Getting Things Done: A Simple Step-By-Step Guide

Todoist syncs across platforms — computer, phone, web browser, email client, smartwatch, or smart home assistant — so you can enter tasks anytime, from anywhere. While GTD requires an upfront investment in time and energy to set up, it pays off with consistent use. You’ll no longer worry about forgetting a deadline or missing an important task.

what does gtd stand for

Context defines a place, person, time, situation, or tool you need to carry out a particular task. By identifying the needed context of each task, you’ll be better able to identify when you can complete a particular action item. You want to be able to review these later, but you don’t want them gumming up your system now.

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In the GTD system, this is the only thing that’s ever written on your to-do list (whereas most people subconsciously tend to write a lot of other things on there too). This framework makes it easier to start projects, take the next steps necessary and eventually get them completed. GTD is the commonly used acronym for the time management and productivity method called Getting Things Done ®. Schedule your weekly review by setting up a recurring date in any task field.

what does gtd stand for

While strict GTD isn’t for everyone, you’re bound to pick up a habit or two that will help you worry less and do more. Everyone interested in being less stressed and more productive should try it at least once. For a full guide on how to add and use labels in Todoist visit our Help Center.


If you don’t wish to act on them, you can put them in a folder for a day later that month or move it to a future month. In GTD, your inbox is a concept that describes all the stuff you have taken out of your brain and put down on paper or in a digital recording format. It includes your to-dos, goals, projects, the information you want to retain, ideas you don’t want to forget, and more. When you follow the GTD system, the next action you take becomes intuitive because it’s informed by the defining, sorting, and organizing you have previously done. Not all tasks can be done at all times, in all situations and places. Identifying the proper context a task requires helps you identify what you should spend your time when.

Allen observed that our brains are much better at processing information than storing it (“your head’s a crappy office”). His GTD method lays out how to dump all your mental clutter into an external system and then organize it so you can focus on the right things at the right times. When your GTD workflow is set up right, you’ll be able to confidently answer “what should I be working on? ” at any given moment without worrying that you might forget something important you need to do later. Because they need more than one step to complete – they become a project.

Beyond the GTD Meaning: What is Getting Things Done actually about?

All content on this website, including dictionary, thesaurus, literature, geography, and other reference data is for informational purposes only. This information should not be considered complete, up to date, and is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a legal, medical, or any other professional. The weekly review is a powerful productivity ritual regardless of whether you GTD or not, so we wrote a standalone guide for how to run your weekly review.

You incubate the things you don’t need to take action on right now but might need to in the future. They are ads for software you’d like to buy someday, a profile of a hotel you’d like to visit sometime, or an idea for a blog post you could write about next year. By identifying and evaluating these, you can see if you are doing the right projects. These are your commitments or responsibilities that will take more than one action item to complete.

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Typical areas of focus include fitness, family, personal development, career, and finances. These are categories, not tasks that are ever complete, but they are often the source of goals and inspiration for projects. For instance, in the area of focus called Family, you may have a goal to teach your kids about their heritage. From this, you create a project to plan a 3-week trip to France to show them where their grandparents grew up.

  • He wrote the book called Getting Things Done, The Art of Stress-Free Productivity back in 2001 (updated in 2015) and it’s developed a cult-like following over the years.
  • See your Todoist tasks in your Google Calendar and your Google Calendar events in Todoist.
  • Add your most important task views to your favorites so they appear at the top of your navigation menu above your Projects list.
  • This framework makes it easier to start projects, take the next steps necessary and eventually get them completed.
  • Incubating’s purpose is to eliminate distractions and reduce stress.

While editing a task, you can click on the Schedule field and select a date and time from the calendar. Or simply type the due date and/or time into the task field using natural language, for example, next Monday at 8am. The smart Quick Add will automatically recognize and highlight the due date and add it when you save the task. You can even type in recurring due dates, like every other Wednesday, for tasks that repeat on a regular basis. Identify the next action for each project by tagging it with the label “@next.”  To add a label, simply type “@” into the task field and start typing the task name. To keep things simple, finish setting up your GTD system first to get a sense of your workflow.

Who is David Allen?

By considering each one, you can evaluate your life choices and how you’re spending your time to ensure you focus on the right priorities to live the life you want. Todoist is what is gtd simple to use yet flexible enough to fit whichever workflow you settle on. It’s tempting to go overboard and start creating labels for everything — resist the temptation.

what does gtd stand for

Email, snail mail, text, social media, work networks, etc. – it is almost impossible to keep up. He wrote the book called Getting Things Done, The Art of Stress-Free Productivity back in 2001 (updated in 2015) and it’s developed a cult-like following over the years. But actually the true GTD meaning is a system or a method for getting things done that was founded by productivity guru, David Allen. Usually, it is small enough to be done in a single sitting or without interruption.

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You can incubate these kinds of items by either putting them on a Someday/Maybe list, on a future date in your calendar, or in the Tickler File. Incubating’s purpose is to eliminate distractions and reduce stress. Capture, or collect, is what you do first when implementing the GTD framework in your life. This is the step where you identify all the “stuff” you give attention to in life. They may be fleeting thoughts, recurring questions, ongoing projects, long-term goals, and more.

what does gtd stand for

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