David Allen – GTD system – Practical Personal Productivity

“Use your mind to think about things, rather than think of them. You want to be adding value as you think about projects and people, not simply reminding yourself they exist.”David Allen

We live in a world that is full of demands, requirements, deadlines and disruptions.

How can someone overcome the challenges this posits and enjoy the benefits?

One way is by developing a sound system of personal productivity (so-called,Action Management) that allows for macro-planning but at the same time for getting the everyday tasks done towards achieving our goals in life.

A great system that be-frees our potential can be found in David Allen’s – Getting Things done (GTD).

The system cannot be explained in one blog post so, I will try to provide an introduction here.

Keep on reading if you want to find out the basic tenets and thinking about this system as well as a presentation that goes through and additional resources for putting a concrete Action Management system in your life.

David Allen

David Allen

 

INTRODUCTION

Action Management can be defined as the process of creating a system in your life that helps you stay on top of your tasks, projects, aims and maintain an excellent work effort.

 

GTD system’s basic tenets

“You can do anything, not everything” David Allen. 

 

David Allen GTD system is formed around two basic axes:

1) Capture your thoughts.

The idea is that we are burdened by the constant flow of thoughts and actions that come to our minds.

As you may have noticed these may be in irrelevant random order or in sequence.

Worrying about forgetting something to be done, relying purely on memory alone is quite a stress in itself.

Tests have provided strong indications that the average person can retain around the 7 items in a list. Check this out when you test your memory when going to the supermarket. Some details can be found here.

In modern Western societies especially when we are constantly dealing with conflicting demands the magical number 7 is really low when compared to the amount of tasks one needs to retain to accomplish his /her goals.

Moreover, when the focus and stress is on retaining the menial tasks that need to be done to get by, one may lose the opportunity to create the necessary “mindspace” to think about the grander picture.

So, capturing your thoughts is very handy and be-freeing.

2) Focus on the Next Action

David’s system does not subscribe to the ABC rule (see here) but breaks down the projects in individual tasks (a task may be defined as something that can be accomplished in 20 minutes or less) and then urges us to focus only on the next step – next action towards achieving our goal.

As Master Yoda might say “do, or do not” – there is no priority C.  🙂

Of course, the system can be modified to use e.g. the Pomodoro technique for focus management (considering accomplishment of individual tasks) and the ABC method  to plan your projects and what comes first during your weekly/ monthly / yearly reviews. You can use SCAMPER for this (see here and here)

Working in small chunks is aligned with the idea elaborated before in the blog post “how to eat an elephant” and is used extensively by successful professionals.

Whatever productivity system you choose to work with, focusing on the next action in an invaluable tool.

 

PRESENTATION

The below presentation is elaborating on the GTD system and its main tenets.

 

 

 

Special thanks to Beth Wilton for collaborating in the development of the presentation.

 

If you are interested some further reading have a look at multitasking and ways to approach it (here).

 

 

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Image courtesy of http://www.thelegacyproject.co.za

 

About George Vrakas
George Vrakas (MBA, CCMP, CMILT) is highly reputed in the fields of Contract and Relationship Management as well as, Services Procurement and Logistics with extensive experience in Contract Management, Procurement and Supply Chain. George is passionate about Contract Management, Procurement, Innovation, Continuous Improvement, Exploring trends that will shape the Future, Team Development and the Modernisation and Automation of processes. George is a member of IACCM. George is the author of www.georgevrakas.com blog and has presented on Globalisation, Procurement and Continuous Improvement at various venues and Universities in Victoria, Australia.

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