Join David Allen for an in-depth discussion in this video Overview of Getting Things Done, part of Getting Things Done.
Getting things done is a set of practices that I have researched and tested over many, many years. It's really not about time management, it's really more about how do we manage our focus, how do we manage our attention. So, on a quick overview of how it all hangs together is really five steps. These five steps, I didn't really make them up, I just started to understand what really goes on when we get things under control. Like, if you've ever had your kitchen out of control, what did you do to get it back in stable ground so you could focus on cooking dinner? Well you actually go through five steps, whether it's your kitchen or your company or anything that you want to get under control.
Quite simply the first step is to capture and to recognize anything that's not on cruise control and you need to identify those things. So you need to capture or collect anything that may be out of place or not exactly where it needs to be the way, the way it needs to be. The second thing you do with it is that you make decisions about what it is that you captured. And clarify exactly what those things mean to you. In other words, is it something to move on or not? Is it something that belongs where it is? Does it represent something else that I need to keep track of? Once you do that, if you've captured all those things, then you've clarified what they mean, then you want to organize the results of that thinking.
Organization just means, I need to park these things where they go so I don't have to keep rethinking them, or have them still bother me or some how distract me from what I'm doing. So, we capture things first, we clarify exactly what they mean and then you need to organize those into appropriate categories, so that you don't, you're not confused about how things, you know, hang together and what to do with it. Now once you've done all that, then you need to step back and review and reflect on what all of this mean. Sort of the larger Gestalt, the larger picture, the larger inventory of what all of these things are.
Once you've done that, I've captured the things that have my attention, clarified exactly what they mean, parked them where they go and stepped back and see the whole picture. That's when I can start to make good, trusted, intuitive choices about what exactly I do, and how do I allocate my resources about all of that. So to take an example of your kitchen, you walk in, gee, it's out of control. I need to decide what are the things and capture the things that aren't where they need to be. So, you, you know, start cleaning it up. You start gathering things together. And then you say, well what exactly are these? Does that belong in the refrigerator? Does that go in the trash? And then you step back, and you maybe pull out your recipe.
Take a look, make sure you have all the ingredients, and then you start actually making dinner. So it's a common, common sense kind of thing. It's a common approach to how we do all of that; however, applying that in a much more sophisticated way in the kind of world that we're dealing with. The speed and volume of input that we're all having to manage on an hour by hour basis, applying those principles actually are something that people don't automatically or naturally seem to do, it's actually something you would need to learn how to do. And you can get much better at. So getting things done is really the methodology of those best practices put together in such a way, so that you can surf on top of your life and your work and not be distracted by it.
And you'd be fully present with what you're doing.
NEW for 2015: In an exclusive bonus chapter, David Allen answers some of the most frequently asked questions he receives about Getting Things Done, including why GTD is different and how it can scale for larger teams and organizations.