014: Surprise! You Might Already Be Using The GTD Method For Productivity

Reading time: 1 minutes.


With all of the different productivity methods out there, it’s no wonder you’re confused and frustrated. I want to point out again that the actual tool you use doesn’t matter. Let me simplify the productivity process for you – capture the information, organize it and take action. We spend a lot of time reading, researching, and learning what methods and workflows will work for us, but the only one that will work is the one you will actually use.

Discussed In This Episode:

  • The process for organizing your information that is so simple that you might already be using it
  • The 5 steps of the GTD Method
  • To make it even simpler, use just 2 steps
  • Why I suggest using a digital database instead of a paper system
  • Your action step I want you to take this week

Mentioned in this episode:

Other Helpful links:

Welcome to Coffee Powered Systems, equipping women with actionable steps to overcome, overwhelm and streamline business and life. So grab your favorite drink and come hang out with me. I'm your host, Miranda Merten. Hey there. Welcome back to another episode of Coffee Powered Systems. Today, I want to talk to you about your process for how you're organizing your information, specifically the GTD method.

And I'm sure you've heard about it. It has been made famous by David Allen and his GTD system. I will link to his book for you in the show notes. It's a pretty quick read. Not the most thrilling thing you've ever read, but the methods he talks about are super helpful and very useful in learning how to handle your personal productivity. This episode is all about the fact that there are different kinds of productivity systems and methods out there. And specifically, we're going to talk about the GTD method, because I have seen so many different things out there.

You know, there's the Eisenhower Matrix system, the GTD method. There's all kinds of things out there, you name it. And we see new ones pop up all the time. But some of them seem super confusing. Right. There's so many out there, and it's no wonder that we're all confused and frustrated.

We jump from method to method, wondering which one's going to work for us. And I want to point out again that the tool that you use doesn't matter. I keep saying that because I keep seeing that people get hung up on what they use, but they still don't know how to use it. And they still don't know how to manage their own productivity and create a system that works for them. But it's really not that hard. Let me simplify it for you before we go into the actual method and what the GTD method is.

Let me simplify it by saying you're basically going to capture the information, organize it and take action. That's it. That's all we do, right? With everything that we do in systems, in setting up our systems. All we have to do is capture knowledge and organize it and then take action. We spend a lot of time reading, researching, learning what methods will work for us. But in actuality, the only one that's gonna work is the one that you're going to actually use.


And there's got to be zero resistance in order for you to use the system that you want to use. If it's too hard, you're not going to use it. If there's too many bells and whistles for you, You're not going to use it. if you don't understand it. And if you don't understand how to actually use the system or the tool that you're studying, you're not going to use it. You're gonna be gung ho and happy for a week or two.

But if there's a lot of friction there, you're just going to get frustrated and then move on.

And then you'll probably be back to square one wondering what went wrong. So the GTD method, let's talk about that one.

It's based on a framework of five things you want to capture, which means you collect what has your attention. And that can be with a notebook or a to do app like to do is just a simple to do list app, your notes app on your phone, or maybe you just speak into your phone and save a recording or talk to Siri. Right. And say, Siri, remind me to do whatever that is you capture and collect.

In my opinion, it's probably the most important part because you have to get all of these things out of your head and put it somewhere.

You're not going to be able to use it and move forward if you don't have a good method and a good system in order to capture all of these things. The next step is going to be to clarify. You want to decide what these things mean and properly understand why you need to do them. The next step is going to be to organize, put it where it belongs.

It's useless if you have it scattered in a bunch of different notebooks or a bunch of different apps.

That's why that first part called capture is super important, in my opinion. You got to get that system under control and I'll talk about this, how I do it and how maybe some other ways that you can do it on a different episode.

But you really have to get clear on that capture phase in order to be super productive. And I think that's where everybody gets tripped up.

You have all these fancy pants, notebooks and planners and to do list apps and your information is scattered everywhere.

Now, if you're not using a system electronically and you're just trying to use notebooks, that's going to be, I think, probably a little harder than having an electronic system.

Because if you have one notebook over here, a notebook at your desk, a notebook at the office, one in your purse, and every time you think of an idea, you jotted down what happens.

You forget which notebook you put it in. You forget what ideas you actually put down. Two years later, you you find a notebook and you're like, oh my God, I love this notebook. Let me flip through it and see what I have in here.

And then you read through all these fantastic ideas that you're like, Oh, yeah, I forgot. I thought about that one. That was amazing. Why didn't I take action and do anything on that? It's because it was stuck in this notebook that you forgot about and put it into a drawer literally like two weeks later.

So you've got to get clear on that capture phase in order to move forward and organize it if you're using paper notebooks.

You probably would need to use have a really clear system, maybe something using like a table of contents in the beginning and then really sticking to a method of how you're going to lay out those pages and capture your notes.

So for the capture phase, I would suggest using something digital.

It's a lot easier to organize at the end of the day. And a lot easier to search and find what you're looking for. The next phase is to reflect. You want to reflect on what you've collected. Review it often and be able to figure out what you're going to do with it. Otherwise, you put it in there and that's it. You leave it there. The last stage is going to be engage the engage stage means you take action.

That's the fun part, right? You take action on all of these ideas that you've got. If you don't take action, it becomes a graveyard of information. Just like I had mentioned before. You have all these notebooks or all these apps with all your ideas separated everywhere. And, you know, there's a lot of good information in there, but it's just sitting doing nothing.

So it's living in a dusty graveyard and you have not taken action on any of it, which gets you nowhere. So once you have your five steps, which the title of this episode is surprise, you might already be using the GTD method. But a lot of people don't realize it. You could already be using these five steps because it's as simple as that, right? Capture the information. Figure out what you want to do with it. Organize it and use it.

