Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 25, 2018

Why Getting Things Done is the Best Productivity System For You

Why Getting Things Done is the Best Productivity System For You

David Allen’s Getting Things Done book has been around for over ten years now and has totally changed the way that many knowledge workers work and play.

The system has helped me and my team here at Lifehack get their most important work done on a daily, monthly, weekly, and “lifely” basis.

But, what if (this is a big what if) there was something better out there than GTD for increasing your productivity while decreasing your life’s overwhelm? What if there is something better and fits the way that the knowledge worker’s lifestyle works?

Well, you can stop worrying and looking. I’m here to tell you that the GTD is the best productivity system because it can be adapted to fit your lifestyle, has the over-arching models that you can use for a lifetime, and contains two secrets weapons of personal productivity.

1. It’s difficult to grok at first but will become your second nature.

One of the main reasons that people give up on GTD, especially at first, is that there seems to be a lot to it.

“You mean I have to go out and buy a labeler, filing cabinet, sticky notes, some list making apps, and better pens?” No, not unless you want to.

Mr. Allen’s book suggests getting some gear to get things started but you don’t have to do it, you can start GTDing with a crappy notebook and pen.

Another thing GTD suggests is taking a full two days to collect and process everything in your personal and professional life. I remember reading that and think, “how in the hell is that even possible? I’ve got too much stuff to do and I want to get it done now!”

While giving yourself two full days to clean out and clean up your life would be awesome, you can get started by collecting and processing as you go.

Advertising

The idea of next actions and projects can be foreign (although welcomed!) to someone that has used daily todo lists to accomplish things in the past. Some people get stuck and confused with having so many lists and things on those lists.

Mostly this is due to lack of completing proper weekly reviews. Once one settles in with GTD, collects and organizes things into the right lists, and then reviews it consistently the confusion will go away.

GTD takes time and practice to understand and use. But after some time, it becomes second nature to the practitioner. This is only with the help from the models that Mr. Allen has created.

2. It’s an all-in-one creative model with all the essential concepts.

Some people think that Mr. Allen “created” the ideas behind GTD. That’s not really true.

What we can give him his credit for is identifying the things that busy professionals and humans do to get more done with the least amount of effort and stress. He then put these principals together and created a model for productivity.

Rather than doing what many productivity gurus did before him, Mr. Allen decided that approaching your work from a bottom up approach was the fastest way to make yourself more productive as quickly as possible.

After “clearing your decks” with your next actions and identifying your projects, it was then easier to recognize your larger life goals and what your life meant. Then you modify your projects to meet those goals.

Mr. Allen gave us the Five Phases of Workflow (Collect, Process, Organize, Review, and Do), The Natural Planning Model for creating and moving forward on projects, The 2-minute rule, and many other things that we can utilize to Get Things Done.

These ideas were always there; Mr. Allen was smart and creative enough to put them all together in a nice package. The models of GTD help make it the best productivity system because one can always go back to the “basics” of the system to get back to a state of flow in their work and life.

Advertising

3. The alternatives to GTD always have something missing.

There are some alternatives out there to GTD like Master Your Workday Now (also the One Minute Todo List), GSD, Getting Results the Agile Way, ZTD, and many others.

The thing is that almost all of these either take things from Mr. Allen’s model, or don’t encompass the bigger picture of work and life allowing many important things to fall through the cracks.

I’ve tried most of these other alternatives (albeit not for terribly long periods of time) and I always felt like something was missing. It was the complete system that GTD offers me that these alternatives didn’t cover.

For instance, Getting Results the Agile Way is very interesting, but if you look into it more you will see that it is heavily based on GTD core principles. Agile Results then adds a top layer of making sure that you are geting results during your week, which really is a modified weekly review that Mr. Allen suggests in GTD.

So, it appears that the alternatives to GTD are just modified versions of Mr. Allen’s system, not completely different ideas on how to handle your work.

Yes, they may work for some others but we have to see that without GTD most of these systems wouldn’t exist in their current form making GTD a sort of pillar of productivity systems.

4. It spans personal and professional works.

GTD doesn’t care whether your work is professional or personal. It is all work in the eyes of your system.

Of course, you can segregate work tasks to home tasks and projects, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

It all takes the same amount of “physical RAM” in your brain so it all can be treated as work, everything from “create the TPS reports” to “buy dog treats for the puppies”. It’s all considered work by GTD standards.

Advertising

5. It gets you to start taking actions.

I told you there were two secrets that make GTD the best productivity system around, remember? Those secrets are the act of capturing and the idea of the next action.

One of the biggest problems that GTD tries to solve is the idea of workers having too many “open loops” in their lives. Open loops are basically all of the things that we have committed ourselves to do but haven’t kept track of them in some way (other than in our fallible brains).

Stress is induced when we have too many open loops at once and don’t have them captured into a system that we can trust they are in. Our minds start racing and it’s all down hill from there.

Capturing is the key to keeping yourself sane.

Enter, capture. Capturing allows the GTD practitioner to close the open loops in their life by writing them down and keeping them out of their mind. This is how one starts to get to the aspect of “mind like water” and starts to relieve the stress of all of the things they have kept in their mind for so long.

Identifying the next action of any project is another secret of GTD.

Seeing what the absolute next physical action is allows us to take the first step in completing a project of any size. The issue with many projects that are stalled or not yet completed is that they haven’t been thought through and the next physical action to get the project moving hasn’t been identified.

When I started to identify the next physical action I was surprised to see how quickly I could get a “stuck” project moving, no matter how little the next action really was. Things like, “call Bob to get the name of number of his accountant” is enough to spark a large project like “Form your LLC”.

