Building a GTD system that I could trust to catch all my “stuff” was one of the more daunting barriers to adopting it as part of my day-to-day workflow. Rather than investigating every possible tool myself (and there are hundreds) I relied on those people who already had a system and wanted to share their thoughts about specific tools. I would definitely encourage anyone wanting to get into GTD to spend some time extensively reviewing the books, podcasts and blogs that cover the GTD world before adopting your own system.

The Book

David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity has to be your starting place. It’s available on all major platforms. I read it on my iPad so I could add notes and highlight as I went. I wouldn’t say it’s an “easy” read. Even though the language is written for anyone it takes a decent level of focus and concentration to connect how the principles in the book can be applied to your circumstances. I read the whole book cover to cover before implementing anything. I was tempted to start getting everything out of my head after reading Chapter 5 but I decided that I wanted to grasp the entire concept of what I was getting into before starting out.

Pro Tips:

  • Read it twice. Once at the outset and then again once you’ve implemented and actually used the system for a bit.
  • David Allen’s company has many good podcasts that cover the topics of the book and beyond. It’s a good reinforcement tool.


Speaking of podcasts, I’ve found many regular programs that, while not specifically about GTD, contain awesome snippets that have added value and improvements to my system (in this post I’ll cover only two.) If you’re not into podcasts then you’re missing out on some great advice and information from some smart, prolific and often hilarious people. If you have an iOS device you can grab the Apple Podcasts app from the App Store and start subscribing or you can visit iTunes on your Mac or PC. If you get hooked like I did then I recommend spending a little money on Instacast for iOS and now Mac – Instacast

A quick note about Merlin Mann: The first time I heard about GTD was while listening to Back to Work (B2W) Ep. 81 in August of 2012 (the first episode I ever heard). I had just begun to listen to podcasts and for the most part I dismissed GTD as self-help junk. I did, however, enjoy listening to Merlin and Dan (mostly Merlin) talk about a wide range of topics on B2W and soon I was exploring some back story on Merlin’s now static but still useful blog 43 Folders. Along with Merlin’s writing on the topic the GTD system really grabbed my attention after listening to episodes 95-99 (and bit of 100). I had recently decided to stop all of my freelance jobs (more on that here) and listening to these episodes of B2W, which were specifically about David Allen’s GTD book, gave me hope and inspiration that I could learn to manage multiple projects, environments and people in a manner that didn’t lead to mental bankruptcy. I think it’s important to state that the only reason I decided to try and eventually adopt GTD as a personal productivity system was Merlin Mann’s belief and passion in it as a way to become a better worker, thinker and person. Thank you, Merlin.

  • Back to Work – Host(s): Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.

    Every episode is great and if you have time start at Episode 1 and run through them all. Other than the episodes I mentioned in the previous paragraph go listen to episodes 7, 20, 113 and especially 120.</p>

  • Generational – Host(s): Gabe Weatherhead (and now Erik Hess)

    Gabe’s series on task management is superb (episodes 17,19,22.) It helped me get a grasp on the vast range of tools out there. Also, I thoroughly agree with Gabe’s premise that while GTD as a system is a great foundation for anyone wanting to work better it almost certainly needs to be customized to the individual using it.</p>

There are many other GTD slanted podcasts. I have sampled most of them but the B2W and Generational episodes I have mentioned above have proved to be the most informative and instructional for me while I was defining my own system. If you’re interested in my complete list of GTD related resources then jump over to runx GTD Resources or check out a full list of the podcasts that I listen to


Like with Podcasts there are dozens of productivity or GTD blogs. While many are fantastic reads you can get everything you need from 43 Folders. Merlin’s about page on 43folders is a great starting place and his Getting started with “Getting Things Done” post (from 2004) sold me on buying the book.

Here’s a ton of other blogs that I read almost daily some of which relate to GTD and productivity.