Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done

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Time Management. It’s one of those life skills that we would all love to be better at. However, most people never actually “learn” how to manage their time properly. Personally, I always thought a better to-do list app would be the solution. After reading a great book called “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, I realized the app wasn’t the problem. It was the way I approached interruptions and opportunities that come along during the day. This book gives you a way to improve your productivity, organize your schedule, and provides guidelines for creating a system to get things done.

David’s basic approach is that there are five simple steps you can do right now to help you become more efficient with your time and productivity. Here are the ways you can “apply order to the chaos”:

Step 1: Capture Whatever It Is That Has Your Attention

Write down (physically or digitally) what the task is that you are needing to accomplish. There are a bunch of great “task” apps like, such as “Things”, “Todoist” or “Notes.” A standard notepad app, or an actual notepad, also gets the job done.

Step 2: Clarify & Process

Determine if this is something you can do right now – is it actionable? If it’s not actionable, meaning it’s not something that can be currently dealt with then delete it or file file it away for a later date. If you can take action right now then decide what to do with it. If it can be done quickly (in less than two minutes) then do it immediately. If the task is going to take longer than perhaps delegate parts of it or schedule a time to address is soon.

Step 3: Organize

Establishing a plan of action for your task is important so that it doesn’t get delayed inevitably. A simple “to do” action item may be organized in your to-do app. An idea that you want to address at a later time may find a home in your notes app for future reference.

Step 4: Reflect

This is an important part of the process so that you can make sure you are staying on schedule. Making an effort to review your lists so that you can prioritize tasks / ideas that haven’t been accomplished will allow you to set new goals for completing those items. Frequently delete / update your lists so that you know what is left, what’s no longer important and what needs to get done soon.

Step 5: Do

Make an effort to clear your list. Take action on as many items as you can. The longer you procrastinate, the more improbable it will be that you actually complete the important tasks on your list. The satisfaction that comes with checking items off your list and accomplishing tasks can be very rewarding and self fulfilling.

Each person is unique in the way they handle priorities throughout the day. This simple five step system is a framework to get started and may need to be modified to fit your needs. When it comes to using technology to aid in this process, there are literally hundreds of apps for your smartphone and computer that can help with this method. Selecting one is a matter of personal preference.

The important thing to remember is that apps are only tools, you alone must do the process in order to make things happen. An app won’t accomplish your tasks for you and that is why sticking to a system like GTD is a great way to remain focused.

If you have another system you use to get things done or if you have other favorite apps that you’d like to share, we want to hear about them. Check out for more information and links to apps and books that will help you get your schedule and your time management under control.