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5 Easy Tips for Getting Started with the GTD Method

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Are you overwhelmed by thousands of things on your mental to-do-list? Are you having trouble finding the motivation, or direction in completing all of your tasks efficiently?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, the Getting Things Done Method may be just what you need. Don’t worry, getting started with the GTD method doesn’t have to be complicated.

GTD stands for Getting Things Done®. It is an insanely useful productivity tool lined out in the book of the same name by David Allen. If you have read the original copy, consider getting the 2015 all-new updated version  .

It’s a really handy tool that you can apply to everyday tasks to ensure that you carry them out efficiently while staying productive. It is the perfect way to organize your busy life while staying on top of your tasks like an everyday superhuman!

get things done written on board

This concept is just as simple as it sounds. In fact, you can start organizing your life in no time by following these 5 tips for getting started with the GTD Method.

1. Be Intentional

When approaching any task, regardless of what the task is, it is important to enter with intent. Imagine starting a project at work without knowing exactly what you intend on accomplishing. You’ll probably end up falling over your own feet, not knowing which direction to go next.

The GTD Method can be applied similarly to work projects. It is important to ask yourself some qualifying questions:

“What do I wish to accomplish?”
“Do I have a specific set of tasks that I wish to organize?”
“Do I need general organization for my busy lifestyle?”

Ask yourself these questions, set your intent, and decide what you want to accomplish with the GTD Method. Knowing what the “prize” is will give you a reason and a purpose to implement the method fully.

2. Gather your Tools

Since the GTD Method revolves primarily around you being organized, it is important to collect some organizational tools before you get started.

office desktop with pen and paper on table

Now, the tools that you decide on is completely dependent on your preferred style of organizing. Typically there are two main ways individuals implement this method:


Luckily, we live in a technological era. So if you do everything on your phone or PC, you have the option of downloading a digital organizer to your smartphone or tablet.

One of the most popular ways to do this is to use a free Evernote account. I’ll warn you, the setup may seem daunting but it really is worth the effort. Here is a great video on getting things set up:

Pen and Paper

You could also decide to go simple by running to your local stationery shop and pick up a pretty spiralbound notebook. You can even go fancy and use a Moleskine . I’ve used both and prefer the Moleskine because it can fit in my purse.

You could also implement this system into your existing day planner. If you do so, refillable planners are best to use so you can add as many pages to each section as needed.


There are many people who have done the GTD method with both digital and paper systems.

3. Collect, and Organize

Now that you have everything that you need, it is time to start collecting and organizing your data. I’m sure you already have plenty of to-do tasks running around your mental calendar.

girl writing to-do list in her notebook

Take a step back, relax and “label” your tasks, step-by-step, using your organizational tools. Once you have a visual presentation of what you need to accomplish, you can start crossing tasks off your to-do list in no time!

This is the process GTD users call the “brain dump”. Think of a dump truck backing up and quickly unloading all items at the dump.

This is what you are doing. The items don’t have to be in order or context. The goal is simply to get them out of your head and onto the paper.

4. Practice Makes Perfect

Nothing becomes perfect without practice. Organizing your life, similarly, doesn’t happen overnight. You need to practice, practice, practice!

You may find that your method of organization isn’t quite helping you do everything that you need to do. In this case, you can adjust your tasks, and keep trying until you get it right!

5. Keep it Simple

There is no need to overcomplicate the GTD Method. In fact, once you get the hang of it, you’ll probably find that the method is actually quite simple. Overcomplicating this method will only confuse you, which will throw you off balance.

Now that you have the tips, its time to apply the GTD Method for yourself. There’s no need to work yourself up by questioning how you will get twenty things done in one day.

Find your intent, gather your tools, organize your tasks, practice, and keep it simple. By following these basic tips, you’ll be well on your way to an organized and productive lifestyle!