Make Getting Things Done Your Own and Stay Sane

May 5, 2020 · 2 min read

Silver MacBook turned on Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

I have a love/hate relationship with Getting Things Done (GTD).

It has massively increased my productivity.

GTD basically means:

  • put everything you need to do into one place
  • put it into projects, into a someday/maybe list, or into trash
  • use actionable to-dos ("outline article about Getting Things Done" instead of "write")
  • prioritize it, and work on it in manageable pieces

I personally use Todoist to manage my to-dos. With their flexible but focused tool, you can build most to-do list systems, or build your own! I love their recurring tasks with which I plan, e.g., chores around the house, or to clear out my junk-email folder.

But sometimes, it feels overwhelming. It feels more like managing my to-do list than actually making meaningful progress.

The most important part about any system you set up for your life is to adjust it for your needs.

Here’s what I do about this:

  • Rigorously delete to-dos. This is necessary, there always accumulates stuff I thought was important that really isn't.
  • Take time to explore my values, and my long- and medium-term goals. Write them down and regularly check in with them.
  • Review the projects I worked on each week. Check if I stuck to my plans and if they are still important to me. (This is part of GTD).
  • Plan my week in another system, free from my to-dos to focus on my medium- and long-term goals. Roam Research is awesome for this
  • Put that plan into Todoist and organize the other to-dos I discover there around my important tasks.
  • Use a 1-3-5 approach to priorities. One must-do task, three should-do tasks and five could-do tasks. Be content with my day when I only complete my must-do.

To remind myself of these regular reviews, I use, you guessed it, Todoist's recurring tasks. And a pre-defined set of questions in Roam.

Work not only on urgent tasks. Make time for what is important to you.