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My New Year's Resolution: Getting Organized with GTD

by Stephan Spencer  |  
January 1, 2007

I've read most of the excellent book "Getting Things Done" by productivity guru David Allen. And now I'm ready to transform the way I work and live -- to get everything out of my head and into a system....

I want my mind clear so that I can be at my creative best and (relatively) stress-free. "Mind like water," as David Allen says.
I'm going to stop using my brain to keep track of important tasks and to-dos and rely on triggers like my calendar and Next Actions list.
And I'm going to keep "the big picture" in focus by doing weekly reviews.
In other words, I'm going to implement "GTD" (which is the term fans of David Allen use to refer to his "Getting Things Done" approach to productivity).
If this sounds intriguing to you, then I encourage you to check out a couple great little primers on GTD here and here. Also listen to David Allen's podcasts. And of course buy the book.
One of the key steps in implementing GTD is choosing the right electronic or paper system. After much research I've opted for Journler. This is a Mac program, and since I'm on a Mac, that suits me well. Other Mac options I seriously considered were kGTD and DevonThink Pro.
For those of you on Windows, you may want to look at the GTD Outlook Add-in, ClearContext for Outlook, MyLifeOrganized, TimeTo, Easy Task Manager or ThinkingRock (note that the latter two both run on the Mac too), or a web-based system like Tracks, GTD V2, Backpack, MonkeyGTD or ActiveCollab. Or better yet, just switch to a Mac. ;-)
Now on to migrating my hundreds of tasks and ideas from Word documents into Journler...
Anyone else feel like their life is spinning out of control? Or am I the only one? ;-)
Any GTD aficionados reading this? If so, how has GTD made you a better marketer/businessperson?

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Stephan Spencer is the founder of Science of SEO and an SEO expert, author, and speaker.

LinkedIn: Stephan Spencer

Twitter: @sspencer

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  • by Ewan McIntosh Mon Jan 1, 2007 via blog

    Hi Stephen, I used GTD when I started afresh with a new, complex job 18 months ago and have never looked back. Right enough, I'm blogging on New Year's Day but I am not stressed by work or life at all (even with the Mother In Law staying over) since things just get done, and, importantly, I know they will get done. I've also got a promotion, pay rise and more consultancy work in my field of how education can be made more efficient, interesting and better 'marketed' to young people than I've ever had before. I've not changed but the way I work has. Happy clearing out. It's a nice experience when it's all done.

  • by Stephan Spencer Mon Jan 1, 2007 via blog

    Thanks Ewan, for sharing your story and for the words of encouragement! GTD is really empowering. I'm really pumped about it!

  • by Mario Vellandi Tue Jan 2, 2007 via blog

    I'm almost finished with the GTD book too! I started it a couple months ago, did some changes, fell out of line, then started again...and found myself at Target picking up some paper trays. Then I cleaned up and organized all the files on my computer, making 3 Reference folders for business, general, and education. Now I just have to re-install Google desktop for the calendar application and I'm good to go. One more thing, I discovered Basecamp from and have started with their one free project plan and'll see where it goes. I've recommended it to a client and I look forward to managing projects better, any way I can.

  • by Frank Meeuwsen Tue Jan 2, 2007 via blog

    Hi Stephan, Glad to see you are checking out GTD. For me, it has been a lifesaver. I started 2 years ago and to this day I am so glad I found this principle. But be warned, it takes time! And yes, you will fall off the bandwagon. Especially when things get rough at work and tasks pile up, it's easy to step down and let go of the Weekly Review. Want to find some more practical startingpoints? Check out these articles on my blog:

  • by Stephan Spencer Wed Jan 3, 2007 via blog

    As easy as it is to "fall off the wagon" with GTD, the good news is that it's just as easy to fall back on it!

  • by Shelley Ryan Thu Jan 4, 2007 via blog

    Stephan, what a timely post! Roy Young has suggested GTD to me, and your bloglet reminded me to get busy on this. I had no idea there were so many online tools and resources available. Thanks for sharing them so that I can check them out.

  • by Roy Young Thu Jan 4, 2007 via blog

    Recognizing the need for a system to manage time and tasks, I read David Allen's book and attended his seminars before there was a book. But, as intelligent as his system is, I could not make the behavioral change until I had the tools and coaching of McGhee Productivity Solutions ( Sally McGhee worked with David Allen at one point, so her construct is similar, but parted to build her own system based on Microsoft Outlook. Read her book, Take Back Your Life (Microsoft Press 2005), but don't expect to make the necessary changes in your life until you invest in a McGhee coach to guide you to break old habits and embrace the new system. Change like this is hard, but working at it has, as the cliche goes, changed my life.

  • by Dave Thu Feb 8, 2007 via blog

    It's funny. Stephan Spencer's comment about falling on/off the wagon in relation to GTD just re-enforces a belief of mine. New Year's Resolutions are mental Spam. More often then not it seems that when people make resolutions, they aren't in the right place, mindset, zone, whatever to actually accomplish it.

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