What is GTD? – The onepage short version

For you new to GTD, check out my first post on the subject.

GTD is simple and fun! You can make it as complex you want it to be, but if you want it to work for you – make it simple and fun! If you’re really into GTD, I suggest you read the book.

I’m asked a lot “how does it work?” so I decided to write this “one-page short version” of it – just to give you a quick overview!

Here’s what we want to do:

Get everything out of your head. Make decisions about actions required on stuff when it shows up—not when it blows up. Organize reminders of your projects and the next actions on them in appropriate categories. Keep your system current, complete, and reviewed sufficiently to trust your intuitive choices about what you’re doing (and not doing) at any time.

The five phases:

You basically got 5 phases which are:

  • Collect
  • Process
  • Organize
  • Review
  • Do!

I will give you an overview of each step.


Get everything out of your head – and I mean everything. Not a single thing should be missing because if you have stuff laying around, you’ll end up not trusting the system you’re trying to build.

If you’re just starting up – I suggest you sit down for an hour or so and just write down everything you can think of!

All these inboxes, often referred to as “buckets” could be your e-mail Inbox, a physical inbox at work, your notebook etc.


After the collection it’s time to empty all these buckets. Pick-up each item one-by-one and ask yourself “is there an action I need to take about this item?”

If there’s no Action required for this item, either throw it away or file it for reference.

If there’s a next action you can take and you can do it in less than a few minutes – DO IT NOW! Otherwise, decide on next action (ie. “call repair shop” or “read this article”) and put it to your “Next Action” list. If this is one out of several actions for something to be complete – put it to your “Projects” list (ie. “call travel agency to get prize on flight” is not the only action you have to take to get that trip completely organized).


Since you probably have a huge list now you have to organize it. Remember to not spread out your “lists” you should always know that what you need to remember is in the same place –not some notes on paper, some on your computer and some in your head. You should have several lists, but not too many so you won’t find what you’re looking for or know where to put a certain action. Here are some lists to start with – expand when you feel like it:

  • Next Action – What to do next (E.g. write blog post on xyz, e-mail eric about xyz, read article xyz).
  • Projects – You probably have some stuff you need to do but consists of many actions – let’s call them projects. For example “get new computer” (E.g. check site xyz for review, check prices on stores x and y, order computer from x, install operating system and so on).
  • Waiting – You probably have some actions that you need to wait for something/someone else. Put all those actions here so they don’t distract you.
  • Someday/Maybe – There are usually many things you want done but simply don’t have time or maybe long-time goals? Put them here. You should have everything in your list! You will probably have stuff laying aroung here for years!
  • Calendar – Try to keep your calendar clean with stuff that you really have to do at a specific time – for example meetings.
  • References – There are always stuff you need to save. For example notes, articles and everything else you may need in the future.


If you talk to people who have used GTD for a while, you realize that the probably most important thing is to review the list often! Schedule time to do it at least once a week but when you get the hang of it – some lists you seek every day. This way – you always know that the list is up-to-date and current! During this review, process all your “inboxes” and basically do the Process step above.


Ok, now you have everything in front of you what needs to be done. And from here-on, it’s basically up to you since you have total control on what needs to be done you.

To help you, have this workflow diagram printed out and stick it to your monitor. It will help you – guaranteed:

GTD - Getting Things Done

Please comment if you have anything you want to add or ask. In future posts, I’ll look deeper into how to use tools online for an efficient way to GTD – Getting Things Done.

Want to know more?

Check out the Colorado College Lunch & Learn session which is a basic session on first-time GTD:ers:

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GTD and Google GMail

Are you into GTD (“Getting Things Done”) and use GMail? GTDGmail is a Firefox extension that integrates the highly effective methodology of “Getting Things Done” into the popular email service Gmail. Not uninstalled but darn cool!

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MindMeister – online mind mapping tool beta

I told you about bubbl.us – a free online mind mapping software. Here’s another alternative called MindMeister. Although it’s only in a closed beta yet, here are some screenshots and it looks really good!


Mindmeister Mindmeister

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bubbl.us – online mind mapping software

I love new techniques to get more effective. A few weeks ago, I went to a seminar and they talked about Mind Mapping. It’s a way of organizing your notes instead of classic “linear writing”. It’s said to be more efficient since it activates both left and right part of your brain. So I will give it a try on the university class that I’m taking.

However, instead of doing it on paper, I want to do it on my computer. At first, I found FreeMind, an open source alternative. But I thought there needed to be an online version, and of course there was! Go to bubbl.us – free of course! The interface is quite nice with animated bubbles and you can quickly create new ones with TAB and ENTER. Colors are added automtatically when you add bubbles.

Free Online Mind Mapping software

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GTD – Getting Things Done with online tools – what is it?

I’m a fan of GTD – Getting Things Done – The Art Of Stress-free Productivity. It’s simply a technique to getting things done and more efficiently.

“- GTD rests on the principle that a person needs to move tasks out of their mind and get them recorded somewhere. That way, the mind is freed from the job of remembering everything that needs to be done, and can concentrate fully on actually performing those tasks.”

I can promise you – it really works and I suggest you check it out.

“Now what does this has to do with the My Uninstalled Life blog?” – you might ask. Well, since I’m a fan of it and before starting this blog I was stuck with Outlook 2003 and moving to Outlook 2007 (BTW, Melissa and Simon have good posts on GTD and Outlook 2007 without plug-ins). And since I wanted to move to an uninstalled desktop – keeping everything online – I decided to see how I could approach the GTD technique only with online tools.

So this category will help me with the search of applying GTD with online tools. If you see any articles/services that might help me in this search – let me know.

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