Category Archives: Getting Things Done (GTD)

Getting Things Done. Post related to GTD methodology.

The Weekly Review – How to maintain “Mind Like Water”

Way too often neglited… The weekly review is a fundamental practice to keep “in the train”. Personally, I save 2 hours every Fridays’ afternoon for this, doing my best to protect them against late meeting requests and other disturbances.

GTD for CIOs

At this time of the year many people want to get back on the GTD bandwagon because they are in a reflective mode of self improvement.  They know it works and know the stress reduction it can provide.  They know when practiced diligently it can provide what David Allen calls “Mind Like Water.”  When you are in this state you can feel great about where you are, what you are doing and what you are not doing.  For anyone who has experienced this feeling it is amazing and they want to get back there.

So many people ask me how they can “really do GTD right this time?”  Like a diet or a new year’s resolution, they really want to be successful, but deep down fear they will fail over the long term.  The want a magic bullet or trick that will help them to succeed with GTD over the…

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David Allen: Cloud Computing and GTD – Let’s dig a bit

Today, is another day… It’s been a while I didn’t post on GTD here, so let’s do it! Thanks to my mate @swiertz, for letting me know about this video, which I watched / listened to: David Allen video about GTD and “the could computing”.

Here is the video:

Watching this video made me think a lot on my way of practicing GTD, actually, to be more accurate, on my way to deal with my “trust system”.

First of all, yes, GTD is a way of thinking. In this way, technology doesn’t really matter, what matter is that you find YOUR trustable system to manage your next actions. When I speak to people about GTD, I often say that they have to find their way. No matter if it is a piece of paper or a brand new iphone or google phone… it all depends on what you like and trust. If you know /read me before, you might noticed that I’m quite fund of tech stuffs! Anyhow, I’m fully aware of the disaster that might occurs on these kind of devices, such as hard disk crashes, losing your phone with all your data in or even more easy: formating it by mistake. Don’t think it only happens to the others, it happens and if you have not been pro-active, you’ll remember it for a while!

This is where comes the “could computing”… To me using this way to store / secure your live data from anywhere (does work from the plane too if you use a good tools such as “Google Gears”) is very  important to keep you secured about your “trust system”.

As David Allen mentions in his book, one important characteristic of your “trust system” is that you must be able to access it from anywhere and to trust it. If you take any computer device, you are never on the safe side when it come to data integrity. Hard disk crash, houses get on fire, smart phones get stolen… If everything is store in on place, then there is a huge risk. I have been experimenting it sometimes… so here is where the “cloud” technology can help. Having your data accessible from anywhere (mixing it with local temporary storage), synchronizing it. You are not afraid anymore to have your computer stolen or your hard disk crashed… This is a real relief.

What matters is your data, not your hardware(s). “Cloud computing” is a way to secure your data. It is not (and should not be) the only one, since it has his own risk (such as immaturity, security…) but it has a lot to bring. When I started GTD, I was as David Allen describes in his video: dependent of my computer. Even if it was not a desktop computer, it is difficult to have it always on you, ready to catch you stuffs. This is why I looked for other solutions, without letting my computer down, since it has a lot of advantage too. This is when I turn to the “cloud computing”. It was not named as cloud, but as usual, it was already there.

GTD helping to handle EA complexity (Enterprise Architecture)

As you already might know, I use to call myself a “GTD addict”.

The basic idea with GTD is that any time a new task shows up on your plate, be it from an email, something that popped into your mind, or a phone call – you write it down. I already described how I manage my to-do lists and how I review them (see articles: GTD & mind mapping – Part I & II ), but now let me tell you about how to apply GTD to EA (Enterprise Architecture) activities.

Basic idea:

When you have a few minutes to think, you sit down at your desk and work on your inbox. You’re going to priorize and sort your todos so that they are actionable. At this point, GTD’s concept of “43 folders” comes into play. At your desk, you’ll have a set of 43 paper folders – 12 for the months of the year, and 31 for the days of the month. As you go through the todos in your inbox, you simply choose one of those 43 folders to drop the item into. If you can get to your “Schedule Business Architecture meeting” task on the 15th of this month, you drop it into the “15″ folder. If you need to “Upgrade the SOA Repository Server” in January when a new patch is release, you drop that note into the “January” folder. What you’re doing is creating reminders to your future self.

