zen habits : breathe

5 Ways GTD Helps You Achieve Your Goals

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on twitter or identica.

I’ve mentioned that I’m a GTD addict on this site before (My GTD Implementation, Beginner’s GTD Guide, Mind Like Water), but I’d like to talk about why it’s a good tool for achieving your goals.

Now, if you’re trying to achieve goals, you don’t need to implement GTD … many have done just fine without it, of course. But every advantage that you can get will help, and GTD is just one tool that can help give you an advantage.

Here’s how:

  1. GTD breaks your goals down to the next-action level. Many people have big goals, but they don’t take it to the action level. GTD mandates that you select a next action for each project (and I consider each goal a project; although sub-goals could also be projects). This makes it much more likely that you’ll actually do something to further your goals.
  2. GTD helps you track your goals effectively. While you are not required to list your goals to start out GTD, it is encouraged once you get past the “runway” level and start looking at more elevated levels of life. But, in my case, I’d already started setting my goals, so they fit nicely in the GTD system as projects. And, if you’re doing GTD right, with a weekly review, then you review your projects — and thus your goals — on a weekly basis, and ensure that there’s a next action for each goal in one of your context action lists.
  3. GTD helps you put your goal next actions in the proper context. There are some goal actions that you can only take in a certain place — say, at home, or at work, or on the road. If your goal actions are all on one list, or all together with all the other stuff you have to do on a Master List, then you’ll have to constantly evaluate whether you can actually do each action, all the time. GTD sorts this out — only the actions you can do at work are on your @work context list, etc. It simplifies things and makes it more likely that you’ll actually get the stuff done.
  4. GTD clears up time for you to do your goal actions. OK, this is not a guarantee. Doing GTD doesn’t ensure that you’ll actually get stuff done … but it does make it more likely, once you begin to master the system (and not continually tweak it). And it can help you clear away the smaller things so that when you want to work on your goal actions, you have the time.
  5. GTD lets you focus on your goals. One of the problems in our daily lives is that we’re distracted by all the things we have to do — not just the stuff we’re actually doing, but even the stuff we’re not doing. GTD helps you clear away the distractions, putting them in a trusted system, so that you can clear your head to focus on what it is you really want or need to do (admittedly, even with GTD, this is not easily accomplished). If that happens to be your goal actions, then you can really focus on them. And focus is what really makes goals happen (and anything else for that matter).

Let me just conclude by saying that GTD is no magic wand that will make your goals come true. No such thing exists, of course. GTD is just a tool, but it is a very useful tool, and I highly recommend it for anyone trying to make dreams a reality.

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