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Unlock Epic Productivity: The GTD Framework for Developers!

Hey there! Do you like making things with computers? If you do, you know it can get hectic.

There’s so much to do! But don’t worry. There’s a cool framework called the GTD Framework. GTD stands for “Getting Things Done.” It helps people do their work without feeling too tired or mixed up.

The GTD Framework is like a magic recipe for people who make software or apps.

It helps them organise their tasks, like sorting their toys after playtime. This way, they can do their jobs better and faster without forgetting anything important.

Imagine you have a big box of Legos. Without a plan, it’s hard to know where to start building.

GTD is like having a plan for your Lego project. It tells you which pieces to pick first and how to put them together one by one. In the end, you create something awesome!

So, we’re going to talk about how developers, or people who make software, can use GTD.

It’s going to help them be superheroes at their work. They’ll finish tasks, make cool things, and still have time to play! Are you ready to learn how?

Let’s get started with using the GTD framework for developers!

Understanding GTD: The Foundations

Imagine you’re a builder, and you want to make the most amazing playhouse ever.

To do that, you need some rules to help you.

The GTD Framework is like those rules but for people who make games and websites on computers.

1. Catch all your ideas

First, think of your brain like a butterfly net.

Every time you have an idea or something you need to do, you catch it with your net. You put these ideas somewhere safe, like in a notebook or a computer app. This way, you won’t forget them!

2. Make your ideas clear

Now, you have a lot of ideas and things to do.

Look at each one and think, “What is this about? Do I need to do something with it?” It’s like looking at your toys and deciding which ones you want to play with now and which ones can wait.

3. Organize everything: 

After you know which toys (or ideas) you want to play with, you sort them.

Some might be for making things, some for learning, and others just for fun. By putting your ideas into groups, you know where everything is!

4. Look at your plan often: 

Every few days, you check your toys and ideas again.

Maybe you want to play with something else or you finished with a toy and can put it away. This is checking to see how you’re doing.

5. Start playing (or doing): 

Now, you choose what to play with (or do) first.

You know what you need to do, and you start having fun making it happen!

The GTD Framework helps people who make games and websites be the best builders.

It makes sure they have fun but also get their work done, just like planning the best way to build a cool playhouse!

Why Developers Need GTD

Think about when you’re playing with your friends, and everyone wants to play a different game.

It can get confusing, right? Developers, or the people who make your favourite games and websites, feel like that sometimes. They have so many tasks and ideas every day, that it can be hard to keep everything straight.

1. Too Many Ideas: Developers have a lot of cool ideas, just like when you have lots of fun game ideas. But if they don’t keep track of them, they might forget!

2. Mixing Things Up: Imagine if you tried to play soccer, tag, and hide-and-seek all at the same time. You’d get all mixed up! Developers can feel that way too when they switch between different tasks without a plan.

3. Feeling Too Tired: Sometimes, when you play all day, you get really tired. Developers can get tired too if they work too much without taking breaks or having fun.

That’s why developers need GTD!

It’s like having a magic notebook that helps keep all their game ideas safe, tells them what game to play next, and ensures they still have fun.

With GTD, developers can make even cooler games and websites without getting confused or too tired. It’s like having a superpower for making things on the computer!

Implementing GTD in Your Development Workflow

At its core. The GTD framework is made up of 5 distinct actions. These are Capture, Clarify, Organise, Reflect and finally Engage.

Now, let’s learn how to use our GTD superpower to make creating things on computers even more fun.

Imagine you’re making a giant puzzle of your favourite superhero. We’ll use GTD steps to make sure you can see your superhero without getting frustrated or lost.

1. Catch your ideas (Capture): 

First, whenever you think, “Oh! This would be a cool thing to add to my game or website,” you write it down or type it into a computer. It’s like keeping all your puzzle pieces in a box so you don’t lose any.

2. Understand your ideas (Clarify): 

Look at each idea and ask, “What do I need to do to make this happen?” It’s like looking at each puzzle piece and understanding where it needs to go in your superhero puzzle.

