GTD (Getting Things Done by David Allen)

With GTD or Getting Things Done David Allen developed a method aiming at a higher efficiency and effectiveness of self-organization.


  • Anything one can think of comes into an inbox.
  • Classification is later done at a given time.

Basic rules:

GTD is based on two principles:

  1. Everything is collected in an external memory (=NOT the own brain) in a reliable and understandable manner.
  2. Organization and categorization of the to-dos follows a specific principle.

In this connection GTD uses a multiphase system to deal with the to-dos. In general it is proceeded as follows:

  1. record: All to-dos are recorded in a system (input).
  2. process: Afterwards the input is processed and improved (cyclical, typically once a day).
  3. organize: All to-dos are evaluated according to the following criteria:
    1. next steps
    2. projects
    3. waiting for,...
    4. maybe/sometime
    5. timetabled things
    6. to remember and at the moment nothing to do
  4. control: To-do lists and calendar are daily controlled, processed and re-evaluated. Weekly, typically at the end of the work week, conclusions are made and completed tasks (to-dos) are filed.

There is a large number of tools and extensions for all platforms supporting this method.

The method itself is not bound to a software tool. The complete process can also be carried out with notes and/or a whiteboard.


To-dos make it not possible to learn from the completed tasks. There is only an active or a completed state. As a result a finer segregation would not reasonably work, at least not without additional attributes or tags. The method is strongly focused on the single person and therefore unqualified for collaborative working with a delegation of tasks, collaborative learning and the support of a pull-oriented working method.

Further literature