What is GTD and why should I care?
Get Things Done (here a tutorial), is a methodology for managing your time. The main goal is to not make you think about “what should I do today” and just having a method to remember and better schedule what you need to do.
A brief and minimalistic explanation about it is: you have a continuous backlog with the list of things that you need to do (backlog), you put it in an order (backlog prioritization), and every morning you decide what you do (daily planning).
If you have used another time or task management framework, like Kanban, you will see a lot of similarities
You should care about task management if you’re feeling one or more of the following feelings about your life/work:
- A sense of not achieving anything at the end of the day
- Always forgetting to do something that you should have done
- “I would like to do it, but I don’t have time for it”
How do I start with GTD?
I think the best way to start is to use one of the trillion apps on your phone that are already there. I will give my 5 cents about some of the apps that I’ve used and what are my pain-points.
- Wuderlist: always loved it, zero fuss, really tailored as a no bullshit experience. Sadly bought by Ms and not anymore maintained ❌
- Microsoft Todo: based on wunderlist, it is really the new version with some smarted shortcuts. If you’re on a microsoft task it’s really the to do for me. Big negative for me it’s that on Android there is no integration with Android Wear, but this is a very niche feature missing. ✔️
- Google keep: I wouldn’t recommend it for GTD, it’s mostly a note taking app that had lists as an afterthought. Probably good if you want to stay completely on the Google ecosystem, but in my opinion, just use this app for notes❌
- Any.do: very good if you are/want to be a power user. Scheduling, subtasks and the option for attachments are really great depending on your personal workflow. Plus point for me the support for Android Wear. I ditched it just because I want something more basic. ✔️
- Habtica: very good and open source if you need the extra kick for doing stuff and schedule your routine. Ditched because I wanted something more basic ✔️
- Todoist: finally my current daily drive. Initially ditched because I wanted to have priorities and labelling is just available for the premium version, it became my daily driver mostly because of the integrations everywhere (Station, Franz, Android Wear, Linux (unofficially, but web is totally fine), email plugins). It just works and it forces you with the free version to not overthink it. ✔️
My personal GTD workflow
The first thing that I want to clarify is that, as any productivity framework, you will need to adapt it to your needs. If you try to go textbook always it will be bad and hurt you.
The second point that I need to clarify is that I use GTD just for my personal life and some extra tasks at work. In the company in which I work team level tasks are handled with SCRUM.
Since I want to handle tasks mostly for not forgetting them and to manage my little free time that I have from work / family I found that my best flow is the following.
Put everything I have in mind in the backlog in last position, first with a deadline if I have a real word scenario deadline. If it doesn’t have a real life deadline I won’t put a deadline.
My lists (a part from the today) are: work and someday.
Work is for extra team tasks that I need to do, and usually they don’t have priority over my normal work. Everything from preparing for meetings or ideas for getting my job easier are there
Someday is for projects, here tasks are very high level (breaking the rule of achievable stuff) and they usually need to be “groomed” and “broke down”. From those tasks are usually being created actionable tasks.
I usually don’t care if I under or overcommit for the day, I have tasks that carry on for weeks and then gets dropped. I know that if I need to do something for real I will do it and carried taks are just the one that were more there as “if I have time” usually my rule is that after 3 days or it goes to Someday, I will drop it or I will drop it.
I stopped using calendar if not for just cancelling subscriptions or things that i need to go to places and are unavoidable at that time to do them (eg. doctor appointment)