Boom. That's it. This isn't rocket science. This isn't anything super complicated. I think where people get mixed up here is trying to figure out how they're going to organize it and what tools they're going to use. And they try to get fancy using tags and systems and all. That's great because I do have a system that I use, but I also have, you know, mastered and tweaked and figured out exactly how I like to use it.

So but once you get started and you're just starting out, keep it simple. All you're doing is capturing your information and figuring out how you're going to use it.

There are basically two types of information that you have, actionable versus non actionable and your actionable plans. You're going to take a look at it. You figure out if it is actionable.

You say, can I go ahead and do it? Is it something I can do right now? Like when you're checking your email? Is this an email I can reply to immediately if it's something that you can do?

Go ahead and do it. There's no reason to sit on it and come back later when you go through your email inbox. You want to try to touch each email once, maybe twice. If it's something that you have to go back to, if you open up the email and it's an answer that you can give pretty quickly and respond to, go ahead and do it. Why are you waiting and letting your email pile up next? You take a look at it.

If it's something that you cannot do in two minutes or right now, add it to your calendar as a do later action item. But that's the key part.

You want to calendar it. Put it on your calendar. Give it a time and a due date. That way you will definitely be more likely to come back to it. And you can plan ahead knowing that, yes, I'm going to do this action item at this time. If you can't do it right now, you have to figure out if you can either defer it or delegate it, if you're going to defer it. That's different than putting it on a calendar and making it an action item.

You're deferring it down the road. You're saying this is something I have to do, but it's not immediate and I don't have a particular due date that I can add to it. So you defer it, you put it off a little bit. And the last one you're gonna do is delegated.

Is that something that you can give to someone else, whether that's a business partner or a colleague or an assistant, if it's something that someone else can do. And it's not really a good use of your time. Like maybe design. Like a lot of people spend a whole lot of time on designing things. I know.

I do. If. Someone else can do that better, work faster. That's also key. Then go ahead and delegate it and get it off your books. Non actionable items. You're going to either keep it as a reference, which can be super important if you organize it correctly. This goes back to that capture phase where if you know how your organizing system is laid out, it's a lot easier to find it later on. My digital system has a digital inbox.

So if I have an idea pop up, I plop it in the inbox and I review those later.

Next, you can forget it. If you have captured some information, you've determined that it's not actionable. You've determined that it's not actually that important. Then trash it. If it's not important enough for you to do it or put it on your calendar or have someone else do it for you. Maybe it's just not that important. So don't be afraid to say, you know what?

I actually don't need to do this. And it's not important. And it's just going to waste a lot of time. And it's not a good reference item. I don't need it. I read it. I'm good.

It's OK to put it in the trash. The mental trash bin, if you will. Lastly, you can review it and see if it's going to be a good project for down the road. If you have an idea and you realize that it's going to have a lot more steps than just do it or don't do it. Maybe it's good to turn it into a project for later on.

The key here, though, is to adopt a critical automatic habit for doing each one of these steps. Don't overthink it. Once you've figured out how you're going to handle and tackle each of those steps, your whole systemising process will become a lot easier. But my takeaway item for you today, I want you to figure out the capture part. What are you going to do to capture your information? Are you using a paper capture system where you have a specific notebook or multiple notebooks?

Maybe you have a notebook for product ideas and then you have a notebook for your clients. And then you have a notebook for something else. You know, home improvement.

Then if you're going to do that, make sure you have.

Maybe do a table of contents of some sort or page numbers so that you know where to put your actual ideas.

So you're not flipping through the book. You know, one book has this product. Another book has an e-book idea. This book over here has gardening projects. You don't want them all Scatterbrain. You'll never figure out where your product an idea is. And trust me, I've been there. I've thought of something. And then I go do something else. And I come back and I'm like, oh, I had a good idea. And now I've lost it.

Or I have. And tell me, I know you've done this. I've written it down in a you know, one of my favorite notebooks on some random page one day because I grabbed the nearest pen and flip open to the nearest clean page.

And I write it down. And then I'm like, yes, that's going to come in handy later. I close it up. And later on, I'm looking for this fantastic idea. And I'm like, I know I wrote that down. Which notebook is it?

And because I've got a couple of fun notebooks that I love using and it drives you nuts because you remember using your favorite pen and writing it down in a notebook. And then even if you find that notebook, you're flipping through the pages and you can't even remember where you put it.

So my task for you is to if you're going to use a paper system, make sure you know how to organize it.

Secondly, I would recommend using a digital system and organizing that way because you can set up different hierarchies or use different lists, styles like just a list or tableware, kanban siles.

And you can really lay it out and see how everything is related together. So once you've decided how you're going to organize your information, I want you to over the next week, maybe as new ideas come into your head.

Use your new system to kind of track them down. And as you drop them down, run through this GTD system or even just go back to the basic. Is it actionable? Is it not actionable? You can start with that two step process. Maybe just have two lists, actionable items, not actionable items. And then at the end of the week, go back through and try to organize them. So that is what I want you to do.

That's your takeaway for today. I will put any links down in the show notes. You can find the show notes for this episode at Miranda Merten dot com slash 14. And that's gonna be it for today. Remember, if you would like to leave me a question, go ahead and hit that. Leave a message button down. In the show, notes record a voice message, you don't even need to leave your name. You can recorded anonymously or you can send me a D.M. on Instagram or anywhere I am on social media.

At Miranda Merten, I look forward to hearing from you and I will see you here again next week.

Thanks for listening to Coffee Powered Systems. You can find links to everything mentioned in the episode. Down in the show, notes or on the Web site at Miranda Merten dot com. If you enjoyed this episode, rate and review it in iTunes or where you enjoy listening so others can find it too. And join me here next time.

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