philoserf (philoserf) wrote,


I have recently extended my personal planning process with a personal execution process. I had been trained in the Franklin Covey method. I find it to be an excellent planning process. For me, it did not work as well as an aid to action. An encounter with GTD and some experimentation lead to a feeling of relief. It seems to work. Now we have academic examination of the utility of GTD as an aid to execution.

Getting Things Done:
The Science behind Stress-Free Productivity

Francis Heylighen and Clément Vidal

ECCO - Evolution, Complexity and Cognition research group
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University of Brussels)
Krijgskundestraat 33, 1160 Brussels, Belgium
Phone +32-2-640 67 37
Fax +32-2-6440744,

Abstract: Allen (2001) proposed the “Getting Things Done” (GTD) method for personal productivity enhancement, and reduction of the stress caused by information overload. This paper argues that recent insights in psychology and cognitive science support and extend GTD’s recommendations. We first summarize GTD with the help of a flowchart. We then review the theories of situated, embodied and distributed cognition that purport to explain how the brain processes information and plans actions in the real world. The conclusion is that the brain heavily relies on the environment, to function as an external memory, a trigger for actions, and a source of affordances, disturbances and feedback. We then show how these principles are practically implemented in GTD, with its focus on organizing tasks into “actionable” external memories, and on opportunistic, situation-dependent execution. Finally, we propose an extension of GTD to support collaborative work, inspired by the concept of stigmergy.

Keywords: personal productivity, personal information management, time management, task management, praxeology, situated and embodied cognition, stigmergy, information overload.

  • Moved

    I have moved to WordPress at

  • Selection Problem

    I'm finally reading Leo Babauta's The Power of Less. I have read, or have on the list to read, many productivity books. It is a fascination of…

  • Down

    Over tired and lost, not accomplishing what I want, not accomplishing what I need. Difficulty thinking, planning, organizing. Over-extended, in work,…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic
    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.