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7 Ways to the Best Version Of Yourself with GTD®


On the face of it, GTD (Getting Things Done) might seem like another productivity hack.

Or perhaps just another way to organize oneself to “Get Things Done“.

But the reality is that there is more to GTD than meets the eye.

The more you apply GTD behaviours in your life, the more you realize that GTD is not about checking things off your list.

So what is it about? How can it help you live a better life? How can it make you the best version of yourself? 

Here are 7 things GTD is about and what you might be missing out on if you’re not a practitioner:

1. Prepares you to Deal with Surprises

In fact the only thing constant, is how fast things are changing.

GTD helps you be in a state of readiness so you can adapt to change. When you’re presented with a surprise, you are poised to respond optimally to its intrusion. Today that’s a key skill if you want to stay ahead of the curve. Here is further elaboration on the “how” and the “why”:

2. Gets your Mind to Relax

Who’s a good negotiator? The one’s who’s sweating under his collar, all stressed out worrying he’ll lose the deal? Or the one who’s calm, composed, knows what he wants without getting attached to the outcome. You’re Right… it’s is the latter.

When your mind is relaxed it’s the best place to operate from. You’re a better entrepreneur, manager, engineer, writer and parent.

GTD is based on the premise “Your Mind is for having ideas, not holding them“. As you create an external trusted system to track all your commitments, your mind relaxes and is able to appropriately engage with the task at hand.

3. Helps you Lead a Meaningful Life

People complain of lack of meaning in life. The pace is so fast and frenzied that all we do is run from pillar to post. But GTD helps you flip this perspective.

With its Horizons of Focus model, it shows you how the little to-dos you execute contribute to your ultimate life purpose and the bigger picture. It is the best way to stay motivated and find meaning in the mundane.

4. Helps you say “No” without Guilt

You can do anything, but you can’t do everything” ~ David Allen.

Most of us feel overwhelmed because we’ve taken on so many commitments, and are not able to keep up with them. In a world with infinite options, the key to success is to focus on the essentials. Focus on the 20% that will give you 80% of the results, and say No to the rest.

That’s easier said than done. However after practising GTD, the word “No” is used more often. How?

GTD gets you to externalise a complete list of all your commitments (Projects). Most people would have anywhere between at least 30 to a 100 Projects.

The moment you have this list in front of you, and a new commitment shows up, you have a point of reference to confidently decide whether that new commitment is worth taking up or not.

You can get more context through this blog post:

5. Helps you Manage your Attention

GTD is not about managing time. Time is the same for everyone. We all have 24 hours. GTD helps you manage your attention. Attention is a scarce commodity. In order to create something of value, you need to concentrate your attention & focus.

But if you don’t guard your attention, then you’ll be at the mercy of the environment that will suck it all away. You just need to look at how addicting social media is, and the amount of time people are spending on it.

GTD helps you make the best use of your attention by making you aware of all the projects on your plate as well as the Next Actions to take them forward and a deep understanding of how the to-dos actually relate to the bigger picture.

You are much less prone to distractions when you know what’s at stake and can intuitively decide where to put your focus.

Read up more here:

6. Allows You to Manage  your Agreements Well

People often think that stress comes from having too much to do. But if you think about it, that’s not really true. Have a lot to do is a sign that you’re leading a rich life. So then what’s the source of stress?

Stress comes from mismanaging your agreements. If you say you’re going to submit that report by end of the week, and you miss the deadline, you lose confidence in yourself.

By externalizing your commitments, it becomes easier for you to make commitments you can keep and renegotiate the ones that are impossible to honor on existing terms.  

This is a great read on how agreements are closely linked to your self esteem and how you can boost it:

7. Makes You Do the Right Thing at the Right Time

GTD teaches you the value of context. And tells you logically why you shouldn’t be bothering about painting the garage when you are delivering a seminar.

Under this paradigm you have different lists for different settings and all you need to do is refer the Next Actions that you can execute in your present situation (or location) given the resources available to ensure that none of your promises (to yourself or to others) are ever broken.

You not only feel good about what you’re doing, you’re okay about the things that you’re not doing.

Here’s further clarification on the trend of doing things at the last minute and how you can break free of the habit.

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