Getting Shit Done

Getting Sh!t Done, the "Getting Things Done" Way

October 27, 2017

Ever hear of David Allen (@gtdguy)? He’s kind of a big deal. He came up with a process for getting things done called “Getting Things Done”. Sounds too good to be true, huh? We would tell you to go Google it right now so that you can see how popular it is, but we really want you to read our article, so just trust us.

Despite the underwhelming name, people go nuts for Getting Things Done and David Allen has a cult-like following. So, since a lot of really smart people believe in it, we thought we’d share the quick and dirty GTD basics with you.

Cool. What is it?

Getting Things Done is essentially a (fairly complicated) way of organizing and prioritizing tasks to make them more manageable, making the work that you have to do a breezy dream rather than a suffocating nightmare.

Neat! How does it work?

Our boy David (we’re pretty sure he’d want us to call him David…) breaks things down into 5 steps. We’re going to simplify the process here, not because we don’t believe that you could handle it, but because we want to check this blog post off of our to do list. GTD focuses on how you capture what you need to do, how you organize your tasks, and how you allocate your attention to said tasks. Check out Dave’s 5 “pillars”:

Handcuffed hands checking off tasks

Step 1 - Capture

Capture everything. Dave quotes himself on the front page of his website and it’s pure gold: “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them”. His point is to get all of the ideas that you have and all the tasks that you have to do out of your head and into an “external brain” as soon as you think them. (GTD doesn’t recommend a specific tool for this part, but you know we do! Bzzy in da hizzy!) Whatever tool you use needs to be easy and accessible so that you will use it all the time whenever a new task comes to mind. (Did we mention Bzzy is really good for this? We mean... it’s available on mobile and desktop.)

A portrait of a puppy

Step 2 - Clarify

You’re going to want to rush through this one, we know. But show a little restraint. Spend the time to break down your to do items into the actionable tasks that you’ll actually be doing. Put enough detail into it so that you don’t have to spend precious processing power trying to figure out what the H-E-double hockey sticks you meant when you wrote it down in the first place. For example, don’t just write “Dog Glamour Shots”, write down “Schedule appointment with pro dog photographer”, “Get dog groomed”, “Find sassy outfit for dog”, “Find matching sassy outfit for self”, and so on.

A trash can labeled 'urgent'

Step 3 - Organize

Organize actional items by category and priority. Assign due dates where you can. Smack those tasks with some hashtag love. (We’re ready for that phrase to catch on. You can use it.) Use hashtags to easily group tasks as you’re typing them. Click the little calendar button or type the exclamation mark to conjure the calendar and add a quick due date. Then get to dragging and dropping so that your more important tasks are at the top of the list.

A person reflecting on their reflection

Step 4 - Reflect

Reflect on your to do list to determine what your next action should be. If you did what we told you to do before with the clarifying step, you should be able to quickly see tasks that you can get to work on. If something looks super vague to you, go back and bust it up into smaller chunks. On occasion, you’ll want to give your whole to do list a good look-see to make sure you’re still working on the right stuff. If you’re still on track, perhaps you need to reward yourself with an adult beverage before you jump into the next step. (This is definitely not part of the standard GTD Methodology, but you’ve worked hard!)

a martini being poured our

Step 5 - Engage

What are you waiting for?! Sober up and get to work! You’ve laid all the ground word for you to be successful. You know what to work on and when. Make it happen, boss.

Now what?

Knowing how to be productive doesn’t necessarily mean that you will. Stay tuned for future blog posts about staying focused long long enough to do it, and getting in the habit of being productive so that you can get things done.