Get busy living

Tonight I’m going to watch The Shawshank Redemption with my son for the first time. As usual, a tear or three will have fallen by the end because it reminds me so much of my own Dad – it was his favourite film – but it moves millions of others, too, with its powerful story of hope and friendship.

I always think of GTD – i.e. the Getting Things Done® methodology – when Tim Robbins delivers the movie’s most famous line, “Get busy living or get busy dying”. So many people today feel trapped by the pressures of work and life with little hope of escape, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

GTD can set you free without you having to crawl away from Shawshank prison through a half a mile of sewage pipe, and here are 5 reasons why…

1.     GTD frees you from the curse of email

You might often find yourself overly distracted by email and reacting to the latest and loudest things going on around you. While this gives a sense of ‘busyness’, deep down we often sense that it’s not always progress on meaningful things. GTD frees you from the grip of this constant distraction and replaces it with a measured approach to email that enables you to keep on top of it instead of being buried by it.

2.     GTD frees up your headspace

A lot of busy people feel they need more headspace to just sit and think. GTD helps you get that space by taking things that would otherwise constantly demand your attention and managing them outside your head. It’s a simple idea but it makes a massive difference. It works so well that you probably already do it in some parts of your life. You keep shopping lists outside your head, right? It’s because it frees you from the distraction of having to remember all that stuff until you’re in Tesco. Well, GTD extends this common sense right across the rest of your work and life, and the space it clears in your head is amazing.

3.     GTD helps you feel more focussed and in control

Once you’re feeling far less distracted by the constant effort to remember things in your head, you’ll have a better ability to focus on the big things that make a difference. You’ll also start to feel more in control and less like you’ve got to stay crazy busy from dusk til dawn just to make sure everything’s on track.

4.     GTD make you feel more positive

With less distraction, more headspace and a greater sense of focus and control, you’ll start to feel more positive. This comes from knowing you’re making meaningful progress on meaningful things, rather than just being busy with what’s in front of you. As you start to master GTD you’ll develop a confidence that you’re working on the right things and moving them forward at all times.

5.     GTD enhances your reputation

As you implement GTD, not only will you feel different, but others will start to feel differently about you. They’ll see that you respond to email meaningfully rather than just instantly. They’ll know that you don’t drop the ball. They’ll see that you follow up and do what you say you’re going to do. They’ll see you make progress without panic. Basically, they’ll start to see someone different and that difference will be GTD.

GTD is an integrated set of simple practices that you can start using with your existing tools now. You’ll get immediate relief with things like email and eventually, as you become more fluent, you’ll do it without thinking and feel transformation elsewhere, too.

GTD isn’t easy or instant, but the return on investment can be HUGE, and it doesn’t just give you a more effective way of working, it can help you have a better quality of life.


If you’re already a practitioner of GTD you’ll know what a game changer it can be so tell your friends. Word-of-mouth is what took The Shawshank Redemption from being a box-office sleeper to being one of the most popular films of all time.

If you’re new to GTD, get in touch for a chat about getting started. It really can set you free.