Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done (GTD) is a time-management method, described in a book of the same title by productivity consultant David Allen. The GTD method rests on the idea of moving planned tasks and projects out of the mind by recording them externally and then breaking them into actionable work items. This allows one to focus attention on taking action on tasks, instead of on recalling them.

Allen uses the analogy of RAM and hard drives. People have a max. storage space (RAM) that allows them to store information in their minds. The GTD method encourages people to move things out of their RAM and into a trusted hard drive. If you don't trust the storage device then you won't take the tasks out of your mind. Having a trusted storage device allows you to throw tasks out of your mind because the system will return them to you when they become relevant again.

Within our team, we put this method to practice primarily through Asana. We want to improve what we do on a daily basis because we value excellence, which can be achieved by executing and GTD. Ideas cannot add value if they remain ideas and are not put into action. By breaking down our ideas into actionable tasks using Asana we are able and responsible to organize ourselves so we can get things done. Here are some practical Asana guidelines that we use to implement the GTD method within our company:

  • Every task has a single assignee who is responsible for completing that task, making it impossible for things to fall through the cracks because “it wasn’t clear who owns this” (this is what areas of responsibility are).
  • When we complete a task or add a comment to a task with multiple followers, everyone is informed and stays up to date.
  • Start with action verbs in task titles. You cannot “do” a project, but you can “Improve X” or “Research Y”.
  • Use the description field to describe the end in mind (i.e. what does the finished state look like?).
  • Use the comments section to make SMART comments on the process of completing the task with next actions.