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GTD technique, manage your time more effectively to be productive.

Have you ever heard of the GTD technique? I know! It sounds like a new type of engine created in Germany but actually it has nothing to do with that. The GTD technique is a time management system created by the versatile David Allen (a man who claims to have had 35 jobs before turning 35!). Do you want to be more productive? Today we are going to discover what the GTD technique is. This technique might help you!

The acronym GTD stands for “Getting Things Done”, a time management method, which comes from the book of the same title.

The GTD technique focuses on freeing the mind from pending tasks. Therefore, it is a weapon against procrastination. At first sight, it might seem that it’s all about forgetting about your tasks and leaving them undone. But actually, it’s all about eliminating the tasks of our minds, giving them a structured exit in the form of pending tasks. So all we need to do is to keep them in a specific place so that they do not distract us from the tasks that we must carry out today, in order for us to undertake these pending tasks when the moment comes.

The GTS technique forces us to be extremely active. One of the ideas is to create exhaustive lists of very specific tasks. Write those tasks down on the list and free your mind from them. And if those tasks do not require a great amount of time, then, do not write them down; carry them out at that very moment.

It is known as the “two minute rule”. If a task can be carried out in less than two minutes, do not waste time writing it down on the list or leaving it for later, do it at that very moment.

Another goal of the GTD technique is to facilitate planning. Writing all the activities that we must carry out down on a list, helps avoid blockages and undertake longer and harder tasks with a more active attitude.

One of Allen’s ideas is that our brain is inefficient when remembering not only the tasks, but also the time and place in which we must carry them out. So writing things down is going to help you a great deal.

As expected the GTD technique has a series of comprehensive and well-structured principles. These are the main ones:


– Collect.

Allen uses the expression “cubes” (in the sense of “containers”) to designate the places where we are going to have the list of tasks that are pending. Our cubes can be agendas, notebooks, emails, etc., and our first basic function is to be aware that all pending tasks (these are the ones that we cannot carry out in just two minutes) should be collected in these cubes.

– Process.

The material that is sent to the cubes is not only there to store it, it has to be processed, and to do so, a specific order is needed.

  • Always start from the beginning. You must follow an order and do not leave tasks undone.
  • Confine yourself to one activity at a time. Each task, one at a time.
  • Do not send any element back to the “cube”. Each task must generate an action.
  • If a task needs an action:
    • If it takes less than two minutes, do it.” It is the “two minute rule”
    • If it is not your task, delegate. In that case, it will be solved by a third party.
    • Postpone. If you cannot carry out the task at that time, do it later.
  • If a tasks does not need an action:
    • File it. You might use it as reference.
    • If you can, discard it.
    • If you cannot do it at the moment, put it in quarantine.
    • If you cannot delegate it, let someone know that it has to be revised.

– Organise.

On the list of tasks that you could not solve and therefore, tasks that are pending, you can organise yourself depending on the time frame for each one of them.

  • Upcoming actions (short term): determine the actions that must be carried out immediately. They can be part of a longer chain of actions.
  • Projects (medium term): these are all those tasks that require more than one action to be carried out. They need to be reviewed periodically to check that they have an immediate action that will be carried out.
  • Pending (no specified term): these are actions delegated to third parties or that depend on some external event. It will be necessary to review them periodically to see if they have generated any action or a reminder to third parties that these must be carried out.
  • Someday/maybe (no specified term): these are actions that you want to do someday, but you do not know when or if it will be possible.

According to the author, the key to the organization of the GTD system is to have a simple and effective reminder system, so you can try the one that best suits your needs.

– Check.

Action lists and reminders should be reviewed at least daily. So that you not only carry out the simple tasks but you force yourself to follow that order.

In addition to this, it will be necessary to review the highlighted actions, projects and activities on hold, at least weekly, making sure that everything is updated in the system and nothing is left out.

– Do.

Finally, and despite the apparent complexity of the system, you should try to simplify this and make it as practical as possible, since it is not only about organising, but also about carrying out the tasks.

Moreover, Allen himself proposed a “reminder file” to sort the system, in which there are about 43 folders, 12 for each month of the year and 31 for each day of the month.

Although this might seem like a complex system, it is practised by millions of people around the world, who managed to make it a simple and effective method to manage their time. Like any time management system, there are people who found it useful and it also changed their productivity, and people who didn’t find it useful so they gave up on it.

What about you? Have you ever used the GTD method? If you have, then you can share it with us by leaving a comment in the comment section that is here below. Thank you!

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