Advice, Frequent questions

Getting Things Done: With this method you will work more efficiently than ever before

When the daily demands get out of hand, the stress level increases. Just the professional deadlines and meetings that you have to keep an eye on put a lot of pressure on us. Then there is the private workload. So that everything doesn’t get over your head, thanks to the Getting Things Done system, all tasks that you actually have on the slip can be coordinated, regardless of whether you are working or private. GTD helps to remember – and to forget. This allows the brain to relax because it knows that it has reliably delegated its task.

With lists in five steps to the result

The time management method of the trainer and management consultant David Allen has been a useful tool since 2001 for those who are not afraid to set up and maintain a personal administration system. GTD is based on five principles: collect – process – organize – look through – do.

Collect : Everything that flows in on you and needs to be done, collect in “baskets”. You decide whether these are physical files or computer files.

Process : Now every single task is evaluated. Arrange them in time, consider whether you can delegate them and decide what the next concrete step is. Here the two-minute rule applies as the first lock: a task that is off the table within two minutes is done immediately. Anything that takes longer and requires several courses of action can be found on one of the following lists.

Organize : All elements can now be split. On the action list all tasks come with their next concrete step. In order to maintain an overview, these measures can be divided into context lists (telephone calls, private, professional, …). Anything that does not appear as a one-off action is entered on a project list . For the individual projects, define the next steps, dates and reminders including the necessary reference materials. The activities that you have delegated appear in the waiting-for-list . The Calendar only includes fixed dates. The maybe-sometime-list serves as a pool of ideas for later.

Look through : Even the nicest order is useless if it is not checked regularly. So check the lists once a day and check appointments, remove things that have been done from the system once a week and add new projects / actions.

Done : Process what is on the action lists and in the calendar. Always keep an eye on the priorities.

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The secret of the 43 folders

The system of 43 folders comes into play so that the individual lists are neither lying around as a loose-leaf collection on the desk nor as individual documents on the desktop. Twelve monthly folders and 31 daily folders are created. For the current month, the respective tasks that are due on the corresponding date are assigned to the daily folders. Every morning the current day folder is emptied, the contents processed and the empty folder sorted into the next month, where it is filled again with new tasks for the respective day.

Tools for the GTD method

The advantage is that you don’t actually need any complicated technical prerequisites to use the method. A piece of paper, pen and a few hanging files are all you need to make the system work. For most people, however, it is more practical to transfer the classification system to the digital way of working. A GTD app does not (yet) exist, but there are well-known tools to implement the most important steps of the method on the computer: Inbox, filing system, checklist or to-do list and calendar can be combined.


GTD cannot be operated half-heartedly. The effect of time management can only be achieved if the system is constantly kept up-to-date and complete. A good deal of self-discipline is necessary to stay on the ball. Once the habitual effect sets in, the system almost runs by itself!

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