Most of us struggle with time in one way or other. Some of us never seem to have time available, while others may have time available to them… but no plans on how to take advantage of it. There is no shortage of advice to be had on the topics of time management and personal productivity, but the Getting Things Done (GTD) approach is one of the most popular. The GTD workflow is most often represented in a variety of task management and to-do list applications.

The workflow may seem familiar to people who use a task management system, like Jira, at work. First, you collect or capture the different items and tasks that you need to keep track of. These may range from notes on scrap paper to voice memos captured on your mobile phone. Once everything is collected, it can be clarified and organized. There is a lot of flexibility here, but effective planning is the foundation. (visit Wikipedia for the “official” process)

While going through your list, ask questions like:

  • Do I have what I need in order to accomplish this?
  • Is this something I can do right now?
  • How long will this take?
  • Which items have a greater priority than the others?

Determine what needs to be done and when it can be accomplished. This can mean scheduling an appointment, setting aside a large block of time on your calendar, or compiling a list of everything you need to grab the next time you visit the home-improvement store.

Of course, once the system is in place, it will need to be maintained. You’ll need to reflect on a regular basis, identify next steps and update priorities. The benefit of a well-maintained system is that you have a good idea of what you need to do and when, allowing you to engage and focus on the task at hand.