How To Implement Getting Things Done: The System In Review

One common rant for all of us mortals is the inability to reach an ever-extending dream goal. One of the popular solutions, if you chose to embark on this adventure, is to implement the “Getting Things Done” course of action in your life. GTD or The 12 Week System is a solution to challenge yourself to achieve a limited number of targets in a limited amount of time. Then rinse and repeat the process till you can call yourself truly successful. This is the Getting Things Done Summary or the TL:DR version for a quick overlook.

The inspiration to dive into this field of study came from a course called The 90 Day Year Program created by Todd Herman. This course is painstakingly created based on his years of experience working with America’s top athletes. Researching a bit more, I landed on this book: The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran.

Before practically implementing the concept as described in the book, it is important to understand the content itself. Following is my take and notes on the system as described in the book.


What is the Getting Things Done (GTD) or The 12 Week Year System?


The 12 Week Year is an execution system, where you plan and work on that plan to eliminate the three big problems of annualized or long-term projects

  1. The “There’s plenty of time” Misconception.
    Every time you use these words, a lot of precious productive time has already gone out the window, but you start realizing it when there’s too little time left.
    The more time you have to complete your goal, the less predictability you have on your own situations and actions towards your goals.A 12 week project period enables you to define and control the actions you need to perform each week over the complete 12-week period, so that you have deeper insight on what you need to do and how to perform it.
  2. The “Too Many Bases To Conquer” Syndrome.
    You take too many objectives with the thought of having plenty of time to achieve everything on your list. Result: frustration, stress, burn out, and even abandoned projects.
    In this system, you “prioritize” the top 1 to 3 things that you want to achieve in that particular 12-week period. This gives you ultra focus on these targets. You are able to define them better, break them down into better logical action steps and tactics, and then execute the action plan better.The rest of your target lists can be taken care of in the next round(s).
  3. The “Catch Up Next Week/Month/Quarter” Crippler
    With the annualized thinking, the review or the reality check periods are far apart. Usually, quarterly review periods are taken over a period of a one year project.
    With the 12 week system, the reviews or the checks are on a Daily, Weekly, and then Monthly basis, requiring the least amount of time. This concept forces you to take action on a daily basis. Even if the action results in 1/10th of the planned, it’s still progress.


Let’s look at what this 12 Week System asks you to do in a TL;DR form or 

The Getting Things Done Summary


Step 1: Identify and Create a Vision. How do you want to seen as a successful person? How will your life be under ideal conditions? You are required to define Long Term Aspirations, followed by 3 year goals that will make your life ideal. The more specific you are, the more emotionally you will connect with it, and the higher your chances of success.


Step 2: Identify 1-3 goals, but with two conditions:

a.     They should contribute to achieving your 3 year goals

b.     They can be completed in the 12 Week Year.


Step 3: Break down each goal into executable AND measurable tactics and action steps, with deadlines for each step and tactic. These can be repetitive tasks or one-time actions.


Step 4: Schedule performance blocks of three types on a weekly basis.

  1. Strategic Blocks: 3-hour block of concentrated effort on the work directly impacting your goal for that 12 week period.
  2. Buffer Blocks: Hey! You need to check your emails and messages, too. Use these 30 to 60 minute-time blocks to do this work.
  3. Breakout Blocks: 3-hour blocks of a total break from work. You need to recharge your batteries, too.


Step 5: Review daily and weekly to score your actions against the action steps and tactic plan. The higher you score, the more successful you are. Review and re-plan your next week, if necessary.


Step 6: Be accountable for your plans. Whether you are doing this alone or in a team, the system gives great options to become accountable for your plans.


This is what the Getting Things Done system implementation looks like when done at a personal level. Though the GTD book goes much into the details of implementation at personal as well as working team level. 

The book itself is an easy read. It describes not only the complete system, end to end, for implementation, but also shares the changes you need to implement in your thought process for success.

The book describes all steps and processes for two situations: 

1.     When you are implementing the system for personal goals.

2.     When you want to implement the system in a team environment, like the office or your business.


A very important section of each chapter on implementation is the “Common Pitfalls and Success Tips.” Often, the failure of such a system is caused by very small, overlooked factors. This book does a great job of describing such factors and how you can avoid and overcome them.

 If you feel stuck moving towards your dream/life goals, try implementing this system. Even if only once and as an experiment. After all, practical implementation is always better than bookish knowledge for seeing the worth of anything good.

The first item in the order of things, according to the book, is to create a Vision Plan, if you don’t already have one. That’s what I am going to do in the next article. 

That is going to be my next step in bringing you value. Don’t keep good things to yourself. If you feel the article is beneficial and can help more people, then click any of the sharing buttons. Sharing is caring. Hit that share button.

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