Agile Results vs GTD

Agile Results are all about 2 things; Being flexible and being focused on results!  Life is always changing and you need to change along with it.  I have always recommended Getting Things Done (GTD for short) but now I am following agile results.  What are the differences between Agile Results vs GTD?  Read on and I will tell you.

Both methods are designed to make you more productive and help you get things done.  Both methods work!  The GTD method will mostly focus on organizing your tasks into lists where the Agile Results method will question if your tasks will help you achieve your goals.  If they are not the best use of your time to achieve your goals, they are discarded.

As you can see, there is a bit of overlap in the 2 methods but I feel you need to do both in order to be successful.  You need to do Agile Results first, then create a task list, organize that list with GTD, work your tasks, improve, and repeat.  Pretty Simple!

An agile life is one that can easily respond to change and if you understand anything about the world around us, you know change is everywhere and over whelming most of the time.  Incorporating agile results into your life will give you the ability to not only survive in this increasingly changing world but to thrive in it as well.

What are Agile Results

Agile Results is a way to be more productive by focusing you on the results you want and the steps you need to get there.  It is a system designed by a Microsoft employee names J. D. Meier.  He wrote a book on the topic called “Getting Results the Agile Way”.

A one line summary of the method is this.  What you do is not as important as what you accomplish, therefore all your effort should be focused on achieving results that move you towards your goals.

Think of agile results is the collection of a lot of smaller goals that lead you in a direction you want to move.  It removes the unimportant and only focused you on tasks that will make a difference.  For anyone who has read Tim Ferris’s book, “The 4 Hour Workweek” will know exact what I am talking about.  Think of this is the user manual to Tim’s book about how to achieve “The 4 hour Workweek”.

What is GTD?

Getting Things Done (GTD for short) is a system of managing your tasks and to do items.  It’s goal is to write things down in a special way to keep you focused on your current tasks.  Getting Things Done is a book written by David Allen in 2001 and later revised to incorporate more modern thinking and technology.

I’ve been using the GTD method for over a year and love it.  I also changed it a little to incorporate other improvements to make it work better for me.

For example, I adopted Warren Buffets 5/25 rule with GTD to align it better with my goals. 

What is the Warren Buffet 5/25 Rule?

Little did I know, the agile results method incorporates the Buffet 5/25 rule in it natively.  It also includes several other ideas to greatly improves our ability to achieve our goals faster and easier.

Since GTD was published by David Allen in 2001 and doesn’t incorporate technology well into the process (he tried to in his revised version).  Many people (including myself) have adapted his ideas into our technology tools with good success but it always lacked something. 

The Agile Results process fills the gaps very nicely but know that agile results is not a task management system like GTD, it is a process for learning what tasks are valuable to your goals.

For example, GTD talks about how to accomplish more.  The Agile process talks about why you are going something and will that task help you achieve your goals.  If not, how can you improve your task to achieve your goal! 

This alone will instantly improve your success in achieving your professional and personal goals.

Differences between Agile Results vs GTD

GTD is really about the day-to-day grind and crunching of tasks and inbox items. Agile Results is about setting clear outcomes that you want and then systematically working towards them.

In the GTD process, you are focused on doing tasks.  There is little thought built in the process to evaluate whether your tasks are going to achieve results that will move you towards your goals.  This is one of its biggest flaws.

One thing that GTD has that agile results doesn’t is the concept of clearing your mind so you can focus on deep work.  I love the idea of doing a brain dump into OneNote so I can focus on a topic at hand.  The problem is often the brain dump is distracting if you mix it into your weekly or monthly goals.

You do not have to react to every thought or idea you have.  Your ideas need to support your yearly and lifetime goals and if they do not, then need to stay off your todo task lists.  This is one of my biggest challenges.  I find it hard to have a list of ideas and tasks that I don’t work because they do not support my immediate  goals.

Agile Results know you will always have way more to do then you can possibly do and it focuses you to

Agile Results vs GTD

Agile Results GTD
Bias for Action Bias for Action
energy management Time management
All about results All about productivity
Very Flexible Very organized
outcomes focused inbox focused
Tasks Support Goals Brain Dump Tasks
Short-term tasks tied to Long-term goals Short Term Tasks

Agile Results Rule of 3

The Rule of 3 is a productivity technique that focuses on achieving three meaningful outcomes every day, week, month, and year.

The main difference with the agile results vs GTD is somewhat related to this rule.  In GTD, you have a list of tasks you need to do but you have no idea if those tasks are going to help you achieve your goals.  With agile results, you make sure your tasks are related and support your goals or you don’t do them.

Agile Results Rule of 3

  • Every day you identify three outcomes you want to accomplish that day.
  • Weekly you identify three outcomes you want to accomplish for the week.
  • Monthly you identify three outcomes you want to accomplish for the month.
  • Yearly you identify three outcomes you want to accomplish for the year.

The purpose is to track every action to a goal and make sure you are always reviewing, improving, and adjusting to meet your goals. 


One interesting thing to realize is often, results are not in your control.  Both GTD and agile results realize this which is why they teach us to focus on what we can control through the tasks we perform everyday.  If we focus on doing the right tasks, the right results will often follow.

The most important difference to me is the application of tasks that will move you closer to your short and long term goals.  GTD was just a way to organize and get through tasks but it didn’t incorporate connecting those tasks to your personal and professional goals.  Agile results does this and incorporates a constant improvement to your goals and methods to make sure you are moving in the right direction.

Most people fail to start because they are never convinced that the direction is the right one so they over analyze and get stuck.  With agile results, you start now and constantly review your direction and adjust your direction along the way.  This is perfect for me as I tend to over analyze and get stuck a lot.  Now I don’t!

If this has helped you to learn the differences between Agile Results vs GTD, let me know in the comment section below and consider signing up for the email list.  If you follow both agile results and GTD, you too can dramatically improve your productivity and success in achieving your goals.  Just one step at a time and the time to start is now.