Getting started with GTD

10. februar 2009

GTD, or Getting Things Done, is a philosofy explained in the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. Reading the book is very worthwhile, but it is not essential to get started with GTD.

 
The purpose of GTD, in my mind, is simplicity and productivity in order to achieve my goals in life,  and on the way experience peace of mind instead of stress.
 
Five habits will get you started on that road and gradually have you wanting more of the same.
  1. Keeping a nice workspace
  2. Upholding the idea of only one inbox
  3. Getting stuff out of your head and down on “paper”
  4. Maintaining a filing system
  5. Focusing on next actions
1. Keeping a nice workspace
No matter how small or cramped, setup a nice workspace for yourself at work and at home.  
 
A workspace is a place where you sit down to work, write, read and plan. You should have your own workspace and avoid sharing it with others. Instead help them set up their own workspace.
 
Essentials:
  • a desk that is big enough, 
  • a good chair, 
  • a notepad or blank pieces of paper, 
  • a good pen or pencil
  • a physical inbox
  • a filing system

The desk must be big enough for you to sit and write at, and should preferably be permanent. Setting one up every day and packing it away at night is not ideal, but can work.

 
The chair should be comfortable enough, so that you dont develop back pains or get distracted by unrestfulness.
 
A notepad or pieces of blank paper for taking notes and getting things out of your head.
 
A good roller pen or ball point pen is nice, but some prefer good pencils. Always keep it with you.
 
A physical inbox can be anything from a cool leather box fitting a folder, to a pile of stuff that has come your way.
 
My filing system is a box from Crate and Barrel that holds about 35 file folders, but it could also be a cabinet with drawers.
 
2. Upholding the idea of only one inbox
Think of everything that comes into your life as stuff. 
 
All stuff must be handeld and you can apply the 5 paths to Email Nirvana to getting this done. E-mails are stuff too.
Stuff ends up in a variety of places like your car, your wallet, kitchen counter, post it’s on the mirror.
 
Begin a habit of collecting all stuff in one place or inbox. That means emptying your car (all shelves and compartments) and your wallet into the inbox on your workspace.
 
Then apply the “5 paths”.
 
3. Getting stuff out of your head and down on “paper”
Keep a notepad and a pen with you at all times for jotting down your thoughts or doing more structured brainstorming in a mindmap.
 
4. Maintaining a filing system
As you go through your stuff, on a computer or in real life, you will purge a lot, but you will also need a filing system. 
 
The most simple one is using plain file folders. Keep them handy for easy access and remember to label them according to how you will be retrieving the folder. E.g. for insurance related documents use “Name of Insurance Company” or “Insurance”. Its up to you and you will find your own style.
 
5. Focusing on Next Actions
The key to Getting Things Done is to focus on the next action. If you focus only on the end goal, it is easy to get paralyzed. 
 
Practice these habits, and you will find that you want more. Then read the book or ask questions here.

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