This book and system has massive following. The subtle effectiveness of GTD lies in its common sense notion that a complete and current inventory of all your commitments , organized and reviewed in a systematic way, allows you focus on what needs to be done at any given time.
Capturing anything and everything that has your attention;
Defining actionable things into outcomes and concrete next steps; Organizing reminders and information in categories;
Keeping current with frequent reviews of the six horizons (purpose, vision, goals, areas of focus, projects, and actions)
The Getting Things Done system is very thorough and works best when you follow all the steps Allen suggests. It does take time and effort to get started. It does take discipline to follow all the steps. On the other hand, it is very easy to "get back on" if you stop using the system for a little while.
Who might use this system.
There are two key factors that will determine whether this is for you. The GTD system is great for someone who wants a system they don't have to think about -- just follow all the steps and it will work.
The other key aspect of David Allen's Time Management System is that it starts from the "bottom-up". That is it starts by getting control of every little thing that is in your life at the moment. It starts with the tasks rather than your goals or vision or life purpose.
If these factors are important to you then this system is a great way to go.
Here is a great video of David Allen talking about Getting Things Done to a group of people at Google.
Further down the page we go in to more detail about what GTD involves.
More about GTD
Here we will go in to more detail about the system, but it is important to know that to implement the system you need to buy the book. Allen has gone in to a lot of detail and each aspect is important to make the system work. You can get the book from Amazon.
Getting Started with GTD
Getting started with this system is quite a significant activity in itself. You need many hours, perhaps a day of interrupted time. You a variety of materials including folders, filing cabinets, tickler files, labels, paper clips, post it notes and more. And you need space.
Getting started involves a BIG DUMP of everything that is in your work space and/or home space, your computer, your diary and your head. It includes going through your cupboards, your drawers and your email. SO be prepared before you start -- this is a big job. BUT once done it feels fantastic. I felt so much light physically and mentally when I went through this process. It's worth doing even if you don't follow the rest of the system!
After gathering everything, the next Phase of GTD is to process it all. The system guides you through this. A key factor is deciding what is the next action step associated with the "thing". This guides you on how to process it.
An important step in the system is to set up the right "buckets" (as Allen calls them). This is about creating some lists, your calendar and some physical filing/storage systems. The lists include total projects list (Allen defines a project as anything that requires more than 1 step), next actions list & waiting on list. Allen also goes in to how to process email and manage project support materials.
At this point some people find the system a little overwhelming. We have found those who stick with it get great benefits in the end.
Here are some great sites that go in to a lot of detail or have some great add-ons for GTD.: