Getting Things Done

This year I discovered that I am an HSP (High Sensitive Person) and on top of that I am a HSS (High Sensation Seeker), which means that I am continuously looking for new challenges. Constantly looking for new things to do and absolutely no patience for anything that seems like repetition or routine. Unfortunately, this also means that I have to write everything down to make sure I don’t forget. At work as a secretary, I use the Getting Things Done method to make sure I remember everything.

Getting Things Done

The Getting Things Done system was invented by David Allen. He believes that we waste a lot of energy remembering ideas and tasks in our heads. We use our brain as a mnemonic device, but that’s not what the brain is meant for. We tell our brains to remember something, but how many times have our brains reminded us that something at the right time? Usually, the desired information comes up at a time when you don’t need it which is a waste of our energy. We can make better use of our brain by letting it do what it is supposed to do.


The GTD system works as follows. Collect everything you receive, what you think of, what you still have to do in a collecting box. This can be a physical box or the inbox of your mail program. Then look at everything that is in your container and handle it according to the following system:

  • Do you need to do something with the information?
    • No? Throw it away.
    • Yes?
      • Do it right away if you can do it in less than two minutes
      • Delegate it if it doesn’t belong to you
      • Put it in your calendar if it needs to be done at a later time
      • or keep it in your archive.


In practice, this means that I look at the emails in my mailbox from work every morning and ask myself the question with every new email: Do I have to do something about this?

  • If I don’t have to do anything with it, I throw it away. (Think of newsletters, advertising)
  • If I don’t have to do anything with it now, but it could be interesting later on I’ll keep it to read later. (Think of information for, for example, a department outing or manuals.
  • If I do have to do something with it, the question is: What is the next action?
    • Can I run it in less than two minutes? I will do it right away.
    • Does it take more time than two minutes to complete the action? Then I move the mail to my to-do list to do later.

This way you store everything you need to do in the right place to do it at the right time and you don’t have to use your brain to remember. And when you think of something work-related in your sparetime, you send an e-mail to your work and handle it neatly via the system the next day. Since I started to work this way, I noticed that my mind became calmer and I became less chaotic. So now I use the method both at work and at home.

The system is not perfect by the way. It falls and stands when keeping track of your mailbox and your to-do list and stop telling yourself that you do not have to write it down, because you will remember it. Which you don’t.
And for me there is also the problem of prioritizing the things on my to-do list, but that is maybe a topic for another blogpost.

If you are interested in the system, I can recommend this book (aff.) by David Allen. Besides the information I wrote about in this blog he gives more detailed information of each step in the process, the how, why, and the pitfalls you can encounter.

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