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Getting Things Done

December 20, 2009 by

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Do you want to be more productive with your time?  Do you want to stay on top of everything for which you are responsible?  David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity is about how to do just that.  In somewhat of a contrast to Steven Covey’s top-down approach of time management, Allen presents a bottom-up model for “getting things done” or “GTD,” as it is often called.  His model is comprised of five phases: collecting, processing, organizing, reviewing, and doing.  The basic idea is that everything is gathered in some form outside your head and collected in a paper inbox or email inbox.  Then each item is evaluated to determine what, if anything needs to be done.  Tasks that need to be done at a certain time are placed on the calendar.  Tasks that may be accomplished in less than two minutes are done immediately and the remaining tasks are placed on a “next action” list, grouped by the context in which they must be accomplished – i.e. at work, at home, at a telephone, at a computer, etc…  Each week, the calendar, the projects, and the “next action” lists are reviewed to make sure everything is on track.  The GTD system may be implemented by high tech users with smartphones, PDAs, computers, and other gadgets, by low tech users with paper and pencil, or by a combination of both high and low tech tools.  The principles remain the same.

Key Concepts:

  • Write everything down
  • Enter tasks and projects in a system that you really trust
  • Use do-able language on your next action list (Verb, Subject, Object – “Call Bill about Training”)
  • Organize reference materials
  • Review your lists

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About Jonathan Parsons
Jonathan thinks and writes about practical aspects of missionary service to help train and equip missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission. Jonathan ministered in East Africa with the International Mission Board. He now serves in the International Ministries office at the headquarters of Word of Life Fellowship coordinating logistical and administrative matters. He and his wife Amy live in the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York.

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