3. Sort your ideas (Organize): 

Now, put your ideas into groups. Some ideas might be big, like choosing the puzzle’s edges first, and some are small, like finding where the eye of your superhero is supposed to go. You decide which ideas you want to work on now and which ones can wait.

4. Remember to look at your plan (Reflect): 

Every few days, check your ideas box. Maybe you have new ideas, or maybe you’ve finished some tasks. It’s like seeing which parts of your puzzle are done and what you want to work on next.

5. Do the fun work (Engage): 

Pick an idea and start working on it. With everything organized, you know exactly what to do next. It’s like picking the next puzzle piece you’re sure about and snapping it into place.

By following these steps, developers can get all their work done without feeling overwhelmed.

They can make cool games and websites and still have time to play and relax. It’s like finishing your superhero puzzle and feeling proud of the amazing job you did!

Case Study: GTD in Action

It’s all well and good to tell you how awesome it is.

But how can you use the GTD framework for developers?

I’ve been coding “professionally” since 2007. Becoming obsessed with productivity in 2010. Which led me to find the GTD framework in 2015/2016. Since then, been tweaking my toolkit, and in 2020, I think I nailed it.

So how do I use it?

Well, I’ll show you.

Capture Stage

For me, this has always been the most difficult stage.

From screenshots, voice notes, and saving links to god knows where.

This is where Notion is so powerful.

No matter, where you are, on your phone or your computer. You can save almost anything to Notion to capture whatever you need. The main idea is to get it out of your head, for future review

In Notion, I’ve labelled this as the “INBOX”. Here’s what it currently looks like

Getting more productive starts by getting things out of your head

You’ll notice I have a GTD area in Notion. With my INBOX being top of the list.

I go through the inbox once a week, sometimes longer. This forms part of my clarify stage which I will talk about next.

Clarify Stage

When I’m going through my INBOX. The goal is to move the Notion page to another area inside my Notion GTD framework. Or if it needs discarding then I can delete the page altogether.

I currently have 4 sections that I will move the page to.

As it’s already in Notion, it’s easy to move and expand the information as needed.

Here are the 4 sections

GTD Framework for developers In Action. Output from the Clarify stage


I’ll come onto this in a second. But this, tied with the PROJECTS / BUSINESSES and SYSTEMS / PROCESSES makes up my engage stage.


If I’ve found something interesting. Or, let’s say I’ve started an online course. I put this into this area in my Notion GTD Framework.

I tag it as an article, course, book, or whatever media I need. As well as giving it a title, and saving the link. And use the page as a way to give context. As well as taking down any notes or ideas that I need.


Similar to the previous section. It’s a way for me to store information that I can easily retrieve when needed.

Let’s say I’ve read a great article on Medium. About a new coding framework that I may be interested in using in a future project. I can save all the details here.


The INBOX is a great way to get ideas out of your head.

For me, these are mainly business ideas or projects that I don’t want to forget. But put it on the back burner.

They aren’t urgent. But I don’t want to forget about them either. This section is a great way to declutter your mind and get all those things floating around your head out of there.

Engage Stage

This is the most important stage in my eyes.

The stage where you “Get Things Done”

As part of my engagement process, I’ve two additional sections on top of my TO-DO / ACTIONS section.

First, I have a PROJECTS / BUSINESSES section which I can link to any page in my TO-DO section so I know what the task relates to. It also allows me to store key information, or anything for that matter to a project. Giving me a single place to put everything. Notion is also a powerful document and information store, on top of everything else.

Next, you will see a SYSTEMS / PROCESSES section. This is where I document how to do something. Or save a video or video link as a walkthrough to do a task.

These come in handy if I want to delegate a task. I can share the relevant Notion page with the person doing the task. So they have a reference. And in the case of some tasks, watch me doing a job, step by step.


