It is easy to get completely obsessed with your GTD implementation, tweaking and tuning constantly to get it just right. It is even more easy to find yourself drooling over the latest gadgets and web 2.0 GTD applications out there. Perhaps you find yourself going through the motions that are supposed to make you get things done, but you’re not really sure anymore why you’re doing them?
It’s time to refocus on why you are using GTD in the first place!
What was in it for you again? Why did it seem like such a good idea to implement GTD at the time?
To answer these questions, I have created a list of the top 10 benefits of GTD. Just in case you forgot all about them, or you never knew them in the first place, or you’re dying to find out once and for all!
Top 10 Benefits of GTD
1. GTD promises a feeling of relaxed control
This must be the number one benefit of applying GTD to your personal and professional life. Doing frequent mind dumps, collecting all of your “stuff” and then processing and organizing it into useful information in your trusted system is an excellent way to feel in control of your life, yet relaxed at the same time. It certainly takes some time to reach this state where you experience a “mind like water”, but it’s what we’re all longing for. I know I am.
2. GTD makes you check the state of your life frequently
I’m talking about the essential weekly review here. I complement these weekly reviews with short daily reviews actually. It’s without a doubt a very useful and valuable habit to review the state of your life frequently. Just to see how all the projects are coming along, what is important to you and what is not, if you’re still on the right road to your goals, and so on. Take action to correct the direction you’re going in when you feel relaxed and have time, not when it’s too late or when you’re feeling stressed.
3. GTD gives you freedom of choice
Some complain that GTD doesn’t tell you what to do and when to do it. Personally, I don’t want any system to tell me what, when or how I should be doing something. Having a trusted system gives you the ultimate freedom of choice. Use your intuition, determine your personal priority, then make a choice based on the actions and commitments that are being tracked in your GTD system. You decide what to do and what NOT to do.
4. GTD helps you in making and keeping commitments
I just love never forgetting anything anymore. I also never forget anymore what somebody else promised to do for me. Making commitments with yourself and other people has become so much easier, because applying GTD will make sure you have all the tools and mindset to actually remember and keep these commitments. Remember, nothing hurts a relationship with somebody (including yourself!) more than breaking commitments. GTD provides a system for recording and tracking all of your commitments.
5. GTD stimulates thinking in advance
Thinking in advance about all the little or big projects in your life (and recording the results of this process!) is a great way to keep you from rethinking “stuff” over and over again. Instead, simply focus on doing the things you want or need to do, knowing that all the thinking and planning has already been dealt with in advance. Don’t let your work define you… make sure you define your work! Achieve focus and direction in your life by thinking about successful outcomes of projects and work on your planning (especially at the higher levels, above “the runway”).
6. GTD supports you in tracking your dreams
The someday/maybe list was somewhat of an epiphany to me. Before using such a list, I didn’t really keep track of all of my ideas and plans for the future. Now I’m not only keeping track of these “dreams” in a structured way, I also review this list at least once a week. In this process I renegotiate with myself what I want to do with my future and what item from my someday/maybe list is to be converted into a real project to achieve that future. Before using GTD this would only happen when I was faced with an important decision. Not the best of times to do this.
7. GTD makes you more productive and more effective
Besides wanting to feel more organized, being more productive and being more effective is usually what people are mainly aiming for. GTD certainly delivers in these areas, as long as you implement and maintain your GTD system in an excellent fashion. In fact, this benefit of GTD is a direct result of all the other benefits combined. Getting “stuff” off your mind, tracking actions and projects in a trusted system, keeping commitments with yourself and others, thinking in advance; they all lead to a more productive and more effective person.
8. GTD is an excellent building block
One of the things that made me embrace GTD is the fact that it doesn’t preclude any other methodology or productivity technique. In fact, I think GTD is highly compatible with other productivity techniques and you can create a very powerful, personal productivity system by combining and enhancing GTD with these other techniques. I wrote some recent posts on this very topic if you’re interested (look for posts starting with “Maximize Productivity”).
9. GTD makes you more organized and leads to less clutter
This is a more down-to-earth but nonetheless very big benefit of GTD. Having your reference system, tickler, lists and calendar all working together seemlessly, is a great way to get that organized feeling. Applying the basic tools and principles of GTD will make sure that your desk is clean. That you can store and retrieve information within seconds. And that everything has its own place. This alone will make you more productive.
10. GTD supports you in being more creative
Last but not least, GTD has helped me rethink my view of “digital life”. I’m working more on paper, planning, mindmapping, brainstorming and so on. I simply love using a pen and paper to get the creative juices flowing. Moreover, applying GTD and eventually achieving that feeling of relaxed control will free up your mind for more important and more creative thinking processes.
Bonus top 5
While we are pondering the great benefits of GTD itself, let’s take a moment longer to figure out why we want to be more productive in the first place. Perhaps it’s getting a little philosophical here, but here’s my top 5 reasons for wanting to be more productive (by using GTD among other things):
1. Being happy and achieving a positive attitude
2. Being more balanced in life (work/personal)
3. Being more successful
4. Having more freedom
5. Setting and achieving my goals
What is the biggest benefit you (hope to) get from GTD?