5 Strategies from the GTD Method to Manage Your Workload

Imagine this. Every day you plan 3 major tasks to complete, 3 things you can get done in 30 minutes, and a handful of 5-10-minute tasks. You manage to pick up those 5-10-minute tasks between the major ones, but now your 30-minute tasks have piled up because they never make it to the top of your list. What do you do then?

The Underlying Problem

Leaving work undone or not finishing on time is only a problem if the work you’ve decided to do is less important than the work you’ve put off. If this is the case, then we need to discuss how you were lured into working on less important matters.

But if you’ve tackled the more important work, then there’s no need to feel stressed at all. Even hyper-productive people who are well-balanced always have tasks they are NOT undertaking at a given moment. The key point here is to feel good about those left-aside tasks. In this article, we’ll provide you with 5 strategies to achieve this feeling, all tried and tested by the Getting Things Done® (GTD) method.

The GTD Method

“Hey, wasn’t there a book called Getting Things Done?” Yes, you are right! What started as a bestseller by David Allen has morphed into a methodology and a mindset. GTD is a holistic approach to work efficiency that is particularly useful in the fast-changing environment in which modern professionals find themselves.

With the GTD method, you create reliable systems for capturing, clarifying, and organizing all the tasks that demand your attention. By gathering these tasks in a trustworthy system, you tidy up your mental space, enabling you to focus better on the work at hand without distractions from unfinished business. There are several fixed steps to assist you in this, as we also teach in our Getting Things Done® Level 1 training.

This way of working leads to a greater sense of control and competence, thereby lowering stress levels and enhancing productivity and creativity. By embracing this systematic approach to task management, professionals can optimize workflow and pave a defined path to success.

1. Maintain an Inventory

Most people mentally keep a record of every commitment they have made. Pull ALL those appointments and tasks out of your head and onto paper or a device so you can manage them effectively. A thorough inventory improves your ability to evaluate what is important and what is not because you can see how each task relates to your goals and priorities. Remember, you can only be at peace with what you don’t do when you have a clear inventory of all that you’re not doing.

2. Check the Right Things First

When you start your day, look over your calendar and task lists BEFORE diving into emails or messages. Don’t get distracted by the latest and loudest thing sent your way. Start by clarifying what is most impactful. Most likely, your 30-minute tasks are more important than those five-minute tasks.

3. Limit the Latest and Loudest

The GTD method shows us that we often tend to immediately tackle the tasks we just received or that a colleague has loudly requested. Just because something seems urgent does not mean it should take precedence over your 30-minute tasks. Learn to turn off your notifications and shut your door when it’s time to handle those longer tasks. These might seem trivial tips, but their impact can be tremendous.

4. Plan for Surprises

Urgent and unexpected requests are inevitable. So why not plan for them? Set aside a little bit of time every day or every other day to respond to the latest and loudest work and refrain from responding outside of this allocated time.

5. Have the Crucial Conversation

For every task or agreement you’ve consented to, you have three choices: to do it, not to do it, or revise what you have committed to. If you are adequately doing the appropriate work at the right times and still failing to deliver tasks on schedule, you’ll need to have a serious conversation with those depending on you. After all, no one gets absolutely everything done on time. Every team member has more work laid out than they can handle, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel good about it knowing that you haven’t forgotten that work and there will surely come another day to deliver it.


Training solution

Looking to Boost Your Productivity?

Armed with these 5 strategies, you’ll likely notice the difference Getting Things Done® can make starting today. Want to learn more of such handy tips and tactics? Our GTD training is available both in-class and in-company. Or are you seeking communication skills to address accountability? Read more about our communication training course “Crucial Conversations® for Accountability.”

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