Capturing and next actions are the secrets to why GTD is the best productivity system.

Advertising

Conclusion

If you take in most aspects of GTD, you will feel a sense of relief regarding your work and life that you haven’t felt before.

GTD is the best productivity system because it spans such a wide range of use-cases and is simple and complex enough to support a personal system as well as can be used for some of your biggest projects at work.

GTD’s bottom-up approach to productivity helps you get the pressing things done in your life so you can have the energy to answer the question “what’s my life purpose?” It helps you review your progress weekly and allows you to plan effectively for the future.

And with GTD’s capture and next action ideas, you can use it to instantly close open loops and move dead projects forward.

Even though the GTD has been around for a while now it still proves itself to be the best productivity system we as knowledge workers have access to.

If you want to get to know more about the GTD system, don’t miss our exclusive interview with David Allen:

GTD Leaders: A Lifehack Exclusive Interview with David Allen and Mike Williams

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

CM Smith

A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

Design Is Important: How To Fail At Blogging 7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively 6 Unexpected Ways Journaling Every Day Will Make Your Life Better Why Getting Things Done is the Best Productivity System For You How to Beat Procrastination: 29 Ways to Beat It Once and for All To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System

Trending in Productivity

1 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted) 2 10 Simple Strategies to Make Your Life Better Starting Today 3 30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work 4 3 Steps to Organize Your Thoughts And 10X Your Productivity 5 4 Simple Steps To Track Your Progress Towards Your Goals

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 16, 2019

15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

For most people, when they’re bored, they just sit there and don’t know what to do. They watch the clock ticks and the time passes by, and then several hours are gone.

But what if I tell you that when you really are feeling bored and don’t know what to do during your downtime, there’re lots of things you can do to feel (and really be) productive?

Here are 15 productive things to do when bored based on the principles of elimination, consumption and work.

1. Eliminate Clutter

One of the reasons why you’re not as prolific as you want may be that you have too much clutter.

Productive things to do when bored include tidying up your desk, removing books you’ll never read from your bookshelf and deleting the smartphone apps you never use.

Not only will you have done some housecleaning, the task might also give you energy to move on to the next, bigger task.

This guide will help you make decluttering easier: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

Advertising

2. Eliminate Distractions

Is there anything in particular that’s distracting you? If you’re looking for productive things to do when bored, zone in on what specifically is slowing down your productivity.

Social media is a popular detractor, for example. Sign out of your social networks so you can focus on things that actually matter.

Take a look at these techniques to free yourself from social media distractions: How Not To Let Social Media Control Your Body and Mind

3. Eliminate Concerns

Are you worried about something? Is that concern getting in the way of your productivity?

Deal with the problems that are keeping you from spending your time as well as you should. Examples include tasks like double-checking your schedule and sending follow-up emails.

By removing all of your stressors, you’ll be a lot more prolific.

4. Eliminate the Unnecessary

There are a lot of things in our lives that might be nice but are distractions to our productivity because they’re not necessary.

Advertising

Find out what those things are and remove them from your place of work.

If you find everything around you necessary, then maybe you can try this One Question to Help You Successfully Declutter Anything.

5. Eliminate Quick Tasks

Even if you don’t have enough energy for a big task, you might have enough to do a small one.

Check off items on your to-do list that can be done quickly like making a phone call or sending off an email.

6. Consume Knowledge

When you’re bored, it’s an opportune time to learn. One of the most productive things to do is to learn anything on the internet. It could be watching YouTube tutorials, or learning facts and skills on these 24 Killer Websites that Make You Cleverer.

7. Consume Data (or Maps)

Information isn’t the same as knowledge. Are there names, terms, dates, statistics, places or something similar you need to ingrain in your head?

Studying data or maps is one of the most productive things you can do when you feel bored.

Advertising

8. Consume Fiction

You have to be careful with this one; you can’t just watch an episode of your favorite TV show and call the time you spent productive. But you can pick some meaningful fictions and start reading. Here’re some recommendations for you: 30 Books That Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives

9. Consume Non-fiction

Reading a biography about someone in your profession or an account of historical events relevant to your career can be extremely productive things to do when bored. Time can be well-spent watching, reading or listening to something that inspires you:

10. Consume Culture

By consuming culture not only are you enriching yourself, you’re also trying a new experience. Taking part in activities you haven’t done before can be very productive things to do when bored.

11. Work on Your Work

Work is probably the hardest thing to do when bored, but it’s still possible to muscle through the lethargy and get things done.

If you’re unmotivated, remind yourself that your time best spent is doing the work that pays your income. A cash incentive goes a long way towards productivity.

12. Work on Your Craft

If you don’t feel like doing something career-related, try something artistic!

Creative activities like painting or creative writing could be the perfect productive things to do when bored.

Advertising

13. Work on Your Physical Health

If you don’t have a lot of energy to do something mental, hopefully you at least have the energy to partake in a physical activity.

Some productive things to do when you’re bored are running, walking, biking and lifting weights. Any kind of exercise is likely to free you from boredom.

14. Work on Your Emotional Health

Is there a personal issue that’s making it hard for you to be interested in anything? If so, address it. You’ll find productivity a whole lot easier.

Become emotionally healthy by learning about these 15 Things Emotionally Healthy People Do.

15. Work on your Mental Health

Boredom is often in reality something akin to anxiety or depression. Try doing mental exercises that help you focus on positive experiences and mindfulness to alleviate you of what you’re perceiving as boredom.

Practicing mindfulness and meditation can calm and relax you, take a look at this beginner’s guide to meditation: Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

A few simple steps towards improving your mental health can go a long way, not only towards productivity but your happiness in general.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Read Next