5 Steps To Getting Things Done (GTD)

3 min read
getting things done

Getting things done might seem simple, but in practice, it can be hard to implement. The purpose of this post is to teach you a way to implement GTD into your own life. GTD is a very powerful system that can help you accomplish more, manage stress, and relieve anxiety. I will share with you my 5 steps on how you should go about getting things done.

GTD stands for “Getting Things Done” is a productivity framework that gives you a simple process of building a to-do list. It’s a popular system that helps you get more things done and allows you to relax more.

What exactly is GTD?

The Getting Things Done (GTD) is a way of organizing your life that ensures productivity and efficiency. Now, you probably think that such a clichèd phrase wouldn’t make your life any easier, but it will if you follow the GTD methodology, as described by David Allen. It will help you get things done, both at home and at work.

In essence, the GTD is a tool that assists you: micromanaging, being in control of your life, and thereby, staying at the top of your game.

Why do you need GTD?

Your brain is cluttered, and that’s a fact. Ever feel like a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode with all the information crammed? Losing focus from this constant buzz in your head that won’t go away? Yeah? That’s your stress. This is where the GTD comes into play because it is a mind-clearing strategy, which is all about emptying your brain and transferring your ideas, tasks, and assignments.

How to use it?

It is a simple five-step process. Five. Let me walk you through the steps.


The first step means “capturing” all that you need to or want to do. To do this,

  • Capture all your ideas, tasks, projects, to-dos, commitments, etc., and trap them in an external object that is not your brain.
  • Put them down on paper, or make a list on your laptop, or even make a slideshow. It is entirely up to you.

This is your in list. Once you have done this, your brain will feel free, acquire better clarity, and be less chaotic, making you ready for the next step.


Processing entirely focuses on dealing with the ideas and to-dos that you have put down. For successful processing, ask yourself if the idea or to-do item that you have captured is actionable. Can you act on it? It goes something like this:

Is it actionable?

  • If YES,

Can you complete it in two minutes or less?

  • < 2 min = Go ahead, do it. For example, calling the doctor’s office for an appointment.
  • 2 min = Put it in an “actions” list, scheduling it. Ex. Applying for a new job
  • If NO, you can:
    • Trash it.
    • Keep it as a reference for future use.
    • Put it in the someday/maybe list.

So, each of the information or ideas in your captivity needs to be processed this way.


Here is where your ideas and to-dos are categorized, labeled, and tagged appropriately. Fundamentally, there are three categories under which your “actions” can be classified, they are:

  • Projects – Large actions that require many small steps to be completed.
  • Time-related –Actions that are influenced by time. This includes actions that need to be completed on time, where time is the crucial factor, such as birthdays, deadlines; and actions where we are waiting for others to complete their tasks to do ours. The latter list can be conveniently labeled as the “waiting for” list.
  • Context-based –Similar actions that share some common elements can go into the context category. For instance, the list of people you need to reply to can be put under a single “context” list.

While organizing actions might appear simple enough, they can be a little frustrating.

It is essential to organize with the utmost diligence in a way that you will be comfortable with. Taking into consideration the next possible action would be the best course of action to complete this step.

Organizing will help you function better and focus on each action properly. Though basic, this step is the most vital one.


Reviewing helps you keep track of things and lets you know in which direction your life is headed. In addition, reviewing is also helpful for prioritizing actions and making necessary changes. For successful reviewing, try this:

  • Review periodically, say every week; and review your progress towards your goals monthly.
  • Look through your Trigger words. These are nothing but keywords that help you remember the things that you didn’t add to one of your lists. For example Boss, colleague, blue file, etc.

Weekly reviews are a “critical factor for success,” admits David Allen himself. Therefore, going over your lists and tracking changes reveals your progress or decline.


This is the step where all your detailed planning becomes action. It is the “it-step” that goes a long way in making you successful in whatever area you choose.

We’ve outlined just a few of the biggest components of GTD, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. However, we hope that this helps you get started with tracking your goals and ultimately gives you a sense of control over your tasks and your schedule as well. We wish you luck as you set out on your productivity journey!

P.s if you are looking for other productivity methodologies, you might enjoy our guide to time blocking.