How do you Get Things Done?

I recently read Scott Elias’ page GTD in Education, where he demonstrates how he Gets Things Done, based on David Allen’s action management method called Getting Things Done (GTD).

I do not have an explicit system for getting things done, and I think I am cheating myself because of it. On top of teaching and program planning this year, I will be starting a PhD in educational technology in January. All very exciting, but I will need to develop a method for GTD in order to stay sane.

How do YOU get things done?


  • Tracy Rosen says:

    Thanks for the reference, Elona. I hadn’t heard of that one before. It looks a lot like Inspiration, a program I used to use at my last school. I’m going to look into it.

  • elona says:

    There’s a program that I use to organize my thinking-writing whatever. It’s called Smart Ideas. My school Board has made it available to all teachers and students in the District. I like it cause you can add all kinds of sound, websites etc. I have used it to present lessons to my kids. I find that they focus better when I present things using Smart ideas or Power Point. I have to keep things moving with my kids or I loose them so I break up my lesson into little visual presentation bites-You know something like sound bites. I have fun putting notes and questions on the brightest background colours possible- lime green, orange etc. It grosses the kids out at first, but then they love it because it’s so weird. What can I say except whatever works! I have to amuse myself as well. The students can’t have all the fun!

  • Tracy Rosen says:

    @ Scott – I’ve been thinking the same…no kids for me but it is my first year at a new school, starting a new program there. I’m planning to focus my studies around the design of the new program at the high school – hopefully my glasses aren’t toooooooooo rose-coloured as I’m hoping things will blend together nicely! Thanks for the link to diyplanner – lots of great stuff!

    @ Steve Yes – something like inspiration will definitely help me! Don’t think it is available for linux yet, though, which is what I use from home. There are a few online organizers I have been playing with – I*’ll need to find something that suits me because I am definitely a visual learner as well.
    I haven’t used Inspiration in about 6 months or so…I wonder if it is possible to add sound files? I have also recently discovered that talking things out helps me to process info as well, could be neat to embed some of that in the mind map.

  • Steve Ransom says:

    I can sympathize, as I did the same crazy thing that you are contemplating. I agree with Jason’s comments, as there is such high degree of ABDs out there due to the lack of what he suggests. And, for a time period, usually around comps and dissertation defense, nothing else exists in the universe. Oh… and I used Inspiration a lot. I, too, am a visual learner and the ability to add “notes” to idea nodes and continually update the mind map was very valuable to me. I actually planned my whole dissertation using that software. I had a poster-sized Inspiration map on my wall in my office that stared me in the face all day long!

  • selias22 says:

    Hmmm – another lunatic getting a Ph.D! I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into with a new school, two young kiddos, and a Ph.D. program…

    It’ll be an adventure, no doubt!!

    Oh – and have you checked out One of my favorite haunts for paper-related goodness.

  • Tracy Rosen says:

    Thanks for the tip, Scott. I am also finding that not everything can be digital. In fact, I’ve gone back to the old planning book – thick and coiled as it is – for my lesson plans. Something about the physical act of writing helps make things ‘stick’ for me – must be somewhat of a tactile learner ;)

    And Dennis – I think a more correct description may be insane…

  • How do I get things done?

    I don’t take on PhD’s alongside everything else! You are amazing! Best of luck with it.

    Me, just trying to stay afloat…

  • selias22 says:

    Thanks for the link, Tracy. And thanks for reading. Once again, my GTD page needs a little updating…

    Yesterday I started messing with the public beta of OmniFocus which is a Mac-only productivity app that works in concert with the GTD system. I’m more paper than digital these days, but I’m going to give it a try for a while and see how it goes.

    If you haven’t already done so, you need to zip over to and request a catalog. As much as I love technology toys, gadgets, and all things electronic, there is much to be said for a paper system!!


  • Tracy Rosen says:

    Hi Jason and thanks for your well wishes!
    I do my best work in the morning and it will be a challenge to balance my class planning and prep with my own coursework – especially considering that I already leave my house at 6:30am!
    But I know you are right – the key will be in setting my routine and sticking to it.

    I’m enjoying reading through your work – I’ve blogrolled you so I will definitely be back to read more!

  • Jason says:


    Congrats on your plan to begin your PhD. I myself am at the tail end of my PhD program and I’ve found that the most effective strategy I’ve found to getting things done is to set a routine and stick to it. I’ve personally found it helpful to go to be earlier so that I can get up earlier and spend a couple of hours each morning working on my coursework prior to heading to work. This way, no matter how busy my day at work is, I’m assured of making progress on my coursework.

    Whatever nifty techniques or aides you employ, make your coursework a priority, set a routine, and stick to it. Good luck as you commence your PhD journey.

    ~ Jason

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