The Philosophy of Getting Things Done

  • Kate Borucka
  • February 12, 2018
  • 4 min read

Getting Things Done (GTD)

Everyone struggles with productivity. In contemporary times it is one of the main issues when it comes to work or even our private life. Employees struggle with getting things done on time meanwhile attempting to stay creative and productive. This process often brings disappointment and results in lack of motivation.

Getting things done is not only an act of performing tasks with the objective of finishing them. It is also a method of accomplishing our daily goals by being productive and setting up clear boundaries. But setting these boundaries is not as simple as it may seem. Thus, today we will take a closer look at the method of GTD – getting things done.

What Does It Mean to Get Things Done?


The method was invented and described by productivity consultant David Allen, in his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. And it can be described in one sentence, as expressed by the author:

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”

So let’s break this sentence into bits and pieces. Generally, the idea is not to keep anything in our head but simply do it. Abstractly speaking, human’s mind serves as a tool for generating thoughts and plans. But we tend to keep them for ourselves. The philosophy of getting things done aims at setting those thoughts free from our mind. In other words, if you have your goals for today planned, or even for next week, month or a year, don’t just keep them in your head. Let them define your work and process of carrying out projects.

Getting things done means to implement all your ideas into life and act accordingly to a certain schedule. So if you know you need to do something and have a more or less specific plan of doing those things in your head, GTD is a good practice for you.

5 Steps of GTD


Allen distinguished 5 crucial steps in getting things done. If you want to achieve your goals, either short or long-distance, here’s what you should do.

Collect what has your attention

In this step of getting things done, you will have to gather every single plan, idea or thought that you have in your mind. Anything that can bring you closer to achieving your goal. You can do it in a form of a to-do list, sticky notes, timetable, whatever suits you most. The idea is not to forget about anything and include all objectives, those smaller and large ones. Make sure nothing flees your attention so that you can come to the next step.

Process what it means

Once you gathered all your ideas or plans, prepare for selection. Get rid of those which you know you won’t be able to achieve. Cross them out and don’t bother with them. They will only clutter your mind. Take care of those which can be done in a short period of time. Then do the rest accordingly. If you can, you may want to delegate your tasks and save your time.

Put it where it belongs

Of course, it will be more difficult to stick to the plan of getting things done if you don’t organize your tasks and plans according to categories. Everything should be clear and prioritized. It will be easier to perform particular activities when you divide them into different groups. By that, you will avoid confusion and unproductive multitasking.

Review frequently

Always make updates to your list of things to do. Cross out those which are outdated or make a tick next to the finished ones. Look back at what you managed to do, then make list for the next day, week, month. This will help you have a clear head and always keep your eyes on the long-distance goal.

Simply do

The fifth step is all about putting the theory into action. The previous steps should clear your path to getting things done. Once you prioritize and stick to all 5 GTD steps, you will easily achieve your goals.



All you have to do in order to achieve your goals is to clear your head, throw aside those ideas that will not be possible to accomplish and always stick to your system. You don’t have to strictly follow these 5 steps. You may think about your own structure of organizing work based on the philosophy of GTD. Only make sure you are able to get rid of all unproductive ideas. That way you wil reach your goals within a short period of time. And next tasks and projects will be finished sooner than you think. Good luck!

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