A few months ago, I felt stressed. A mountain of tasks were bearing down on me. People were throwing asks and requests at me left right and centre. I was struggling to cope and it was having an impact on my happiness. It generally takes me a little while to register emotions that are going on in my head. By the time I do, i’m already in the thick of it.
I started looking online for idea’s, researching mechanisms to cope and manage workload and stress. As it happened, i stumbled upon a gem. Over the last few months I have been using it every day. It has been of fantastic help for me, so I thoughts I would share it with you. its called the ‘Getting Things Done’ Method. Also known as GTD.
David Alan pioneered GTD. Over time he tinkered and played with different ways to manage all sorts of different tasks and asks in life. The result was GTD. I found GTD through some online articles and youtube videos, after which I then devoured his book. If I was to summarise the method, this is how I would describe the process.
- Create an ‘inbox’, which could be in any medium that best suits you. Digital, paper or a combination. Dump absolutely everything thats on your mind into this inbox. Get it out of your head. I was surprised how liberating this was for me.
- Process the inbox on a regular basis. Move tasks into different logical buckets that fit around your life. If a task seems intangible or is not actionable, break it down further until each becomes simple and more approachable.
– Tasks go into your task tracking process.
– Time based events go into your calendar.
- Monitor both your Tasks and calendar. Live by your calendar on a day to day basis. Pick the most important tasks off your task list when you have time. Saying no to things becomes much easier, as you can then see what you’r trading your time for based on whats in your list.
- Review. Regularly look over your inbox, calendar, tasks and categories. Tinker and refine.
I’m using the task tracking application ToDoist, in combination with evernote to manage my digital life. Physically, I have a paper tray for my physical inbox, with a filing box for organising paper documents. My personal email uses fastmail with my own domain, and my work life revolves around office 365. Its a little bit too dispersed for my liking, but i make do. The tools don’t really matter so much, just pick which ever works best for you.
If you build up a practical system that you can rely upon, it means you’r no longer trying to keep track of all the random things that are going on in your life in your head. For me, this was the massive stress relief win of GTD.
There is a whole book on this subject, so four bullet points isn’t going to do it justice. However, hopefully this has served as a taster for what GTD is, and how it has helped me.