Life runs smoother when you’re productive. Achieving a work-life balance is critical to your overall happiness. GTD alternatives are out there. They’re simple, easy to follow, and can have a tremendous impact on who you are and what you can do with your life.
What is GTD?
GTD stands for Getting Things Done. It’s a work-life management system that was created by David Allen. While the methodology shows how you approach your life and work, many find it to be overwhelming.
When you follow the system, you can plan and track your projects and ensure that you’re in control. The alternative is that everything is mismanaged and your tasks are controlling you.
The system ensures you don’t forget or ignore anything. You reduce your stress and you gain valuable time back in your day.
The biggest issue with GTD is that it’s complex. If you are going to get the full benefit out of the system, you have to use all of the parts. It can be time-consuming to learn, which means that many people give up before they’ve seen the benefits.
I gave up. I tried to maintain the system, but it was taking hours a week to manage it all. Soon, I was out of control, my system was out of date, and the whole thing became ineffective.
That’s when I turned to some GTD alternatives.
Top GTD Alternatives
If the Getting Things Done system worked for you, great. However, if you found that it was overwhelming and, ultimately, ineffective, then stick with me.
I’ve found seriously simple GTD alternatives that you can implement in your day-to-day life. They can change your productivity levels and give you more time for the things you really love.
Autofocus is a great GTD alternative, especially when you feel as though you have a backlog that needs to be targeted.
Rather than having multiple folders and lists vying for your attention, Autofocus is a single list. The creator of the system, Mark Forster, explains that you write everything into one list. Read through the list to simply take it all in.
On the second pass, scan the list until you feel one task pulling at you. This is your “autofocus” telling you what needs your attention. The belief is that things that you want to work on and things that need to get done will pull on your autofocus.
Some people have found that this works in conjunction with another system that is a bit more deadline-oriented.
Autofocus is a great system for the never-ending list of chores to do around the house. When you have meetings and deadlines weighing on you at work, however, it’s good to have a more organized system in place.
TickTick is an app that you can download on your smartphone. When you are more concerned with the tasks that you need to complete more than anything else, this can end up working very well.
Essentially, you create a checklist for the tasks that you need to complete. You can also create a test description.
There’s a free version and a version that costs. I’d recommend spending the money on the monthly subscription. You’ll get more tasks and lists. Plus, you can add collaborators.
If you ever plan on delegating, whether it’s to your co-workers or even to your children, you’ll be happy that you have the paid version.
Millions of people are using this app. You can manage your to-do lists for your work life and personal life. Plus, you can set reminders so that you never have to worry about missing a deadline.
Strikethru is a system that is only as complicated as you make it. There are tiers in the system to help you decide just how comprehensive you want to be. There are two types of lists: live and vault.
The live lists are for those you’re working through currently.
The vault is a collection of themed lists, such as groceries, holiday presents, or a wish list.
The Strikethru system can live in virtually any format that you desire. It can be something that you use in print, on your computer, or on a mobile device.
The idea is that you only ever work through your ‘live’ list. It ensures you don’t become overwhelmed by tasks that have later deadlines. Focus on what needs to get done right away so you can work toward everything else going on.
GSD is often considered the anti-GTD. It gets right down to business and stands for “Getting Sh*t Done.” When you want a simpler way to organize, this is going to help you.
One of the reasons why GSD is a popular GTD alternative is that you’re only given two lists. One is a master of everything and one is a daily list for you to work from.
The key, according to its creator Bill Westerman, is to make all of the tasks actionable. Don’t say something random like “figure out marketing plan.” Instead, break it out into actionable tasks, such as contacting marketers or meet with the marketing department.
Every morning, you’re encouraged to perform a “brain dump” of all of the tasks that need to get done. By writing them down, you’re able to focus on what needs to be done. It can help to clear your mind so that you’re more focused throughout the day.
In addition to working with GSD on your computer, you can also download the app “Todoist” so that your list can be accessed on the go.
Maintain a Physical Planner
The reality is that many people do better with seeing everything in front of them, not on a digital screen. This is when it’s effective to get a physical planner. Choose one that goes through the entire year.
The best planners have a monthly and weekly tab. Opt for one that is 8×10 or larger so that there’s enough room to write out your schedule and take notes.
Once you have two or three things on each day, stop. You don’t want to overexert yourself. Learn the fine art of saying “no” so that you’re not taking on more than you can handle.
Many of the concepts that you learn from the other systems, like Getting Things Done, can be applied when you start using a physical planner. Make your task lists and check them off. Tasks that don’t get finished can be carried over to the next day.
It’s not always about achieving the perfect work-life balance. Often, it’s about realizing that it’s futile to try. You’ll never have it down perfectly.
Various self-help books can shed some light on the struggle to achieve the right balance. I’m a big fan of “Curating Your Life” by Gail Golden. She uses case studies to prove her points.
By the end of the book, you’ll learn about how to set priorities and techniques to help you with self-reflection.
As an extra tip, it’s important to avoid hyperscheduling. This is when you schedule virtually everything in your life. It can be overwhelming and will steal the quality from your life. Put the important things down. Everything else will tend to fall into place.
Explore the GTD Alternatives in Your Life
Especially when you find GTD too complicated, you have to find GTD alternatives that work for you. It’s not okay to be constantly stressed.
There are plenty of alternatives, so put one to the test. If you find it to be too overwhelming, choose another. You’re bound to find one that allows you to take back control of your life.
Look for ones that cater to your needs:
- Prioritizing certain tasks
- Providing reminders
- Keeping track of deadlines
- Remembering various meetings
Once you know where you need the help, it’s easier to find a system that works. With so many different apps and organizers out there, do your research. Read the reviews to see what they have to offer. Understanding the pros and cons will also ensure you buy the right system for you.
Ultimately, one of the reasons why the GTD system became successful is that it teaches you how to self-evaluate. You learn what’s important and what needs to be prioritized. As you gain perspective into your life, the organization starts to fall into place.
Any of the GTD alternatives will work as long as you’re honest with yourself. As David Allen has said, the goal of the system is to be “winning at the game of work and the business of life.”
When you become more productive at work, you win. When you have more time for life, you enjoy yourself more. The systems and the apps and the planners are out there. When you figure out what is your priority, it all falls into place. The systems and apps and planners simply help you to keep it all organized.
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