You see how the whole system revolves around moving “todos” out of unreliable storage (your memory) into reliable storage (your inbox), and finally into organized storage (your 43 folders). The idea is that your mind’s full mental capacity is freed up to execute tasks because this simple system is managing the timing and organization of those tasks.

There are more subtleties to the system, such as managing tasks around projects and delegating to others, but this essentially describes how GTD works.

Why Does This Matter to me as an Enterprise Architect?

Because of the broad scope of EA’s responsibility, I’m sure you’re familiar with the constant barrage of requests for your time. You need a good system to manage all of these requests to ensure that you’re delivering value to your stakeholders. In my experience, GTD is an extremely effective tool for this purpose.

In addition to GTD methodology, I use mind mapping. Mind mapping can also help you to handle complexity. If you use it in a way to connect information in an organized way, then you reach the quintessential of mind mapping. Then, mix it with GTD methodology and tools like Result Manager and almost nothing becomes impossible to you when it comes to manage complex relationships between different entities. For more info, read this post.

Where Do I Get More Information?

Read David Allen’s books and through this blog…

GTD & mind mapping Part II





In the previous article (GTD & mind mapping Part I), I described « my way » of applying GTD on my life. In this article, I will explain how I take advantage of all the work I described before.


Everything stand in 3 main steps also called the “reviews”: daily review, weekly review and monthly review. Each one of these steps is important and treats different aspects of what you intend to do.


Daily review


  • Complete an “emergency scan”, looking for things that are about to fall on your head
  • Sweep up all loose ends and new activities


Purpose of Daily review

  • To keep track of deadlines
  • To make the best use of your time by using contexts (@home, @office, @phone, @email…)
  • To check that your next actions are actionable


How to review

  • Look for next actions that are not clearly enough defined to take action on
  • Look ahead for the contexts that you are likely to be able to use today
  • Look at today’s bring-forward or tickler file
  • Look ahead to tomorrow’s calendar and bring-forward file to check whether you need to make any additional preparations


Time budget

·         A few minutes (depending on your amount of actions… it takes me about 20 min every morning)




The Weekly Review



  • Sweep up all loose ends and new activities
  • Get your in-boxes and in-trays to zero


Purpose of Weekly review

  • To check that you are making progress with Projects and Results
  • To identify the Next Actions in your Projects and Results for the next week


How to review

  • Check the Next Action for each of your current Projects and Results. Check that it is actionable and does not need any additional preparation such as a decision or some extra information. If it does, add it
  • Consider whether the Next Action on each of the Projects or Results is the one that is the most likely to deliver the outcome you want; if not, change its status to “uncommitted”. Remember, 20% of your actions create 80% of your achievements
  • Look for Committed projects and Results that have no Next Action. If you have used a Context for the next Weekly Review, look through these activities and decide what kind of activity they are, and whether you need to take action on them
  • If you have used a “Weekly Review” Context, check through the new ideas or inputs and decide whether to make them projects – Do they contribute towards your higher level objectives?


Time budget

·         A couple of hours





The Monthly Review



·         Sweep up all loose ends and new activities


Purpose of Monthly review

·         To check that you are working on the right Projects, and that the Results and Actions you have identified in each Project are the best ones to take you forward

·         To add new Projects or close down old ones. The monthly review sets your main priorities for the month, against which any new opportunities or requests are evaluated


How to review

  • Look for uncommitted projects that should be activated
  • Look for projects that are running out of steam that you can deactivate
  • If you have used a “Monthly Review” Context, check through the new ideas or inputs and decide whether to make them projects – do they contribute towards your higher level objectives?
  • Review each of your committed projects in detail, and add or discard Action items and Results to keep the project focused on its outcome
  • Check that the project outcome statements reflect what you need the project to deliver, and that the Actions and Results are the ones most likely to deliver the outcome effectively. Re-prioritise them if necessary
  • Defer unimportant things until the next review, or put them on a bring-forward list or tickler file for consideration at a later date


