Let’s GTD! If you’re looking for a time management system that will allow you to spend your working time more efficiently, Getting Things Done might be it. First, ask yourself these questions:
1. Do you have vague ideas of things that you’d like to accomplish that you think of often but never get to?
2. Do you have items on your to-do list that are always moved down in lieu of more important/pressing tasks?
3. Is procrastination a problem for you?
If you answered ‘yes’ to these, GTD might be the way to go.
Getting Things Done integrates into Write! beautifully. No need to write things down on pieces of paper file those notes into physical folders: you can use Write!’s tabs, sessions and folders to organize your workflow with no reliance on pen and paper and cultivate a clutter-free environment both in your head and at your workstation.
So What is Getting Things Done?
GTD comes to us from the book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. Since its release in 2001, it’s become a must-read for anyone aspiring to high productivity and effective time management.
The process is built on the premise that keeping the tasks you need to do in your head is exhausting and stress-inducing. That turns into less productive work, since your mind is preoccupied with something else, which turns into yet another source of stress. Basically, the entire thing is about decluttering your mind to free up RAM so you can utilize your full ability to work.
Here Is the GTD Principle, Distilled Into Five ‘Pillars‘
1. Collect — to free up your mind from the endless reminders of the things you need to do, collect them all in one place. This is called the inbox. If you’re working on something and remember you need to wash your car or set up a dentist’s appointment, open up your inbox, and write it down. Keep doing this, and you’ll soon be amazed how much stuff was clogging up your brain.
2. Clarify — every ‘to-do’ must be actionable. If it isn’t, you either trash it or move it to the ‘someday’ pile. To make something actionable, you break it down into steps so minute that there is no barrier to entry — i.e., as soon as you see the item, you can start working on it. “Buy new TV” is vague. “Come up with budget”, “research and read reviews”, “place order” are not.
3. Organize — at the end of every day, you go into your inbox and file each entry into the proper list (more on this later).
4. Review — GTD involves lots of reflection on your process. Include daily and weekly reviews of your to-do’s. Each item must be filed into its proper place, and, if needed, broken down into steps.
5. Do it! — some discipline is required for this method to work, and you can’t slack off.
Integrate Getting Things Done Into Write!
Create a series of documents, and group them into a session. These documents should be:
• Inbox — where you dump everything that comes up in your brain that you need to do (get groceries, call Karen from finance, read that article you peeped over another passenger’s shoulder on the bus, etc.)
• Work to-do — some things you can only do at work or using work equipment. Those go here.
• Home to-do — for the tasks you’ve got to do at home. Include hobbies and chores in this list.
• Waiting — some things that you need to do can only be completed after a period of waiting. If you’re planning to map the Sagittarius constellation, you’ll need to wait for that telescope to arrive first. No need to clog up your main to-do list with this, so put it in the ‘waiting’ document for the time being.
• Someday — some plans are so grand they can’t be planned for at the moment. Travel plans, learning new languages and other long-term plans all go here.
Now that you’ve created your documents, save them into a session. To do this, click on the “session” button in the upper right corner of Write!’s window. Call the session GTD, and start a new session to avoid mixing in other documents within your GTD space. Write! sessions are a fantastic way of keeping your different projects separate from each other so that you don’t have twenty tabs to get lost in.
For additional organizing and decluttering, open up the cloud (F4), and save all your GTD documents into a separate folder.
Get Things Done!
Now that you’re done with all the preparations, it’s time to implement GTD into your workflow.
During the day, fill the inbox document with things you need to do, ideas for possible future projects, any books you encounter that you’d like to check out — anything and everything that needs doing. As long as Write! is running in the background, you can use Ctrl+` to bring it up with the currently open document, or press Alt+` to create a new one. Whatever you’re doing, Write! is there to capture your thoughts.
Make time at the end of each day when you organize your inbox into the proper lists.
When sorting, consider the following: is the item in question actionable? If it’s not something you can start working on right away, move it to “someday” or delete it.
When moving an item into a list, make sure to write the first step of the action, so that there is no barrier to starting. Each item must also have a desirable outcome state — that is, a finish line. Without a measurable goal, there’s no way you can reach it. So “Keep up with emails” should be “no emails unattended to at the end of the day”.
Set up a weekly review for the system. This is the time you reflect on your process, take note of what works, and what doesn’t. Tweak whatever needs changing, and implement new things to try out the coming week.
Try GTDing in Write!’s note-taking mode! Toggle it by pressing F11, and enjoy the compact tabs-on-the-left design to jot down your ideas.
That’s all there is to it! Remember, GTD is less of a rigid system than an approach to work. You can experiment and figure out on your own what works best for you and your process. Read the book, and manage your time more efficiently than ever!