My thoughts on GTD and Scrum

What is GTD?
GTD (Getting Things Done), is a methodology that assist individuals with gaining control and perspective over all activities they would like to accomplish. If this is the first time you read about GTD, you can read some of my other blogs on the subject (starting with this one), or simply google “GTD” or “Getting Things Done”. You will find a lot of information about it.
The official website for GTD is


What is Scrum?
Wikipedia defines scrum as follows: “Scrum is an iterative and incremental agile software development framework for managing product development.” (click here to read the full article).
It is outside of the scope of this blog to cover the SCRUM process, but as with GTD, googling about it will provide you with plenty of information.




How do Scrum and GTD relate?
Lets take a closer look at the GTD building blocks, and explore their connection to the scrum workflow:
  • Collect – This is where you build your backlog. At this point you act as the product owner. You build the backlog by either visualizing where you want to take the product (you and the things you are responsible for), as well as anything that require you to respond to external forces (the people around you, and the environment).
  • Process – Think of this as the product backlog grooming session (it happens almost on a daily basis though), you identify what needs to get done for everything on your unprocessed backlog (the inbox), check feasibility and try to assess effort (size). For this step you act as the scrum master, facilitating the “meeting”, the development team (defining the next step, and do some planning of what needs to get done), and the product owner (clarifying to yourself what the requirements are, what success would look like, and define the acceptance criteria).
  • Organize – Think of this as planning your releases. You act as the product owner. Based on what you discovered while processing (the backlog grooming stage), you identify the priority of the items (based on your personal values, the next steps involved and when things need to get done by). You add due dates if required, add events to your calendar, build projects (epics), and you define the context that is required to perform the work. In general you tentatively plan when the work will get done, or when you need to be reminded about it.
  • Review – This step is a combination of the sprint retrospective and sprint planning. You act as all hats at once. start with looking back at last week, record things to learn, and how to improve your processes based on any mistakes you made during the week (the equivalent of refining the definition of “done”), record any information you forgot to add to your inbox (refine product backlog), as well as you plan forward, look at the events that are coming at you (by looking two weeks ahead in your calendar and due dates on tasks), and plan what things you would like to give priorities to  (tentatively commit yourself to work to get done this coming week). At the same time you do “house cleaning”, anything that does not make sense anymore, completed but not marked as such, missing project information , etc. It is like a big reset before you begin your next “sprint” (next week).
  • Do – At this stage you are the development team, you take things off the backlog either from this “sprint”, or even the “product backlog”, and you complete them.

The way I think of it, GTD is the equivalent of implementing a scrum process that is time boxed to sprints of one week. I’ve been practicing GTD for quite a few years, but I only started to dive into Agile and Scrum very recently (a few months ago). The analogy between the two systems occurred to me when I first started to look at Scrum.

I welcome feedback from anyone who reads this blog, good, bad, or any insights into this topic.

Please note: I am not licensed, certified, approved, or endorsed by or otherwise affiliated with David Allen or the David Allen Company which is the creator of the Getting Things Done® system for personal productivity. GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. For more information on the David Allen Company’s products, please visit their website: