Author: Denis Spiers

est. reading time: 3:19 mins

We have entered a wild world of uncertainty and ambiguity. Now, I’m a firm believer in the power of learning and the ability to adjust, just like the great Leonardo da Vinci said, “Learning never exhausts the mind.” Or as Ronald E. Osborn put it, “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”

But I could do with just a little more certainty and reliability in my life. From the pandemic to war in Europe, inflation, and a slew of other crises, so much has come out of joint and shaken the fundamentals of how businesses are run, decisions are made, lives are lived. It’s a universal sentiment, and this is not going to slow down any time soon.

Like everyone else, I have a personal journey through this, and it has transformed my perspective on GTD® (Getting Things Done):

2014 – GTD is a process

At the beginning of my GTD journey in 2014, I understood GTD as a way to process what I would call life-input – all that life is throwing at me. It made me way more efficient than I would have ever imagined. Thanks to Spencer Hanlon, who introduced me to GTD, I was lucky enough to be part of a company culture that fully embraced it. I was surrounded by people at different stages of adopting and mastering GTD, and together, we explored its potential. We loved how it changed the way we worked, interacted, and functioned as an organization. It was a game-changer. I had some great mentors (@Todd Brown, @Christian Kersten, @Ed Lamont and others), and discussing with them, over time it became clear to me that …

2017 – GTD is a methodology

Which made it way more than the way I processed input. I went through the exercise of defining my vision and my purpose, and that forever changed the way I allocated tasks, projects, and goals: Aligned with what really mattered to me. Thus, GTD gave me the power of “No”. Saying “No” to things I could do, things I would have enjoyed doing, and things I would have excelled at, but that wouldn’t pay dividends towards my vision and purpose. All was going well. Then came C. Ovid, 19, and shook the world.

Like so many others, I had to reassess my career path during these uncertain times, that being quite an interesting tale by itself. Somewhere along the line things became fuzzy on the edges, inaccurate, even misguiding. I was going through unclear waters and uncharted territories. And in the process, I realized something important—GTD is not just a methodology or process.

2020 – GTD is a set of principles.

Let me share some of these principles with you.

Principle 1: Give your brain space to work – How? Capture everything. This way, your brain can take a break from playing hide-and-seek with your fears, foes and brilliant ideas and focus on the task at hand – navigating through layers of uncertainty.

Principle 2: Channel your focus and define the shape – How? Ask yourself the tough question: What exactly is the next physical action needed for each task? It’s like shining a light on those creepy little to-do-ish bits and pieces, and clarifying their purpose.

Principle 3: There is a time and place – the context – for everything under the sun – How? Organize your tasks into categories, labels, or whatever system works best for you. Find your trusted system and stick to it.

Principle 4: Reflect and review. – How? Take a step back, put your feet up. Reflect on what you’ve accomplished. Then in the context of your current situation, decide on the right thing to do to move you closer to your vision and purpose.

2023 – In a wild world of uncertainty, these principles of GTD have become my satnav through murky waters. But more than that: GTD helps me to defend my comfort zone, the state of mind I need to grow, the peace of mind I need to thrive.

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