Over the past 2 years, I have read the 7 best books for developing an effective personal operating system - twice.
I have distilled them down to the 43 key insights that will upgrade your life.
Save yourself time and just implement these key concepts
Book #6: Getting Things Done (summary)
“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” (author, David Allen)
This book is a manual for stress-free productivity.
GTD helps you set up a trusted system of lists, reminders, and weekly reviews, in order to free your mind from having to remember tasks and to-dos and instead let it work at full focus on the task at hand.
Key Concept (28): The Right Framework Can Help You Maintain Focus
We struggle to focus our attention on the right tasks, and often can't keep track of the wide range of things we want or need to do.
This lack of strategy means we don’t prioritize efficiently, and it can make us feel overwhelmed.
Allen’s methodology will help you navigate projects, daily to-dos, and anything else you need to get done, without getting stressed.
Key Concept (29): Create An Inbox (”In-List”) of Everything You Need To Get Done
The first step of GTD is to Capture every single one of your open loops into an in-list.
Your in-list can be a document, folder, or app (you can have one for physical and digital items).
Now whenever a new open loop crops up, you can store it here instead of worrying about how to get it done in the moment.
Then once it’s in your in-list, you can return to it when you have time, consider what needs to get done, and organize accordingly.
Key Concept (30): Decide If An Open Loop Is Actionable Or Not
Typical actionable items are “respond to email” or “prep for upcoming meeting.”
Nonactionable items are those that don’t require a specific action at this time.
Key Concept (31): Clarify: Actionable Items Require A Physical And Visible Next Action
To feel less stressed out about tasks we need to get done, we need to change how we write them down.
Key Concept (32): If An Actionable Items Takes Less Than 2 Minutes To Do, Just Do It Now
That’s because planning when to complete a two-minute task will take longer than just doing it.
You'll get it off your plate, and keep your number of open loops down.
Key Concept (33): Organize: Use a Next Actions List To Track Your Daily Reminders
Some of the next actions you’ve determined will need to happen as soon as possible.
Add these to a Next Actions list.
Key Concept (34): Organize: Use A “Waiting For” List To Track Tasks Delegated To Others
After you’ve delegated them, keep track of them weekly by adding them to a ‘Waiting For’ list.
This allows you to monitor open loops w/o being distracted from what you actually need to do.
Key Concept (35): Organize: Only Use Your Calendar For Date-Specific Tasks
If you see an actionable item that needs to happen on a specific date, you can add this to your Calendar.
But you shouldn’t put a reminder on a specific day unless it really needs to be done that day.
That way when you see a reminder on your Calendar, you really know it needs to get done then.
And you won’t keep pushing it off until suddenly you’ve missed a deadline.
Key Concept (36): Move Projects Forward By Focusing Only On The Immediate Next Action
What’s the immediate next action required to move this project forward?
You should add this next action to your Next Actions list.
Once you complete it, you can determine another immediate next action.
Then, every time you check your Next Actions list you can move your project forward, little by little.
Key Concept (37): Make Your In-List As Clutter-Free As Possible
Your goal is to always have an in-list as operational as possible, which means no clutter.
Otherwise, you’ll be less likely to use it.
Key Concept (38): Keep a Someday/Maybe List For Potential Future Projects
To keep track of potential projects or ideas, add them to a Someday/Maybe list.
This list can be a place where you draw inspiration from when you’re ready for something new.
In order to get the most out of your Someday/Maybe list, review it weekly so you can move forward with a project when you have time.
As you continue to use GTD, you can add any inspirational ideas or projects to this list and refer to it in the future.
Key Concept (39): Use A Tickler File To Save Items For A Specific Time Period
A Tickler File is a way to “tickle” your memory in the future. This is where you can put things you need to access during a specific time.
Key Concept (40): Collect Open Loops And Review Your Lists Once A Week
Every day, you should reference your Next Actions list and Calendar.
But to make sure all your lists are helping you accomplish what you need them to, you also need to conduct a Weekly Review.
To do this, pick a specific day once a week where you’ll follow the GTD methodology from top to bottom.
This means gathering all your open loops into an in-list and going through one by one.
After, you’ll review all your ongoing lists to make sure they’re as complete and up-to-date as possible.
Doing a Weekly Review will ensure that when you need to work off your lists, there won’t be loose ends you’re not sure what to do with.
A visual of the GTD system:
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