Blog / Productivity

What is the Getting Things Done (GTD) productivity method?

Jul 27, 2022

Philip Brown
Philip Brown Founder of Prise

Getting Things Done (also known as GTD) is one of the most popular productivity methods for organising and processing the tasks you need to complete. It’s a particularly effective method if you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything you need to remember and do.

One of the core philosophies of the Getting Things Done method is to get the things you need to do out of your head and into a system to be organised and processed. The human brain is better for processing information, rather than storing it. Getting everything you need to remember out of your head also significantly reduces anxiety because you no longer have to be worried about remembering everything.

Once you have dumped everything into an external system you can begin to organise and process by following a set of simple steps.

How does the Getting Things Done method work?

The Getting Things Done method is essentially 5 steps. Each step is used to organise and process the things you need to do or remember.

Capture: Capture everything you need to do or remember. This could be tasks, events, reminders, or anything else that is shaped like a task.

Clarify: Once you have captured everything you need to do, you need to break each thing down into clear next steps. If something is still vague or unknown, you should keep clarifying it until you have a clear action item.

Organise: Organise your tasks, events, projects, and notes so that everything is sorted into the correct place.

Review: Periodically review all of your lists of things to do, projects, notes, and events.

Engage: Start working on the important things you need to do first.

When would the Getting Things Done method be a good choice?

The Getting Things Done method is a really good system if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of things you need to remember and do on a daily basis. If one of the things that causes you anxiety is making sure you remember all of the little details, following a system like Getting Things Done can help alleviate that anxiety.

Getting Things Done is also particularly useful if you are required to wear lots of hats. For example, if you’re a startup founder, freelancer, or a maker manager that is often working on a wide variety of tasks and responsibilities.

What are the negative aspects of the Getting Things Done method?

There are a couple of negative aspects of the Getting Things Done method that you need to be aware of before adopting it. The first thing to consider is that Getting Things Done requires a significant upfront investment in time and energy to set up. This investment can pay off with consistent usage over a long period of time, but if you are just looking at experimenting it might not be worth the effort.

Secondly, the Getting Things Done method incentivises you to complete lots of short tasks. This can be seductive because organising lists and reviewing tasks into bite size chunks can feel like productive work, when it’s actually not.

However, the biggest consequence of this is that, if you find yourself acting like an assembly worker cranking out a long list of small tasks, you probably won’t tackle the big, audacious tasks that require longer, more sustained effort.

Prise can take you beyond the Getting Things Done method

Prise aims to take many of the wonderful aspects of the Getting Things Done method and reduce the investment and meta work required to make it work. Prise is particularly useful if you are feeling overwhelmed and you have anxiety about forgetting all of the small details. Prise is also specifically built for founders and freelancers, two groups of people in particular who are required to have a variety of roles and responsibilities on a daily basis.

However, unlike the Getting Things Done method, Prise doesn’t require a significant upfront investment. In fact, Prise is specifically built to amplify your effort, instead of giving you additional meta work to complete. Prise is able to prioritise both short and long term tasks, and can manage the balance between important and urgent things to do.

Prise is able to offer you real-time smart recommendations, which means you always know the most relevant thing to work on next without any additional effort on your part. Energy filters allow you to match the right task to your energy level so you are always optimising the right task for your ultradian rhythm. And auto-categorisation means that Prise has already done the heavy lifting of organising your tasks so you can concentrate on doing your best work.

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