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GTD Mastery 100: Step 1

To read my complete journey to GTD Mastery see the main post.

Step 1 to GTD Mastery is: I have read Getting Things Done from front to back.

Duff, creator of the GTD Mastery 100, placed this as the first step. I believe that actually reading GTD is essential to attain a complete implementation.

I first read GTD during my high school summer break in 2005. The book created a dramatic shift in the way I thought about and defined working. Today, I can’t remember much of my pre-GTD days. I can’t recall what I did in terms of time management because I didn’t actually have a system. What I can remember was academics being much more of a struggle in my first two years of high school than the following years.

For those first two years, I was a fairly average student. My parents always instilled in me the importance of education so I studied hard, but didn’t study smart. As a result, I would just squeak into a spot on the honour roll. I specifically remember last-minute essays, unproductive group meetings, and a lack of extracurriculars. I was disenchanted with the concept of all work and no play. I dedicated that summer to finding a solution.


It didn’t take long. A quick search on time management brought up Wikipedia’s article on the subject. As I read the article there was a profound statement by David Allen:

You can’t manage time, it just is. So “time management” is a mislabeled problem, which has little chance of being an effective approach. What you really manage is your activity during time, and defining outcomes and physical actions required is the core process required to manage what you do.

It was after picking up GTD that I actually began to enjoy academic life. The predominant result was better grades (much to the pleasure of my parents), but I wasn’t actually studying any harder (they didn’t need to know). In fact, I found myself doing less work. My classmates were still stuck in the cycle and I felt guilty when they would exclaim their frustrations (which I used to echo). I now have big plans for dealing with that guilt, the topic of a future post.

With a self-generated decreasing workload, I put the free time to good use joining the tennis and volleyball teams. I also took on a co-head coach position for both the girls volleyball and softball teams. This was definitely the most rewarding aspect of my high school years. Athletics to this day is a large influence on my life and it was amazing being able to give back to something that has given me so much.

GTD gave me the time to give and that is just as important as a mind like water.

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Related posts:

  1. GTD Mastery 100 Series
  2. Top 4 Reasons People’s Study Management Systems Fail
  3. 7 Web Apps of Highly Effective Students

3 Responses to “GTD Mastery 100: Step 1”

  1. Gyanish says:

    Hello Chris. I just have a simple request for you. Can you please explain in practical steps how you implemented GTD in your study life and how this has brought a change for the better in your academic results.


  2. Chris Y. says:

    I don’t know if you’ve read it yet, but my post on weekly assignments encompasses how I use GTD for organzing my study life.

    The academic results are those outlined in this post. I was also the recipient of a special entrance scholarship (top 1-2%) for my program.

    I’m sorry if that didn’t help much. I’d be glad to discuss any further questions via e-mail: cyeung [{at}]

    I checked out your blog link. +1 to my blogroll because I definitely don’t have the best diet =P

  3. Gyanish says:

    Thanks a lot for this response! :)