The last time I wrote about David Allen’s system of Getting Things Done (GTD) was 16 years ago. Lots has changed since then, but the one thing that’s remained pretty much constant is that I’ve never stopped using GTD.
The main idea behind GTD is that: if you get the things you need to do out of your head as soon as you think of them then review and organize them later, you’ll worry a lot less and get more done. That’s really all you need to know, but if you want more, this is my more-in-depth GTD review after a decade and a half.
As soon as I think of something to do, I add it to my inbox. The inbox is a general purpose list that makes sure that a task isn’t forgotten. It should be super easy to add to your inbox. I use OmniFocus to track todos but, the default Apple Reminders app is also surprisingly capable. Whatever you choose, make sure you know how to use it well and trust it. Don’t over-complicate.
Once I’ve got time to organize my todo list, which I try to do every couple days, I move tasks out of the inbox and into specific projects.
I use lists in a very broad, contextual way rather than grouping tasks by lots of projects. By that I mean that my “work” list is just called “work,” even though I’m always working on a lot of different projects at work. Similarly, “home” is the only list I have for stuff around the house. If I need to filter down to a specific project, I’ll either nest tasks, or filter by tags to narrow in focus.1
Every couple weeks (I should probably do it more), I review all my lists, clean things up and re-prioritize. If any task I encounter takes less than 2 minutes, I do it right then.
That’s pretty much it. And it works.
A final reminder, be careful to avoid introducing micro-frictions that more complicated systems and software introduce. Start with an easy system, then iterate it over time.
1The GTD book has a much more involved system using Contexts and Projects, but I’ve found that the above is enough most of the time.