GTD-Know What It Is?

Recently, I had a friend share with me that Mayo is offering a specific type of training to its employees called Getting Things Done (GTD), "the art of stress-free productivity" from author David Allen. I read this book many years ago, and thought given this recent push I'd revisit the updated edition and give you all a quick rundown.

GTD is considered a "bottom up" approach. That is to say, instead of starting your organization/productive journey outlining your goals, you "clear the decks" and write down all of the unfinished tasks in your life, making no distinction between work and life. This idea of mind-clearing is the first step, which is called Capture. It can be a helpful way to get all those stressful and jumbled thoughts documented, which in itself is stress-reducing. If this is all you gain from this approach, it can be greatly helpful.

The second step is called Clarify. It is a "moving forward" model, breaking down larger, insurmountable tasks into manageable, attainable jobs. For those who have lofty ideas that rarely get accomplished, this provides a way to see and experience growth. However, some see this as a shallow approach, in that all steps are created equal. One way to look at this is that you are able to get the shallow tasks out of the way in an organized fashion, leaving time for more "deep thinking" and meaningful brainwork that perhaps isn't as task driven.

Step 3 is called Organize. Here is where you take all actionable tasks and assign them to a list (project, calendar, next actions, and waiting for). As with a lot of packaged programs, there is a list of items that are suggested for purchase to assist with this process, like folders or calendars. Thankfully, they aren't a ton of patented, necessary products that you need to buy. A simple crummy notebook and pencil will suffice.

The Reflect process is step 4. If you aren't naturally reflective, there are suggested times and ways to get you looking back on your productivity to refine your process and effectiveness. The flaw I see here is that there seems to be no real training on how to prioritize your tasks according to more overarching themes like your values and goals.

The final step is the GTD method is called Engage. Readers are encouraged to use the four criteria of context, time available, energy available, and priority in deciding what task to complete next. It is very action-oriented, not philosophical.

As with any program, there are pros and cons. Learning new ways of approaching work and life can be time-consuming, and actually stressful. My best suggestion is to use the parts that work for you, try to adopt a new trick or trip that could be helpful, and leave the rest.

If all else fails and you are still frustrated, you know who you can call!