Getting Things Done, also referred to as “GTD,” is a work/life management approach that is based on the principle that you have to get things out of your head and recorded in a system you can trust. This frees your mind from the job of remembering everything that you need to do, and allows it to concentrate fully on actually doing those things.
Central to the GTD method is a simple thought process that you must go through with every task or problem that you are faced with. Two questions must be answered: “What is successful outcome?” And, “What is the next action?” By clarifying what must be achieved, and then deciding on the very next physical step that is required, we can generate a clear set of next actions that can be taken as soon as we are in the right context to do them. Thus, a key part of the GTD method is creating lists of tasks that are specific to a context, such as a list of calls to make or things to do at the office.
The author of Getting Things Done, David Allen, summarizes the approach this way: “Get everything out of your head. Make decisions about actions required on stuff when it shows up–not when it blows up. Organize reminders of your projects and the next actions on them in appropriate categories. Keep your system current, complete, and reviewed sufficiently to trust your intuitive choices about what you’re doing (and not doing) at anytime.”