zen habits : breathe

5 Simple, Effective GTD Tools

Post written by Leo Babauta.

Recently I posted my new twist on the excellent GTD system, Zen To Done (ZTD): The Ultimate Simple Productivity System. This is the fifth in a series of posts exploring each of the 10 Habits.

Are you a fan of GTD? What’s your trusted system? GTD, and my twist on it, ZTD, recommend that you keep your task in a series of lists based on different contexts. And while many popular GTD tools (Kinkless, stikkit, Outlook, Remember the Milk, etc.) make things a bit complicated, the truth is that all you need are lists.

Many followers of GTD get caught up in fiddling with the tools, with creating complicated systems, changing tools and systems every week or two, instead of actually getting things done. But ZTD asks you to use the simplest tools possible, and then forget about them. ZTD is about the doing, not the tools.

ZTD Habit 5: simple trusted system – keep simple lists, check daily.

GTD asks you to place your tasks (“next actions”) in a series of context lists, such as @work, @phone, @home, @errands, @waiting, etc. Basically, you need to ask yourself “What can I accomplish right now, based on where I am and what tools are in front of me?” and then focus only on those tasks. GTD simplifies that process by breaking down your lists into separate contexts, so you only need to worry about the context you’re in right now, and not about any other contexts. There are also a couple of other lists in GTD: the someday/maybe list (stuff you can’t do now but might do someday) and the waiting-for list (a great way to remember to follow up on stuff).

That’s the easy part. Now the question is: which tool to use to keep your lists. Here are my recommendations — the simplest, most effective GTD tools:

Once you’ve selected a tool, set up your lists, and keep them simple!

The next part of this habit, and really the most important part (more important than the tool you use), is checking your lists every day. This needs to become a habit, and as a such, it will require special focus for about 30 days. Once you make checking your lists a daily habit, your life will become much more organized and productive.


Read more about simple productivity, focus and getting great things done in my book, The Power of Less.



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