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The Getting Things Done (GTD) technique was first described by David Allen in his homonymous book almost 20 years ago. It has been applied and explained over the years and there is plenty of free and paid resources to take full advantage of it. However, it is mostly used in the corporate world, so we are explaining Getting Things Done (GTD) for students.

Basically, there are 5 steps: Capture, Clarify, Organize, Reflect, and Engage. Each one has to be done in order to fully benefit from this technique. Let’s explain them briefly:


Create a unique list or inbox of everything that needs your attention.


Classify the items on the list, understanding what each task means and stating a goal for those that have to be done, trash those that do not deserve further consideration, or set those that need further information on hold.


Define when to do those items that need your attention. Basically, schedule them on a calendar.


Review your progress as you move forward.


Trust the system and focus on the task on hand leaving distractions out.

How all this applies to you as a student?

Obviously, you need to know all you want to do, capture is just about having a system that allows you to have everything in one place. There are no groundbreaking ideas here.

The clarify step is the most complex of the GTD process as there are several questions that help to set each task in the proper category. However, for a student, this is not that relevant unless you are planning to drop a class or considering the bare minimum to “survive this semester”. With the rest of the issues in your life, there is a lot of value here, but for study usually, all tasks fit into 2 or 3 buckets and all have to be accomplished in some way. Delegating, which is a great skill in work life, would be considered cheating as a student. All you need to do is to know what is expected from each task and clearly define a goal for you.

Organize is a critical step here. The tools are useful when there are several buckets and a few items in each. Not so easy when everything fits into 2 categories and priorities are complex to balance.

“Whatever is not measured does not exists” used to say a teacher of mine. While we can debate a lot on this statement, there is undeniably some truth to it. If you do not track the progress and compare it with the target, there are great chances to miss the shot. Accountability is what reflect is all about. It takes time but is an investment you will not regret.

There is no substitute for effort. Despite the good planning you still need to engage to reach your goals. With focused study and metered progress deadlines will come and you will be able to meet them, otherwise, failure will become a real possibility.

Studeam is an alternative that speeds the process for you.

With Studeam, on a single step, you can list all your tasks, define them properly, and set the goals both in terms of outcomes and the amount of time you consider adequate to accomplish them.

The organization is done for you by just pressing a button.

As you engage with what you have planned you can track your accomplishments and improve your first estimates on time. In case there is a need to reorganize just click the button again and you can focus only on the learning process instead of spending time with complex calculations and considerations to define how to manage your time.

I hope that this post has helped you to understand how to apply Getting Things Done (GDT) for students. You can find more time management techniques here.