Scaling a company requires discipline and commitment. Unfortunately, this often leaves you with little to no personal time. Fortunately, that does not have to be the case. All you need to do is adopt the Getting Things Done method.

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What is the GTD method?

Getting Things Done (or GTD) is a personal productivity system to help you better organize and track your projects and tasks. But this method isn’t only about checking off a to-do list. Instead, it aims to ensure you accomplish your goals more efficiently, effectively, and with greater focus.

David Allen, a productivity consultant, developed the GTD method in his book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.

Its founding principle is that decisions are more challenging when you have too much information bouncing around in your head. If this is how you manage your calendar, responsibilities, and appointments, you’ll spend more time thinking about accomplishing your work rather than actually working. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, stressed, and unsure of how to act.

David Allen observed that the human brain is much better at processing information and developing creative ideas, while to-do lists are better at storing information. As a result, he designed the GTD methodology, which helps you transfer mental clutter into an external system. This means your valuable brain space is reserved for imaginative thinking.

With the correct Getting Things Done workflow, you’ll never have doubts about what you should be working on from moment to moment. Using GTD allows you to prioritize and tackle essential tasks first — meaning you’ll hit deadlines easily and ahead of schedule.

Beyond keeping track of actionable steps, the GTD productivity method will help you:

  • Accomplish more
  • Feel more relaxed at work
  • Become more creative

In case you’re wondering, the GTD method is a suitable task management system if you:

  • Feel overwhelmed by tasks and project lists
  • Want to get everything right — with precision, down to the little details
  • Task-switch between lots of different types of work
  • Start new jobs before finishing previous ones
Business professional using the Getting Things Done method to stay productive

How to implement the Getting Things Done method

In essence, the GTD project management system involves creating a digital record of anything in your mind. This repository includes tasks, projects, interests, and other information that’s important to you. 

After recording this information, you can categorize these items, break them down into simple steps, and determine their priority. With these steps, you’ll always have clarity on what’s next on your task list.

As you start, you’ll need to commit time and energy to the Getting Things Done system. There’s a bit of a learning curve — but if you use GTD consistently, it’ll become second nature.

The Getting Things Done method follows five principles to help systemize the information in your mind. 

These steps are:

  1. Capture
  2. Process
  3. Organize
  4. Review
  5. Engage
A Hubstaff graphic of the five Getting Things Done Steps - Capture, Process, Organize, Review, and Engage

Getting Things Done Step 1: Capture 

As you begin using the GTD system, remember that your brain is better at processing information than storing it. So, it’s essential to get out of the habit of remembering everything. 

Instead, capture anything that crosses your mind and store it in an inbox. The GTD inbox is like your brain’s downloads folder. Your tasks, projects, ideas, book recommendations, and events should all be data-dumped into this folder, so don’t leave anything out. A full inbox is the only way to get desirable results from the GTD system. 

Inboxes in the Getting Things Done method are visual representations of the inputs you need to address. You can also think of it as a place to transfer your mental clutter. So, don’t worry about keeping it organized.

Perform an initial sweep of your brain’s information: As a first-time user of the getting things done method, begin by performing a full mind sweep. Then, focus on remembering all open loops and capturing them. To help jog your memory, try using the GTD trigger list.

Capture new tasks immediately: The goal of using GTD is to reduce your reliance on remembering tasks to complete them. So, capture new tasks as they arise. If you’re a Hubstaff Tasks user, it’s easy to use your to-do list to add anything on your mind.


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Getting Things Done Step 2: Process

Now that you’ve captured the items, it’s time to determine the actions you want to manage and prioritize your to-do list. But before you get to that, you must decide what to do about each item.

To do this, start by categorizing the items as non-actionable or actionable. Then analyze each and determine the actions necessary to complete the tasks.

For non-actionable items, your options include:

  • Deleting
  • Archiving
  • Delaying

For actionable items, you will act, delegate, or defer. Your choice should take the following into account:

  • The task’s duration: If it would take less than two minutes, do it immediately. Otherwise, it’ll take more time to file, categorize, or sort the task instead of just getting it out of the way.
  • The due date: If the deadline is approaching, ensure that you prioritize these items.
  • Delegation: If it’s possible to pass a task on to someone else, do it during the Process step.

As you process the items, add specific and actionable details. Completing tasks is easier if you have all the details at hand.

Getting Things Done Step 3: Organize

At this stage, you have a record of the tasks you need to do and when to execute them. But it’ll still be a mess, which doesn’t help when you want to get things done efficiently

Proceed to organize the tasks by following these steps:

  • Set up four main action lists to categorize items (projects, next action, waiting for, and calendar are the standard lists).
  • File your tasks under these relevant categories.
  • Add context to each item by providing details (which software you’ll use or if there’s a specific location like an office where you’ll need to do the task).

Getting Things Done Step 4: Review

The purpose of using the GTD task management system is to enhance productivity. But bear in mind that it’s not automated. Beyond entering each detail manually, you’ll need to review it frequently.

Without regular review, you won’t be able to keep track of tasks, and they’ll pile up. The goal of reviewing is to see upcoming tasks and delete accomplished ones. 

A simple and effective way of reviewing is to do it the last or first thing in the day. As you make it a habit to plan your day early, it will be easier to focus and overcome procrastination. 

However, if it’s impossible to review it daily, add an item for weekly review to help you manage your list.

Remote employee starting the Review stage of the Getting Things Done method

Getting Things Done Step 5: Engage

By implementing the previous steps, you’ll have an updated list of items in your filing system. In addition, you’ll have a greater sense of control over your day because you’ve made a detailed and accurate list.

All you need to do now is perform the daily tasks — now you’re engaging your work more effectively.

The GTD big picture

As a business leader, your day often starts with a well-laid-out schedule. It may involve delegating some tasks, meetings, making phone calls, checking email inbox, etc.

But, regardless of how much you plan the day, things always seem to go off the track. Perhaps something you hadn’t anticipated will come up, and you must find time to address them.

Often, the solution is finding a time management solution that allows you to transition from one task to the next at the right time. However, this does not mean you’re completing tasks or moving the needle but instead merely pushing them to the next step or moving them into the future.

The Getting Things Done method offers a more effective solution. Rather than switching across tasks or haphazardly trying to remember what to do, it helps you complete tasks faster. 

To get the most out of the GTD system, you’ll need to use a combination of productivity techniques and tools. These include a:

Final thoughts on the Getting Things Done method

The modern business ecosystem is fast-paced, continuously evolving, and very competitive. There’s absolutely no room for inefficiency. The Getting Things Done method is a significant first step to increasing productivity. However, you’ll need to accompany it with a reliable productivity tool.

Hubstaff is a solution that helps businesses switch from being overwhelmed by too many tasks to growing successful companies. It makes it easy to manage and log time for remote teams. Schedule a free demo today to take your business to the next level with Hubstaff.


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