Getting Things Done for startups

Eze hosted an event at Campus London on Friday with one of my heros — David Allen, author of Getting Things Done. I read the book in 2002 I think and have been experimenting with different ways of making the system work ever since. It’s no surprise that it’s sold 2 million copies — it’s a self-help book that works and has helped create a whole industry around supporting ‘GTDers’.

If you’re working on a startup and don’t know about GTD, you’re probably best stopping what you’re doing and taking some time out to learn about it. Get your co-founders to do the same because if you all have the same framework for personal productivity you’ll understand each other much better.

There a few bits to the system:

  • Get everything out of your head — the first step and a habit that you need to get into is writing everything down that you want to do. When you have an idea or when you remember you need to do something, write it down and find a system you trust for doing so.
  • Sift all of that down to actionable tasks — an actionable task is something that you can do in one go. It shouldn’t need you to work out what you meant and it shouldn’t have multiple dependencies. If it does need something else doing before you can do it, work on that task first. A project is just a series of actionable tasks.
  • Sort into contexts — when you know what you have to do, you need to work out when to do it. A context is just a way of allocating tasks to a suitable time, so you put all your calls into a context called ‘phone calls’ or emails into ‘email’ or errands into ‘out and about’.
  • Review regularly — this was the bit that came through very strongly in David’s talk on Friday. He even said that the most important part of the system for him now was his weekly review when he takes a step back and works out whether he’s working on things that matter to him.

Huge thanks to the Campus team for organising the event. Really enjoyed it.

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