GTD® is an acronym for “Getting Things Done.” The term was coined and written about by David Allen, whose book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity describes the productivity workflow and habits that are now understood by the acronym. GTD® is now a registered trademark of David Allen and Company based out of Ojai, California. The company provides books, audio, videos, resources, seminars, and consulting services designed to help people learn the basic approach to productivity laid out in David Allen’s book.
The GTD® workflow consists of six areas a person learns to master : Collect, Process, Organize, Review, Do.
- Collect – The art of collecting ideas immediately onto something you can process later.
- Process – The art of processing each item in your inbox one at-a-time, deciding what it is, whether it is actionable or non-actionable, deciding if it requires any further action, and where in your system it needs to go for you to be reminded about it later.
- Organize – The art of specifying the things necessary to get Projects moving forward. Initially, this means specifying the primary purpose, standards, and outcome vision to get the proper clarity on why, how, and what each of your projects is all about. Additionally, this means specifying the next actions needed to realize each project’s outcome and organizing the actions by priority, sequence, or to whatever degree required. Mission-Critical tasks get sorted by priority. Key Milestones get sorted by sequence. Deliverables get sorted to whatever degree needed. When reviewing Projects, each project gets reviewed and recalibrated based on whether you need more clarity (purpose, standards, outcome) or more action (Mission-Critical, Key Milestones, Deliverables).
- Review – The art of reviewing your inventory of tasks and projects as frequently as necessary to ensure your inventory stays clean, current, and up-to-date. The two reviews recommended are a Weekly Review, which involves a complete review of every item in your system once-a-week; and a Daily Review, which involves a quick review of the hard lines of your calendar, a glance through your task list (tasks are sorted based on locations or contexts in which each one must be done), any Waiting For tasks, and any items that have been deferred until a particular day. Developing the habits of these two reviews creates a growing confidence that you have a handle on your inventory of obligations. With consistent reviews, this confidence develops into an instinct that allows you to properly adjust and act on things throughout your day.
- Do – The art of doing what can be done, when it can be done, based on location context. With the trust that everything important has been collected, processed, organized, and reviewed in the proper ways, you can simply act on your actionable tasks in-the-moment. When sitting on a train, you can pull out the Read-Review folder and crank through some reading. When at the phone, you can filter down to the @Phone tasks and crank through getting those tasks complete. You can then move on to work through the other location contexts (e.g., @Home, @Online, @Office, etc.).
For a good overview of the 10 habits involved in mastering the GTD® workflow, see the Ready-Set-Do! Quickstart Guide.