Now a little hands-on time with David Allen.

An Introduction & Overview of GTD

These next videos will walk you through some of the basics of GTD as explained by David Allen. We start off with some of the philosophy behind GTD and then move into the mechanics and nitty-gritty. Before closing we pull back out again and look at a concept in GTD called the 6 Horizons of Focus. Here you can see how GTD will help clarify your purpose on the planet all the way down to the very next tangible thing you need or want to do, like send an email or make a phone call.

Finally these videos close with a few practical hands-on demonstrations of GTD at David Allen's desk, and we look in at a one-one-one coaching session with a Dutch television personality. Enjoy!

The Five Steps to Getting Things Done

At its core, GTD is built on five steps that can enable one to have a clear head and a clear focus. David Allen introduces these in this next video which also serves as introduction to a course offered by

Getting Things Done (GTD )

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Wow! That's crazy! Not too many people handle their front mailbox this way — but this is exactly the situation with most people's computer Inbox. It's not uncommon for people to have few hundred or even a few thousand emails in their Inbox. To find something specific, all these messages have to be sifted through over and over and over again. This causes a lot of stress and overwhelm. Most of it gets blamed on our technological age. It's just the way things are, like weather.

But it doesn't have to be. We empty the physical mailbox by our front door each day and "process" the contents. This is a bill to pay, this is a letter to read, and this is junk mail for the waste basket. Email can be handled exactly the same. It's possible to empty our computer Inbox every 24 to 72 hours — totally empty every 24 to 72 hours as a routine on-going practice. And it feels great!

Email is just one source of overwhelm these days. Another is holding too much information in our heads. Image if we held all our appointments in our head. The project meeting next Thursday at 1:00 in Conference Room B; orchestra concert December 16th at 7:00; car repair this Saturday morning at 10:00; annual physical January 22nd at 2:45. And that's just four items!

We all write these things in a calendar. It's common sense. So why do we carry everything else in our heads? Enter David Allen, creator of "Getting Things Done" or "GTD" for short.

I've heard it said that David Allen looks a bit corporate-like. I guess he does and that might put a few of you off, but don't let it. I am extremely grateful I gave David a listen. He's provided me with an organizational approach and methodology that's invaluable for handling all the "stuff of life" that flies at us everyday. It applies equally to personal and professional. But that's just part of it. Peel back the onion a bit and you'll see there's much more to GTD than just "getting things done" — although you will get things done. For me, GTD is also about peace of mind. David Allen calls it "mind like water." It's about presence in the moment where all the zillion of details in our busy lives don't eat us up.

The best way I can illustrate this is to use vacation as an example. I'm sure you've experienced this. As vacation approaches, most of us take stock of everything on our plate. We finish the few things that absolutely must get done, we maybe delegate a few things to others, and then we put the rest on a list to handle later when we return. At this point we have everything accounted for. It's not all done, but we know the full range of these outstanding obligations and commitments, and we've made decisions about it. Our heads are clear so we can go relax and enjoy vacation.

GTD makes this pre-vacation process a normal daily or weekly practice so we can enjoy that clear head all the time. What a joy!

Before going further I should say here that...  I, Bob Laycock, am not licensed, certified, approved, endorsed by or otherwise affiliated with David Allen or the David Allen Company which is the creator of the Getting Things Done® system for personal productivity. GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. For more information on the David Allen Company's products, please click the box below to visit their website.

Last Monday... I opened my front door to check the mail. "Mmm. Let's see... Oh good, a card from my friend. Let me take this. Here's the phone bill. I'll wait on that. And the car insurance too. I'll deal with it later." With that, I put the phone and insurance bills back in the mailbox, went back inside and closed the door.

On Tuesday... I checked again. "Oh yeah, these bills again and the phone is due by Thursday! Better remember. Wow, great! Here's the Arhaus catalog. I've been waiting for this!" I put the phone and insurance bills back in the mailbox along with some junk fliers, but took the catalog and went inside.

On Wednesday... I opened the door and checked my mailbox again. Two magazines arrived and more junk mail. I saw the phone bill again, and the insurance bill too. "I thought I'd paid this," I said to myself. "Guess not." Suddenly the phone rang so I stuffed everything back into the mailbox and rushed inside.

On Thursday...  I was in a really big hurry and only glanced at my mailbox for a moment but I'm glad I did! My tax refund arrived!! Yay!! I  grabbed the check, stuffed the rest back into the mailbox again, and ran.

On Friday... I checked the mailbox again. Stuff was jammed in so tight it was hard to pull it out. Then I saw it. "Oh good grief! The phone bill! How in the world did I forget I had to pay this?! I left it in here so I'd remember. Dang it!!" I grabbed the phone bill but the insurance isn't due for a few weeks so that went back into the mailbox again. I also grabbed one of the magazines from Wednesday and stuffed everything else back into the mailbox again. What a squeeze! Whatever. I'll deal with it all later.

David Allen's

Getting Things Done


So what is this "GTD"?

GTD is an amazingly logical and simple methodology for managing work and stuff that needs doing — professional and personal — yet is incredibly powerful. Most of you reading this are already doing some the practices that make up GTD. So why do we need GTD?

Well, you may be doing some of the practices some of the time, like writing out a list, but GTD focuses on doing these things consistently and consciously. A little exercise every few weeks won't gain you much. Consistency is required to really benefit. Same with work.

If this rings your bell, as it did mine, you'll want to check out the book at Amazon. For now follow with me below and see what you think.




GTD has a spiritual, contemplative or meditative side that one wouldn't usually expect in a program focused on doing work — inboxes, to do lists, files, email, phone calls and such. This comes out in David Allen's description of "Mind as Water" above and in a few of the other videos as well. If you'd like to explore more of this side to GTD and life in general, check out my 'Life 2.0' section.


Oh gosh! The main video series I used for this page is no longer on YouTube, and hence no longer available here. They explained the GTD process so nicely. Very disappointing!

I will rebuild this page. Until then, a few videos remain below.