ADHD and Getting Things Done: Is It a Match?


ADHD and Geeting Done by David Allen


"Marla, what do you think of David Allen’s Getting Things Done?"  

I’ve been getting this question enough lately from my clients that I thought I would answer it here, as you might also be curious about GTD.

I like GTD, and think the concepts could be very useful. But would they be useful for adults with ADHD?


As I was rereading the introduction to GTD, I came across the following that gave me reason to pause.

…everything I propose is easy to do. It involves no new skills at all. You already know how to focus, how write things down, how to decide on outcomes and actions, and how to review options and make choices.

Hmm… What if this is not true for you?

In fact, for many adults with ADHD, these executive functioning skills are a challenge.

Will GTD Work For Me?

In spite of these challenges I do think that there are parts of the process that can be useful. Before diving in, though, I would suggest asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I comfortable with the level of my executive functioning skills?  If not, do I need support in improving these in order to effectively use the GTD system?
  2. Am I ready to make the time and space necessary to implement this system?
  3. If I decide not to implement the whole system, do I want to adapt some of the ideas in a way that will work for me right now? 

It can be really tempting to jump on the band wagon, and assume that such a highly respected and renown system such as GTD would work for you. After all it works for a lot of people.

Take your time when deciding. Think about how you operate and whether the system would work for you. Then you can decide if and/or how to use it.

In the previous post  I wrote about the first step in GTD system.


Photo Credit:Some rights reserved by tsmall


  1. Marla says

    Below is a comment I received from one of my newsletter subscribers:

    "Thank you for your comments on "GTD". The system's assumptions sure seem to be questionable for the ADHD brain. I had purchased the book and associated material before we started coaching, and had not made any headway."

  2. Lisa Peake says

    Hi Marla,
    I'm a productivity coach with a background in GTD. I've seen various clients where implementing the entire GTD system just isn't a fit for their personality type.
    I really like your questions in helping someone identify if GTD can work for them. GTD is a big commitment, despite David Allen's little note of encouragement that you "already know how to do this".
    People with and without ADHD should look at whether they are ready to invest in a new system, before diving into a major overhaul that could become a source of discouragement if it doesn't stick. I'd rather have my clients succeed with one tiny improvement, then on to the next. I'm guessing you're in the same boat.

    • says

      Hi Lisa, Thanks for sharing your insight, and I'm glad that you found my questions useful. I agree that doing too much at once can be a great source of discourgagement.

    • says

      It is a great system. And glad you found one that works well for you! If you care to share more about how it helps you, that would be great. Marla