Getting Things Done: Introduction

Last Updated Jun 2, 2011 2:38 PM EDT

This column is part one of a seven part series on Getting Things Done® (GTD®) -- the time and productivity management system by David Allen.
Getting Things Done: Introduction
Before I say what I'm about to say, let it be known that (A) I've never been called an exaggerator, (B) I'm not known to over-promise, and (C), I read about a book or two a week.

There are three books that have had the greatest influence in my life. The first is the Bible. The second is a book called Getting Things Done by David Allen. (I'll write about the third book in a future column.) When I first read this book about six years ago, I didn't connect with it and just didn't get it.

I've been kind of a productivity/efficiency nut for some time, so I went into this book with great expectations -- especially after reading all the hype about it. Long story short; I read it but didn't implement the strategy. I put it in my closet with my stack of other books.

Fast forward to about a year ago. As the president of a wealth management firm during the day and someone who capitalizes on my other 8 hours at night, I found that I was drowning in projects and tasks and struggling to keep them organized, and more importantly, moving them forward.

I find that when there's too much stuff coming my way I freeze. Even when that "stuff" is good such as writing The Other 8 Hours, getting new clients, starting a non-profit, etc., I become unable to interpret new information and unsure of next actions. Classic deer-in-the-headlights syndrome.

That was me a year ago -- lots of incredible projects, ideas, and opportunities, but helpless and unable to determine where I was and what I needed to do to advance them.

Poor me, but of course there's a happy ending . . .

I came across an article on Getting Things Done online, and started reading it. Then I started devouring it. Then I frantically started searching the back of my closet for my copy of Getting Things Done.

Ugh! Couldn't find it. I was going to Vegas for a couple of days and really wanted to explore the book there (like I said, I read a lot). I couldn't find it, but thankfully there's Amazon Prime, and I had a brand new copy in time for my trip.

So I'm in Vegas with my wife trying to have a good time, but David's smiling mug on the book cover keeps drawing me in. "The Art of Stress Free Productivity" the tagline promises.

"Are you coming down with me to play poker?" my wife asks. "This is a vacation," I think. I glance at my beautiful wife -- anxious to play some poker and have some fun -- and then I glance back at David on the nightstand. "Uh, I'll be down in a few minutes," I say.
For the next four hours I'm knee-deep in Getting Things Done. For whatever reason, it makes sense this time. What was complicated before now feels right. I'm reading and underlining. I take notes, mindmap ideas (Not familiar with mindmapping? It is the best way to brainstorm and organize ideas -- more on this in a future column), and think about how I can implement the concepts in my life. I'm on a serious mental high and then I get the text, "I'm about to win a poker tournament. Get down here!" (turns out she beats 123 other players and wins $765!)

For the next three days I'm dissecting the book and figuring out which tools I'm going to use to make GTD (that's what the cool kids call the system) a part of my life. This is probably the cheesiest thing I've ever written, but even though I lost money gambling that weekend in Vegas, I hit the jackpot.

GTD has transformed my life. I've gone from trying to keep everything in my head or on notepads, to having a systematic way to address any kind of physical, electronic, or mental information. Plus, I always know where I stand with all my personal and professional projects, what next step is needed to move each project forward, and who needs to get back to me.

Nothing slips through the cracks anymore because there are no cracks. There is a place for everything. Now don't get me wrong. GTD takes time, focus, and energy, but it certainly is better than the alternative.

Here's a snapshot of GTD:

What is GTD?
System to increase:

  1. Organization
  2. Efficiency
  3. Creativity

Objectives of GTD
1. Capture everything that needs to get done

2. Put it into a trusted system

3. Review it

5 Steps of GTD
1. Collect

2. Process

3. Organize

4. Do

5. Review

If you feel inundated with too much information, if you are juggling projects and worried that you're not making the progress you want, or if you simply want some sanity in your life, get in and hang on. The GTD train is leaving the station. Are you on board?

If you have two minutes, you can take free assessment to see how much control and perspective you have over your projects and responsibilities.

Next Articles in the Getting Things Done Series:
Getting Things Done - Step 1: Collection

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This product and its maker are not affiliated with, approved or endorsed by David Allen or the David Allen Company, which is the creator of the Getting Things Done® system for personal productivity. GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company For more information on the David Allen Company's products the user may visit their website at

(Glasses image by luis de beckencourt, CC 2.0).

(Poker image by banspy, CC 2.0).

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    Robert Pagliarini is obsessed with inspiring others to create and empowering them to live life to the fullest by radically changing the way they invest their time and energy. He is the founder of Richer Life, a community of passionate people who want to learn and achieve more in life and at work. He is a Certified Financial Planner and the president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors, a boutique wealth management firm serving sudden wealth recipients and affluent individuals. He has appeared as a financial expert on 20/20, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew's Lifechangers and many others.