Successful people make things happen by engaging their world in a way that it will supply them with the experiences and results they seek. An abundance of resources has emerged to help people make the right choices and ensure their execution. They remind us how to plan, set goals, get organized and help us manage our time. David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity offers the most coherent and comprehensive strategy available today – according to his growing legion of disciples. Allen makes a bold declaration in his book stating that “it’s possible for a person to have an overwhelming number of things to do and still function productively with a clear head and a positive sense of relaxed control.”
The popularity of this system, fondly referred to as GTD by its devoted adherants, is due to the massive amounts of information we are confronted with and the blurred edges between our professional and personal lives. Allen observation concerning the evolution of work since the days of the assembly line men and women is telling. He says that work has evolved into something no longer confined to the traditional “9 to 5 Forty-hour work week;” rather, work is something that we are constantly engaged in every minute of every day of every year. This constant barrage of having to be “at work” is starting to put a strain on us, and the way that we try to manage our time and our resources. There have been a number of successful systems that touted total organizational nirvana, but mostly they were glorified calendars and to-do lists. GTD touts a better way to think and engage in our daily activities with less stress and greater effectiveness.
GTD is a sophisticated system but at its core it is fueled by two basic principles: 1) Collect (or capture) everything you need to get done by writing it down so that its out of your head and in a trusted system; 2) Create “next actions” for every single input in your life. Allen guides you step-by-step through a process that for the hardcore results in a total inventory of every single item in your life and provides a method for maintaining an inventory of lists that your delete and add to. Allen also includes a method for planning and managing projects that is fundamental to GTD.
Whether you employ GTD, a hybrid or a totally different system to monitor and manage your tasks, it is becoming increasingly clear that those that are able to maintain the highest level of productivity in the relationship economy and generate more conversational currency are those that have employed systems – especially those that accelerate productivity by leveraging advancing technologies. Though I’ve recently fallen off the wagon, I’m convinced that until someone builds a better mousetrap David Allen’s methods are my preferred choice.
By using and embracing GTD, to the fullest, you will unclutter your mind, release a higher level of creativity and complete more tasks and projects than every before. So, what about you? How are you getting things done?