Time budget

·         A few hours – this review and refocusing process is the most important work you will do each month, so it has to be worth your best quality time. Schedule the Monthly Review for a time when you are likely to be alert and inspired, not burnt out






GTD & Mind Mapping (Part I)


Getting Things Done (commonly abbreviated as GTD) is an action management method created by David Allen, and described in a book of the same name. Both “Getting Things Done” and “GTD” are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company.
GTD rests on the principle that a person needs to move tasks out of the mind by recording them externally. That way, the mind is freed from the job of remembering everything that needs to be done, and can concentrate on actually performing those tasks.GTD can be practiced through different methodologies and tools. As a fan of new technologies (ok, let’s admit it: I’m a geek), my way of practicing GTD is through new technologies such as mobile devices (Iphone 3G), internet and more fancy little electronic tools… But, what I intend to describe to you now, is not how do I use these tools, but is more:
How do I combine GTD with Mind Mapping approach, which makes GTD even more powerful and useful for you.
My way
First of all, I need to tell you a bit about the tools I use, even if my intend is not necessarily to make you use the same tools (I have no stoke in any of these companies). So, I use both Mind Manager Pro 7® (Mindjet) and two plug-ins called: GyroQ & Result Manager® (Gyronix).
 Everything is based upon my “Central Map”:
 Entry point to all my mindmaps (more than 600)
This map represents all my life… It is the entry point of thousands of topics (about 8,000 right now) embedded in hundreds of maps, which are structured into folder tree on my hard disk (which is constantly replicated on my archive server). Some might think it’s sad that everything in my life is categorized, written… Of course, I still have some private life which I don’t want to share, even with my computers! :o) but, let’s put it that way: everything that is actionable or needs to be reminded of is in there.
This requires, of course, a lot of self-discipline to keep it up-to-date, but trust me, if you can achieve it, it worth it thousands times the energy and effort you put in to keep it updated.
I won’t go more in details of GTD, there are experts for that (David Allen or his books for instance…)  But, thanks to this work, I’m able to filter out every day my to-do list of the day… You will tell me: “Ok, I do it to with my to-do application too (whatever it is: Nozbe, 43actions, Remember the milk…), yes, I know… this is where the best part comes! Result Manager allow you to keep you action (from you to-do list) in context!
Let’s take an example:
You took as action on your mobile device: “write the meeting minutes”
Coming back to it few days after, you’ll wonder… What meeting do I need to write the minutes??? After few minutes, you will let this action down, and forget about it… Then, few weeks after, you will wonder why you keep feeling your to-do list since you don’t do the actions that are listed… So you will let it down too. And back to your overwhelming day to day life, you will run into your mailbox (full) trying to empty it… Unfortunately, mails keep coming into it and you keep being overloaded…
This is why, Result Manager, with its capability to keep actions in context will help you!
Thanks to the combination of Mind Mapping and GTD, I have been able to decrease my stress level to a degree that I could not imagine before. My unread emails don’t go other 30 mails, while I was about 900 unread mails before. I keep receiving between 80 to 150 emails a day, as I keep having more 6 hours meetings per day, but I can tell you, when I go home my brain is free and I don’t wake up at 4:00 AM thinking about what I didn’t say to this one or what I should did yesterday…
More to come in the coming articles…


Getting Things Done (souvent appellé “GTD”) est une méthode pragmatique de gestion personelle créer par David Allen, et décrite dans plusieurs livres, dont un du même nom « Getting Things Done ».


GTD repose sur le principe selon lequel une personne a besoin de transférer ses tâches (actions) de son esprit vers un système extérieur en les y enregistrant. De cette façon, l’esprit est libéré de la tâche de se souvenir de tout ce qui doit être fait, et peut se concentrer sur l’accomplissement de ces tâches.


