GTD ✅ – Psychological Benefits of GTD

To conclude this series, I wanted to discuss how David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) system addresses some of the psychological factors we talked about earlier.

The Capture step is where we unload things from our brains and into our GTD system. This helps to reduce Working Memory as we can rely on our system to keep track of things instead of relying on our short-term memory. It also helps with the Zeigarnik Effect as it closes loops on the unfinished tasks and unsorted information that we were previously storing in our heads. This also helps to move us from a Stressed to a Relaxed state as we can stop worrying about things we may forget or things we have already forgotten, and we can better focus on the work at hand instead of getting distracted by all the things we still have to do later.

The Clarify and Organize steps are where we process the information and tasks we have collected and integrate them into our GTD system. This helps with Decision Fatigue–so long as the items have been clarified and organized. Ideally, when we pick something from our to-do list, we’re looking for something that is ready to be engaged with. However, if we haven’t clarified and organized that item in our to-do list, then we’re back to having to decide what the next action is before we can engage with it. By batching all this work into the Clarify and Organize steps, we reduce the number of decisions we need to make when we are getting things done. These steps also help with the Zeigarnik Effect and Working Memory when it comes to projects. Because we entrust our system to keep track of on-going projects, we don’t need to worry about what the next action is when we make progress towards a project.

The Reflect step is where we ensure our system is working effectively, and also continues to work effectively so that you build trust in your system. It encompasses attributes from all of the CaptureClarify, and Organize steps. As a result, it also helps with Working Memory, the Zeigarnik EffectDecision Fatigue, and transitioning from a Stressed to a Relaxed state.

The Engage step is where we actually get things done. This step helps with Decision Fatigue. Instead of having to rack your brain for what to do, you now have a list of things that are immediately available for you to do. You may choose to be selective during this process, but even if you do, this has greatly narrowed the set of possible options and thus the impact of decision fatigue. Additionally, this step helps to move you from a Stressed to a Relaxed state as you complete things and feel like you’re getting things done and making progress on your goals.

In summary, there are many psychological factors that can impact our productivity. Allen’s GTD system is a way to help improve our productivity by addressing some of these psychological factors.

Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax.
–David Allen

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