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Getting Things Done - GTD

posted on Aug 14, 2020 |   536 likes


Do you find it challenging getting things done?

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In 1956, cognitive psychologist George Miller hypothesized that our working memory can hold anywhere between five to nine chunks of information at any given time.

His studies inspired other researchers to look more closely at memory and how we store information–and while we still don’t know definitively how much information we can stow away in our minds, psychologists and neuroscientists both agree that our working memory has a limited capacity.

It also doesn’t help that many of us working in today’s fast-paced knowledge economy feel like we’re constantly trying to juggle multiple tasks.

Not only does multitasking deplete our mental energy, it can also clutter our working memory by forcing us to use our mind as an extension of our to-do list.

The Getting Things Done Productivity System approach is a response to the mental clutter that inhibits our productivity and creativity.


So How Does The GTD Productivity Approach Work?

The Getting Things Done approach helps with organizing tasks and priorities so that you’re able to manage your day more easily. The system is broken down into the following five steps: 

  1. Capture
  2. Clarify
  3. Organize
  4. Reflect
  5. Engage


These steps will help you record your ideas, turn them into actionable tasks, and then execute those tasks. Here’s how:


Step 1: Capture your thoughts

The first thing you need to do is record everything you need to remember––and we do mean everything.

Capture your ideas, assignments, projects, goals, upcoming appointments, and anything else that’s been on your mind.

You can write these thoughts down in your notebook, in a spreadsheet or Word document, a task management app, or anywhere else where you can track your information.

The goal here is to make an external copy of the important information you have stored in your working memory.


Step 2: Clarify how you’re going to complete your tasks

The next step is to turn your thoughts into measurable actions. If you wrote down “work on marketing plan” during the first step, here’s where you clarify what exactly you should be doing.

You could say something like “come up with three new strategies for email marketing” or “make a list of 10 prospective micro-influencers.”

You want to make sure that you know exactly what you need to do in order to achieve your desired outcome.


Step 3: Organize your to-do list

Once you’ve determined what you need to get done and how you’re going to do it, it’s time to prioritize your tasks.

Arrange your list into categories like urgent, important, medium priority, and so on.

Alternatively, if you have a lot of deadlines you’re working with, you can prioritize your tasks by due dates instead.

And if you don’t have any hard deadlines and you’re struggling with prioritizing your tasks, think about which assignments deliver the most value and make those your top priority.


Step 4: Reflect on your list

Now that your to-do list is planned out and prioritized, it’s time for a little quality control.

Reflection is when you go through your list to see whether you can make any adjustments to improve your productivity system.

Perhaps you didn’t capture all of your thoughts, or maybe you have complex tasks that you can break down into smaller assignments. Now’s the time to optimize your list.


Step 5: Engage in your activities

The final step takes you out of the planning stage and puts you into the doing stage of the GTD system.

This is where you’ll actually start getting things done. The goal of this step isn’t to start tasks, it’s to complete them. You’ll want to knock items off your list one-by-one so you can devote 100% of your mental energy to completing one assignment before shifting your focus to the next task.



There’s no hidden secret to making the Getting Things Done system work for you.

You just have to be disciplined enough to stick to the program, even during the beginning stages when you’re just getting used to the system.

You also need to be consistent with capturing ideas and reflecting on your list so that your productivity system stays up to date.

For more inspirations on how to be productive at work, visit our blog.

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