Introduction to GTD

A world of inefficiency and chaos

“Chaos always defeats order because it is better organized”.- Terry Pratchett

 

We live in a world oversaturated with information and tasks, especially at a time when the global financial crisis is testing us facing a merciless competition, and facing suppliers and customers with unlimited demands.

Everyday, we accumulate emails, calls, orders, notes, tasks, commitments… In any moment, the priority, urgency or importance can be changed. The personal and professional things are mixed. The plannings are becoming inefficient and useless. Finally, the tasks are executed by reaction, depending of what is required or depending of the priority in that moment, without a clear vision about the goal nor how much is neccesary to be done, with the feeling of not knowing what is being done and why it does.

It tends inexorably to chaos, working exhaustively in the midst of a dense fog that blinds the true image of our work, without feeling just advance, feeling only that the result does not justify nor reward the efforts.

In the School they teach literacy, math, science and other disciplines, but they don’t teach some complementary and necessary powers, like personal organization techniques, which help you to do anything better and more efficiently in any scope, such as in studies, in the professional and in the personal one.

Usually, we learn to organize reactively and instinctively, depending on the circumstances that arise. Based on trial and error, we are creating our own organization system, in order to impact on our world least possible, not to improve it.

At the last years, personal organization has been in constant research and improvement. The benefits of implementing a personal organization system is invaluable, and the results substantially enhance our productivity and the quality of everything we think and do.

How to improve the organization and productivity?

There are many techniques and recommendations, which are teached, written and published by experts in organization and productivity. Most of these techniques are like tricks that work well for specific cases, such as email management and efficient meetings. However, we need a generic method of organization that can be applied in a general way, in any context or situation, and whose effectiveness is amply demonstrated. Additionally, applying those specific techniques helps to increase and further improve our organization and our productivity.

GTD is a simple and efficient personal organization system, daily used by millions of people around the world, in all situations and circumstances.

What is GTD?

One of the major premises of GTD consist on free the mind from all you must to remember, delegating your memory to a “box for everything”. If you release your mind you can put more focus in the execution of actions. But GTD goes far beyond the mere fact of annotate something in order to don’t forget it. GTD is also focused on how to organize, plan and do things, on take the control of your life, on decide when and how the projects must be undertaken, on plan the day and the week, on decide what tasks are the best candidates to be executed in a given moment.

Basic principles of GTD

The basic principles of GTD are the following ones:

  • Collect: You catch all the things that emerge and need later attention, putting reminders in an inbox, also called basket or hamper. It frees the mind in order to focus on what to do, not on what to remind.
  • Process: You analyze each of the things collected in the inbox and, then, you decide what to do with them.
  • Organize: You classify the processed things in lists, in order to keep track of them. The organization proposes when the tasks must be undertaken, in the most efficiently way, depending on our criteria in that moment.
  • Revise: This is the most important principle. It checks the lists frequently, in order to reorganize them according to the circumstances and needs of that moment, removing the completed tasks from the lists.
  • Do: Execute the tasks.

The rule of two minutes

At the time of processing the inbox, if you identify a task that can be executed in approximately two minutes, RUN IT IMMEDIATELY. Do not expect a better time.

The golden rule

To ensure that things are done and that the organization and productivity are aligned with GTD, the golden rule is: the inbox must be checked and emptied at least once a week. This prepares the inbox for the next week, and avoid procrastination and disorder.

Advantages of GTD

  • Improvement of personal organization.
  • Control, security and reliability. You know, at any moment, that everything is in its place.
  • Elimination of stress and anxiety.
  • Eliminating concerns can be leveraged to create new projects, and to imagine and pursue new dreams.
  • No impositions. You are free to do what you think must be done according to your own criteria and intuition.
  • Vision at short, medium and long term.
  • Improvement of productivity.
  • General efficiency.

 

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