Productivity is something every business person strives to do each day. The idea of getting more things done with less effort is just the first step. You must have a plan in place. For many people, GTD or Getting Things Done is that plan. If you’re not familiar with GTD, we’re going to unmask the complexity behind it.
Getting Things Done
GTD (aka Getting Things Done) has been a highly effective productivity booster for almost 20 years, bringing order to cluttered minds and workflows around the world. The brainchild of productivity consultant David Allen, the first iteration of the methodology appeared in his book Getting Things Done – The Art of Stress-Free Productivity back in 2001, with a revised edition being released in 2015.
Its simple and straightforward approach to productivity has won many fans along the way, and as a method of coming to grips with your workload, there are plenty of benefits to the system—no matter the apps or tools you want to use.
The idea behind Getting Things Done is as follows:
- Capture: Write, record, or gather any and everything that has your attention into a collection tool or application.
- Clarify: Is it actionable? If so, decide what the next action is and the project (if more than one action is required). If not, decide if it is trash, reference, or something to put on hold.
- Organize: Place reminders of your categorized content in the appropriate places.
- Reflect: Update and review all pertinent tasks and projects to regain control and focus.
- Do: Use your system in order to get the work done.
Getting Things Done is a personal productivity methodology designed to enhance creativity, strategy building, and mindfulness at work and at home. It works by asking you to break down tasks and projects into actionable items. The basic premise is, that if your mind is free from the drudgery of task management, it will have more space to deal with the tasks themselves.
Within the book, David Allen identifies “open loops”, tasks that have undefined actions or outcomes. These undefined tasks lead to stress, procrastination, and inefficiencies, wasting your time and stalling your productivity. The ultimate goal for the GTD process is to take your tasks and put them into a system external to your mind, allowing you to work on the task at hand as open loops or incomplete tasks work their way through the various steps towards completion. You always know what to work on because everything is organized for you.
Best Apps for Getting Things Done
Obviously, you can use anything to create your GTD system. When Allen created the method, there were no smartphones or App Stores. He built it using paper folders, calendars, and a physical inbox. Today, many people use GTD apps in order to streamline the process of collecting, organizing, and executing the GTD method.
GTD was designed as a “tech-neutral“ system to appeal to as many users as possible. This means you can apply the methodology to your chosen digital platform. However, to make the most of the Getting Things Done system, a GTD user needs the following tools inside a GTD app:
- Trash Can
- Filing System
What are the best apps for using GTD on your desktop and mobile devices? Let’s dive into the list:
Spike – Best for Fast Communication
Spike is a digital workspace that excels at fast communication, storing notes, creating tasks, and managing your calendar. Instead of needing one app for email, another for a calendar, and another GTD app – everything is combined into a single application. Spike even has video and audio calls built-in, so you can ditch your video conferencing app as well.
One of Spike’s features is a task manager with snooze capabilities. When you’re starting a GTD system within Spike, every task can be added and snoozed to a time when you are better equipped to handle it. If you want to manage tasks inside a note, you can have a Spike Note called ‘Inbox’, a Note for your ‘Work Projects’, and a Note for your ‘Personal Projects’. Since Spike is extremely flexible with its GTD implementation, you can customize it to however you want to work.
Download Spike today to combine your GTD app, email, calendar, notes, video chat, and more into a single application.
Nirvana – For Hardcore GTD Users
Nirvana is a to-do app, designed specifically as a GTD app to help you capture, clarify, organize, reflect and engage with your work. Nirvana excels as a GTD app, but it’s only on mobile at this time. There is a web app, but it lacks desktop app functionality. The team is developing desktop apps, and they are available in beta at this time. The team plans to support Mac and PC with its desktop GTD application.
If you’re wanting an app designed for GTD and GTD only, Nirvana is a great option. Since it’s designed to be tailored-made for GTD, it’ll be inflexible if you want to deviate from GTD path. One of the things this app excels at is quick entry, so if you find yourself working mobile when you need to collect new items into your inbox, it should be an app you consider.
Asana – For Team Tasks Management
If your team is looking for a task management application that can scale up with your organization, Asana might be the best option. While Asana isn’t built to be a dedicated GTD platform, it can be customized to get pretty close. The challenge with using Asana for GTD is if your entire team isn’t on GTD – it won’t make as much sense.
Asana’s My Task functionality is the best place for GTD. Once you do a brain dump into your My Task section, you can take the time to process everything into the appropriate buckets. One key aspect of GTD that you need to implement within Asana is the concept of Start Dates and Due Dates. Many tasks cannot be completed until a certain date, so you need to ensure those tasks do not appear until they can be completed. Due Dates will be critical to ensuring that tasks are completed on time by your team.
Forest – Best for Deep Work Needs
While it’s not a GTD-style app, Forest can be a great complement to a GTD application. Forest is an app that helps you stay focused on the important things in life and in your work. The idea behind forest is that virtual trees are growing in the background while you’re focused. It helps you stay focused on one task at a time instead of bouncing around contexts. One of the advantages of pairing Spike with Forest is that you can stay inside a single application instead of switching around from email, notes, calendar, etc.
If you struggle with finishing the tasks you’re on, check out Forest for a way to stay focused for longer periods of time.
Finding the best GTD apps for your workflows might take a few rounds of trial and error. All of the apps can be made to work with GTD, but you’ll want to find the app that allows you to stay productive without needing 5+ apps in order to get your job done.
If you’re looking for a starting point with GTD, check out the official book that is now 20+ years old. This method was developed before apps, so adding the superpowers of robust applications makes it an even more powerful productivity tool.