GTD & Inbox Zero

How to supercharge your productivity

Posted by Tomy Jaya on April 29, 2016


GTD or Getting Things Done is a time management method created by David Allen. You can view the TED talk below for the key ideas of GTD:

The Art of Stress-Free Productivity: David Allen at TEDxClaremontColleges

Personally, if you are short of time, I wouldn’t recommend reading the book as it’s just basically a rehash of the same principles.

Some important key points from the book:

  • The GTD Flowchart:

The GTD Flowchart

  • Have a system (physical or virtual) which maps with the items in the flow chart. Mine is using OneNote + Outlook for my office work and Evernote + Gmail/ Google Calendar for my personal work.
  • Bootstrap your system by initially capturing everything into your in-trays and process them accordingly. 1 Once done, you should have a list of Next Actions you can work on and hopefully a clear “mind like water” to jumpstart your productive day.
  • Have Weekly Reviews and don’t forget to review your Someday/ Maybe List as well.
  • GTD is in line with research findings in cognitive science. Three of which I find the most relevant are:
    • The Value of External Mind (utiling external system to manage ideas so that our brain can think better)
    • Relieving the cognitive load of Incompletions
    • Flow Theory
  • If GTD can be implemented organizational-wide, the benefit will be immense. Everyone has a trusted functioning system, thereby leaving no room for any communication gap.

Some quotes I like from the book:

  • About compartmentalizing “open loop” to regain your attention: “You must use your mind to get things off your mind”
  • “It is better to be wrong than to be vague.” - Freeman Dyson
  • “Someday/ Maybes are not throwaway items. They may be some of the most interesting and creative things you’ll ever get involved with. “
  • “Checklist can be highly useful to let you know what you don’t need to be concerned about”
  • “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one. “ - Mark Twain
  • “Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. “ - Saint Francis of Assisi
  • “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them. “

Inbox Zero

The Inbox Zero methodology complements GTD really well. Watch the below 1-hour Google Talk to learn about Inbox Zero:

Inbox Zero

Key Idea

Both GTD and Inbox Zero share one seemingly simple fundamental key idea which is introducing a system to reduce clutter. I have implemented both of them in my professional and personal life; as such, I can attest to their efficacy. In short, they really work.

Now that you know these hidden gems, you’re all set to boost your productivity. Good luck!


  1. You can use the trigger list suggested in the book which can be found here as a starting point.