A quick peek inside the Getting Things Done Workbook

GTD Workbook: A Brief Summary

The new Getting Things Done Workbook was just released and I hesitated buying it. I didn’t know what I would be getting. Oh, I don’t need a workbook to do GTD. I’m pretty good at it. I’ve already read Getting Things Done, Making It All Work, and Getting Things Done for Teens, and Ready For Anything. But somehow this book occupies a different niche.


How To Use The Book

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The book blurb states that this workbook is…

An accessible, practical, step-by-step how-to guide that supplements Getting Things Done by providing the details, the how-to’s, and the practices to apply GTD more fully and easily in daily life.

The book is concise and offers a few things the other GTD books don’t have:

  • Insights - Stories from the GTD community with tips, tricks, and quotes.
  • Deep Dives - Detailed examples of each of the ten GTD moves.
  • FAQs - Some Frequently Asked Questions answered by the GTD community.
  • Progress Tracker - Track your progress as you work your way through the checklists to ensure you haven’t missed a step.
  • Checklists - A quick checklist that gives instructions on what to work on next. Check them off as needed.

Whenever I needed to perform a tuneup of my GTD habits. I reached for my well-worn copy of GTD and go through it to see if I needed to brush up on a workflow I’ve become sloppy in. Now, I can go through a quick checklist in the GTD Workbook and improve my GTD practices. This book is compact at 224 pages long. Its short length allows me to get right to the heart of my workflow. There’s no need to wade through the sometimes dry style that the other GTD books have.


Assessing My Current GTD Status

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Determine your place in GTD mastery by rating yourself on a quick 15 question survey. You’ll need to know where you are now before you can figure out what is the next action to work on. Whether you’re a beginner or near the top, there is always room for improvement. I’ve found several areas where I see room to grow and solidify my GTD practices.

There are five GTD steps with two to three moves in each step. Go through each step and its corresponding moves. Check them off as you continue your GTD tuneup.


Step 1 : Capturing

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  • Move 1: Capture all incoming items into your inbox
  • Move 2: Choosing a capture tool
  • Move 3: Do a Mind Sweep

Master the art of capturing by performing these three moves. If you don’t capture what’s on your mind, you’ll lose it. Gather all those loose papers, books, blog posts, appointment cards, and anything else that is on your mind.


Step 2: Clarifying

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  • Move 4: Get in-tray to empty
  • Move 5: Get emails to zero

Gain control of your life and move inbox items by doing any 2 minute tasks as well as delegating or differing tasks. Use the Clarifying checklist to move inbox items into your task manager, calendar, general reference, or trash.


Step 3: Organizing

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  • Move 6: Create a Next Action list and other Lists
  • Move 7: Keep Track of Your Projects on One List
  • Move 8: Create Folders to Stay Organized

Organize your miscellaneous next actions into projects and Next Action lists, Waiting For list, and Someday/Maybe lists. Create folders to store any physical documents and digital files.


Step 4: Reflecting

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  • Move 9: Do a GTD Weekly Review
  • Move 10: Do a Daily Review

Keep your system up-to-date with a daily review and a weekly review. If your system is not fresh, you won’t trust it anymore because it no longer reflects reality. This step gives us confidence that we have a trusted system we can rely on.


Step 5: Engaging

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  • Perform a daily review each morning or night before by checking you calendar and next action lists.
  • Clarify today’s inbox items and organize them into the proper lists on a daily basis.
  • Determine the correct next action to work on now based on context, time available, energy available, and priority.

After all the planning and reviewing is done, it’s time to get to work. You will be confident knowing what you want to do every day.


The Summary

We may have read the GTD book multiple times but we can always find something to improve. Instead of reading the GTD book, use the GTD Workbook to speed up the GTD tune-up. It is loaded with tips and observations from GTD practitioners to give us a jumpstart when we feel stuck. The checklists offered inside gives us a guided tour through the GTD workflow.

I’m thinking of the workbook as my personal coach to keep me on track. It guides me like my gym coach. In David Allen’s ultimate GTD app, there was an overall theme of having his ultimate dream app guide him in the GTD principles. This book is the next best thing to having a personal session with a licensed GTD coach. Keep it on your desk when you feel the need to get a walkthrough some of the steps in capturing, clarifying, organizing, engaging, and reflecting. It’s well worth the price of admission.

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I think I’m going to add this book to my list after this review. I haven’t been a huge GTD practitioner, but I’m definitely heavily influenced by it.

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