The best tricks for Getting Things Done (GTD)

February 20, 2024
minutes to read
Alice Surdy
Table of Contents

We all love that feeling of completing a task, and now we know why. Scientists have identified that your brain releases a hit of dopamine (a chemical that gives you feelings of pleasure, reward, and motivation) when you achieve a goal. So, with that in mind, how do you ensure you set and complete goals? Well, it's time to step into the world of the 'Getting Things Done' (GTD) method. In this article, we'll run you through the steps and strategies for implementing this approach and how you can quickly get things done.

The GTD method is a productivity system created by David Allen that helps people manage their tasks and thoughts more efficiently. The technique is designed to help people achieve their goals, reduce stress, and increase productivity. The method has grown in popularity worldwide because it's adaptable to different people, working styles and business types.

How do you implement the GTD method?

The key to implementing the GTD method is to follow a daily process that helps you capture, clarify, organise, and reflect on your tasks and thoughts. The recommended daily process for implementing the GTD method is as follows:  

  1. Start your day by reviewing your to-do list and prioritising your tasks. This will help you focus on what needs to be done and avoid getting side-tracked by unimportant tasks.  
  2. Capture all your tasks, thoughts, and ideas as they come to you throughout the day. You can do this using a notebook, a digital task app like Thriday, or any other tool that works for you.  
  3. Clarify each task by breaking it down into smaller, actionable steps. This will make it easier to know what steps must be taken and how to do it.  
  4. Organise your tasks and thoughts into relevant categories or folders. This will help you keep everything in its place and easily find what you need when you need it.  
  5. Reflect on your progress and accomplishments at the end of the day. This helps you stay motivated and focused on your goals.  

Tracking tasks in Thriday

To help support this daily process, many fans of the GTD method set up different work folders and spreadsheets to keep track of their actions. This is an excellent hack to ensure GTD becomes a consistent part of your daily process. Some standard folders that people use are: 

  • Actions: This folder is used to store tasks that require immediate action. 
  • Projects: This folder can hold tasks that are part of a larger project. 
  • Ideas: This folder stores tasks or ideas that you might want to tackle in the future but are not a priority right now. 
  • Reference: This category or folder can store information or documents you need to refer to in the future. 

In addition to these categories, you can create other folders relevant to your specific tasks and goals. For example, you might have a folder for work tasks, a folder for personal tasks, and a folder for errands. The key is to create a structure that helps you stay organised, focused, and aligned with your business goals.

What other prioritisation frameworks are popular?

Different prioritisation frameworks or processes can work well with the GTD method. Some popular frameworks or processes include: 

  • The Eisenhower Matrix: This framework helps you prioritise tasks based on their importance and urgency. Jobs are put into one of four quadrants: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and not urgent and not important. 
  • The ABCDE Method: This method helps you prioritise tasks based on their potential impact. Items are assigned a letter from A to E, with A being the most critical task and E being the least important task. 
  • The Pareto Principle states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This can be applied to task prioritisation by focusing on the 20% of tasks with the most significant impact. 
  • The MoSCoW Method: This method is used in project management to prioritise tasks based on their importance to the project. Tasks are divided into four categories: must-haves, should-haves, could-haves, and won't-haves. 

What are common challenges businesses have faced implementing the GTD method?

While the GTD method is popular, it only suits some. For some people, it can be challenging to adapt to. Some common pitfalls that people have with the method are: 

  • Time-consuming: Capturing and breaking down all your tasks and projects can take time, especially when you first start, and it's not a natural habit for you. 
  • Overcomplicating things: Some people may overcomplicate the system by creating too many lists, folders, and categories, which can become unwieldy and overwhelming to manage. 
  • Lack of application: For the method to work, you need to stick to it rigorously. If you stop and start or follow the rules some days and not others, your process will become a mess. 

The key to successfully implementing the GTD method is to start small and be consistent. It's crucial to balance being thorough in capturing and clarifying tasks while keeping the system simple and easy to use. With practice and persistence, individuals can overcome these challenges and reap the benefits of the GTD method.

"The key to successfully implementing the GTD method is to start small and be consistent."

GTD Method FAQs

What is the GTD method?

The GTD method is a productivity system developed by David Allen that helps individuals manage and organise their tasks and projects.

How does the GTD method work?

The GTD method breaks down tasks and projects into actionable steps that can be completed quickly and efficiently. It involves capturing all of your to-do items and ideas in an external system, processing them to determine subsequent actions, organising those actions into categories, reviewing them regularly, and executing them in a focused and efficient manner.

What are the benefits of using the GTD method?

The benefits of using the GTD method include increased productivity, improved organisation, reduced stress, better focus, and greater control over your work and personal life.

How do I get started with the GTD method?

To get started with the GTD method, you must capture all of your outstanding to-do items and ideas in an external system, such as a notebook or digital app. From there, you can process each item to determine the next action required, organise those actions into categories (such as "Next Actions," "Waiting For," and "Someday/Maybe"), and review and execute them regularly.

Can the GTD method be used in a team setting?

The GTD method can be adapted for use in a team setting. Teams can use a shared tool or platform to capture and track tasks and projects and collaborate on next actions and reviews.

Are there any downsides to using the GTD method?

Some people may find the GTD method too rigid or time-consuming and may need help with the detail required for effective implementation. Additionally, the method may not be suitable for those who prefer a more intuitive or flexible approach to productivity.

The GTD method is an incredible hack for getting things done. For small business owners, it's a powerful productivity system that can help you complete tasks and projects more efficiently, reduce stress, and increase productivity. By following the five key steps of the GTD method, you can gain clarity and focus on your goals. While implementing the GTD method can be challenging initially, the benefits of increased productivity, reduced stress, and improved decision-making are well worth the effort. With practice and persistence, anyone can master the GTD method and make their business a lean, mean, fighting machine.

DISCLAIMER: Team Thrive Pty Ltd ABN 15 637 676 496 (Thriday) is an authorised representative (No.1297601) of Regional Australia Bank ABN 21 087 650 360  AFSL 241167 (Regional Australia Bank).  Regional Australia Bank is the issuer of the transaction account and debit card available through Thriday. Any information provided by Thriday is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether Thriday is appropriate for you.

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