Once a task goes from the INBOX into the TO-DO section. Some additional information is added. Which is part of my clarify stage.

Make sure you're on top of your productivity by managed your to-do list

I give it a priority. Link it to a project. I also mark what sort of activity it is. For me, this could be marketing, coding, content or production creation. You can make this list as long or as short as you need to.

Next, I mark it as How. Which means how the task gets done. For me, I have a “Do” option, which means I need to get it done. “Automate”, where I implement a way for that task to get done automatically whenever needed. Lastly, I have an “Outsource” option where I hire someone to do things for me.

Coming from a software development background, I love the Kanban style of managing how things get done.

Using KANBAN Boards

My “To-Do” section and the “Automate / Hire / Outsource” section of this GTD stage uses Kanban boards

 GTD Framework for Developers. Maximize your Productivity by using a Kanban board

I sort the board using the priority of each task. And I have 5 sections to move a task through. TODO, In Progress, Testing, Done and Released Live (only applies to my software projects).

There’s no better feeling than moving a task through the stage.

As each task is still the original Notion page I created in my INBOX. The extra details are recorded in the Clarify step. I’ve got all the information I need to complete the task.

I know easier said than done.

But, this is how you can implement the GTD framework for developers.

Oh, if you like the look of my GTD framework and already use Notion. I’ve packaged up my GTD process into a Notion template that you can use straight away. Check it out here: GTD Notion Template

Overcoming Common GTD Challenges for Developers

Imagine you’re on a treasure hunt. You have a map (the GTD method), but sometimes finding the treasure (doing your tasks) can be tricky. Let’s look at how to beat some challenges that might pop up.

1. Remembering to Write Things Down: Sometimes, it’s hard to remember to capture every cool idea or task. It’s like forgetting to mark where you found a clue on your treasure map. A good trick is to keep your notebook or computer close, like your treasure map, so you can jot down ideas whenever they pop up.

2. Knowing What to Do With an Idea: After capturing your ideas, you might not know what to do with them. It’s like finding a clue on the map but not knowing where it leads. Ask yourself, “What’s my next step to get closer to the treasure?” This helps you figure out what to do with your idea.

3. Getting Bored or Tired: Sometimes, looking for treasure (or doing our tasks) can make us tired or bored. It’s important to take short breaks, like a pirate resting on their journey, to play or relax. This way, you come back feeling ready and excited to find more treasure.

By using these tricks, you can be like a brave pirate on a treasure hunt, overcoming challenges with your map (GTD) and getting closer to finding your treasure (completing your tasks). Happy hunting!

Conclusion: GTD Framework For Developers

You made it to the end, just like finishing a big, exciting book! We talked about a super cool helper for people who make games and websites. It’s called GTD, and it’s like a treasure map for your ideas.

Remember the Big Ideas:

  • GTD helps us keep our ideas safe and know what to work on next, like following a map to treasure.
  • It makes sure we can do fun work and not get lost or too tired.
  • And if it gets hard, we can overcome challenges by remembering to write down our ideas, figuring out what our next steps are, and taking breaks to play.

What to Do Now:

  • If you make things on computers, try using GTD like a treasure map for your projects.
  • Pick a small task you want to do, like drawing a picture or writing a story, and use the GTD steps to help you.
  • Talk to your friends, teachers, or family about GTD. Maybe it can help them find their treasure, too!

The most important thing is to keep exploring, creating, and having fun. Just like pirates on a quest for treasure, you have your adventures waiting. With GTD, you’re ready to sail the seas, face challenges, and find your treasures. What’s your next adventure going to be?

Oh, if you want to get up and running with the GTD framework as a developer. Grab a copy of my GTD structure that I ran through in the case study. You can find it here: GTD Notion Template

Wait, want more tips & tricks? Yes, please!

Who Is Phil Hughes

I am a coder, content creator & software consultant for start-ups and FTSE 100 companies. I am obsessed with productivity, self-improvement, and building a lifestyle business.
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