There are a huge of methodologies and tools to manage time and activities. One of the methods for managing activities is the method Getting Things Done (GTD). The method was created and introduced by David Allen through his book Getting Things Done.

The method GTD is based on two principles: (1) a person should focus on one task at the same time to be effective and efficient; and (2) to focus on only one action/task, the person needs to free his/her mind of other pending actions/tasks by recording them to a specific place. Thus, it is NOT necessary to remember what to do, just do it.


The method GTD has 5 phases :

  • Compile. According to the method GTD, a person should have a “inbox” (eg: a notebook) to collect everything that has to be processed or stored later. Thus, this person can free his/her mind and focus his/her attention on the action/task he/she is currently processing. Consequently, each time a person remember something that must be stored or processed, he/she will need to add it into the “inbox” and forget it.
  • Process. The method GTD proposes to process the elements of the “inbox” once or twice a day (although it may be more times). The steps in this phase are:
    1. Always start with the top of the “cube”inbox”.
    2. Don’t process more than one item at a time.
    3. Don’t send back anything to the “inbox”.
    4. If an item requires action:
      • If it takes less than two minutes, do it.
      • If it is not your task, delegate it properly.
      • Postpone it.
    1. If an item doesn’t requires action,
      • Record it as a reference.
      • Junk it if it is not appropriate.
      • Let quarantined if you can not carry it out then.
      • If you can not delegate properly, reports it for review by the relevant area.
  • Sort. The GTD method proposes a list of lists to optimize time. However, they may be more.
    1. Next Actions. List of tasks in order of completion.
    2. Projects. Most tasks require different actions to be completed. The method GTD proposes to group these actions in lists called “projects”. Thus, we can evaluate the status of each project independently.
    3. Pending. In this list, we find all actions which are waiting for the action of an external someone or something to be done. By example, a report from a colleague that you asked it for last week.
    4. Someday/Maybe. The latter list contains the actions you want to perform but it is not currently possible. A example would be ‘to learn Chinese’.
  • Review. The method GTD requires to be reviewed at least weekly all outstanding actions, projects and items “on hold ”, ensuring that all new tasks or upcoming events are included in the system and that it is updated.
  • Make. Of course, task management is not enough if the person does not perform the tasks. It is important to highlight the need for focused attention on the action or task being performed, and trusting the rest to our GTD system.