) and to deal with only one case at a time. An important assumption also applies to the prohibition of putting into the basket of things that have already been taken out of it.

The next stage is tidying up, which is to serve the proper organization of work. It consists in grouping tasks into common contexts (e.g. e-mails, meetings, phone calls) and organizing projects.

Next task: the smallest "fraction" of the work that should be done immediately. Importantly - it does not have any intermediate steps. In this case, the appropriate context of the task must be considered when ordering.
Project: It consists of several individual tasks. It is important that each of them has another task assigned to them.

Allen also distinguishes the so-called special to-do lists, ie "pending tasks" (delegated to another person) and the above-mentioned "possibly / in the future" (tasks and projects for which no commitments are made at present).

Such prepared lists should be regularly analyzed in terms of the implementation of projects and tasks - in accordance with the author's recommendations, it is best to do it every day (the fourth step, i.e. review). In addition, it is advisable to do a full list review at least once a week, including processing cart items and checking all tasks and projects.

The final step towards achieving success is implementation, during which a person using the GTD method can begin to effectively fulfill his duties. Allen distinguishes three types of activities that make up this stage:

  • performing planned work,
  • performing work that appears unexpectedly,
  • work planning.
When choosing which of the planned tasks to be performed at a given moment, four criteria should be based on: the context in which we currently find ourselves; available time; available energy and priorities.

The efficiency of the GTD model

At first glance, the described model may seem a bit complicated, which may give the impression that instead of helping, it will completely disrupt our work system. At the beginning of the implementation of the GTD method assumptions, the whole process will certainly consume a large dose of resources. However, the great popularity of the model indicates that the efficiency of the GTD model is high - many people manage to become proficient in such planning. Thus, they can achieve the success mentioned at the beginning.

For interested:
This text is only a brief introduction to the topic of GTD, therefore, in order to thoroughly read the assumptions and manual of the model, it is best to refer to Allen's book translated into Polish: “The Art of Efficiency. Effective implementation of tasks ".