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GTD Overview

There's a reason Getting Things Done (aka GTD) has become one of the most popular and often used time management systems:  it's incredibly powerful AND simple.  Put simply, it's a bottom up time management system, meaning its primary focus is on actions and projects. 

The advantage of using a bottom-up system is in
dealing with the daily tasks that come your way:

Bottom Up Time Management

Bottom-up systems focus on specifically what you need to do.

The starting point is your actions and projects, with little - or at least less - focus put on the higher levels of your mission, values, roles, goals, etc.
  • Buy dog food
  • Buy cell phone for daughter
  • Wash and fold laundry
  • Prepare for meeting with CFO
  • Review draft of 2008 Tax Return
  • Drop off daughter at gymnastics
  • Drop off son at soccer practice
  • Create training plan for running group
  • Run 6 miles in target heart zone
  • Pick up daughter from gymnastics
  • Pick up son from soccer practice

Bottom-up systems are great at capturing all of these daily to-do's and more. 

GTD is so powerful because of its basic premises.  To be effective, you've got to:

  1. Get things out of your head and into a trusted system

  2. Make Up front decisions about your next actions
First, a quick note about using any time management system...

Time Management is a Thinking Process

It doesn't matter whether you use paper and pencil, a planner, a Blackberry, Palm or other smartphone, or what computer system you're on. Although the tools certainly help, once you get the concepts and principles, you can be just as effective with whatever resources you may have.

Change is constant - principles are not.

Keep that in mind as you're learning the GTD and RPM systems.

Getting Things Done takes the Write Everything Down time management technique to a whole nother level by integrating it into a complete system.

It's generally agreed that we're capable of focusing on 7 things - plus or minus two - at any given time. We can't be effective when our focus is on trying to remember all of the things we think we have to do.

This system solves the problem through mastering 5 workflow steps:
  1. Collecting
  2. Processing
  3. Organizing
  4. Reviewing
  5. Doing
The above workflow pages summarize each step, including a fantastic flowchart David Allen created for the processing and organizing steps.

Additionally, I share my setup, not for you to copy – although you certainly can if you like – but to give you some ideas for what may work best for you.

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