GTD peut être pratiqué grâce à différentes méthodes et outils. En tant que fan de nouvelles technologies (ok, je le reconnais: je suis un « geek »), ma façon de pratiquer GTD est par le biais de nouvelles technologies telles que les appareils mobiles (Iphone 3G), internet et tout les outils électroniques à la pointe de la technologie … Mais, ce dont j’ai l’intention de vous parler, n’est pas la manière dont j’utilise ces outils, mais bien plus :


De quelle manière puis-je combiner l’approche GTD avec le Mind Mapping ? Ce qui rend la méthode GTD encore plus puissant et utile pour vous.



My way


Tout d’abord, je besoin de vous mentionner les outils que j’utilise, même si mon intention n’est pas nécessairement de vous faire utiliser les mêmes outils (je n’ai pas d’action dans aucune de ces sociétés). Donc, je utilise Mind Manager Pro 7 ® (Mindjet) et de deux plug-ins appelé: GyroQ & Result Manager ® (Gyronix).

Tout est basé sur ma “carte centrale”:



















        Cette carte représente toute ma vie … Il est le point d’entrée de milliers de « sujets » (environ 8000 actuellement) encapsulés dans des centaines de cartes, qui sont, elles-mêmes, structurées en arborescence de dossiers sur mon disque dur (qui est constamment répliqué sur mon serveur d’archives). Certains pourraient penser qu’il est triste que tout dans ma vie soit classée,  répertoriée,… Bien sûr, j’ai encore un peu de vie privée que je ne veux pas partager, même avec mon ordinateur! :o) Mais, formulons le de cette façon: « tout ce qui est une action (tâche) ou tout ce dont je dois me rappeler, y figure ».

Cela exige, bien entendu, beaucoup d’autodiscipline pour garder à jour mon système, mais croyez-moi, si vous pouvez y parvenir, cela vaut des milliers de fois l’énergie et les efforts que vous avez fourni pour maintenir à jour votre système.

Je ne vais pas entrer plus dans les détails de la méthode GTD, il y a des experts pour ça (David Allen et ses livres, par exemple …) Mais grâce à ce travail, je suis capable de filtrer tous les jours de ma liste de choses à faire (To-do list) de la journée …

Vous allez me dire: « Ok, je suis capable de faire la même chose avec beaucoup moins de chose : bloc-note, feuille volante ou même grâce à des outils tels que « Remember the Milk », Nozbe, 43actions… » oui, je sais … c’est là que le meilleur vient! Result Manager vous permet de resituer votre tâche dans son contexte!


Prenons un exemple:

Vous avez enregistré comme tâche sur votre PDA: “Ecrire les minutes de la réunion”

Lorsque vous revenez dessus, quelques jours plus tard, vous vous demanderez … De quelle réunion dois-je écrire le procès-verbal? Après quelques minutes (seconde le plus souvent), vous reporterez cette action à  plus tard, puis vous l’oublierez… Puis, quelques semaines après, vous allez me demander pourquoi vous continuez à écrire la liste de choses à faire puisque vous ne faites pas les actions qui sont énumérées … Donc, vous laisserez de côté votre To-do list, puisque de toute façon, vous savez ce qu’il est important que vous fassiez… Et vous voilà de retour à votre vie surchargée et stressante, vous demandant pourquoi les jours ne durent que 24 h… Vous vous précipiterez dans votre boîte email (débordante) afin d’essayer de la vider … Malheureusement, les mails continue à arriver et vous, vous continuez d’être surchargé…


C’est pourquoi, Result Manager, avec sa capacité de maintenir les actions dans leurs contextes vous aidera!



Grâce à la combinaison de Mind Mapping et GTD, j’ai pu diminuer mon niveau de stress à un degré que je n’avais jamais pu imaginer auparavant. Mes emails non lus ne dépassent plus les 30 mails, alors que j’étais environ 900 mails non lus avant. A savoir, je reçois entre 80 à 150 emails par jour, comme je continue à avoir plus 6 heures de réunions par jour, mais je peux vous dire, quand je rentre chez moi, mon cerveau est libéré et je ne suis pas se réveillé à 4:00 du matin par mes réflexions sur ce que je n’ai pas dit à celui-ci ou de ce que je fait la veille…

Plus à venir dans les prochains articles …