GTD – Changing the World by Bringing Change from Within

A Community Contribution from Arif and Ali Vakil

Have you ever found yourself in the situation where you’re completely overwhelmed with all the work that surrounds you? At those times do you then you catch yourself complaining about the outside world “I wish my job wasn’t so demanding”, “I wish there wasn’t so much competition”, “I wish my team would just listen to me” etc. What can you do to get out of this mental trap?

Here’s the secret:  getting things working for you doesn’t start by changing the outside world at all, but by changing ourselves and how we perceive our work from within. To change the world or the people around us, we must change ourselves first and then the world around us will change too. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?  Nevertheless, if you have some faith you might be pleasantly surprised.

The next time you find yourself paralyzed by the amount of work on your plate and you catch yourself complaining about it, try out the GTD Mind Sweep exercise, followed by processing each item

Step 1: The Mind Sweep

The first step in the GTD Mastering Workflow cycle is Collect. Take 5 mins out, and capture everything that has your attention. Here are some guidelines:

* Go for quantity not quality

* Don’t analyze or organize

* Write everything

* Write fast

Step 2: Processing

Once you’ve an objective look of all the items in front of you. Process each item by asking:

1. What is the successful outcome?

2. What is the next physical action?

This is what the result might look like:

Item Collected Successful Outcome Next Action
Need to go to doctor for checkup Receive a report of my regular health checkup in my hand Call Doc to setup an appointment
Make a life plan Have a clear document outlining my life’s goals and how they can be acheived Draw a mindmap to brainstorm on ideas
Fix Printer Have a working Printer Email IT department

Taking these two steps will give you an immediate sense of relief & a feeling of lightness.

What changed?

Nothing from the outside changed, neither the boss, the competition or the clients. All that changed was the way we are now looking at our work and defining what we want and the next steps to take.

Before performing the 2 steps each item that had our attention was an agreement to complete something that  we made with ourselves. Since these agreements were not being managed it was a cause of stress to us.

By collecting what has our attention and defining what needs to be done with it, we begin the process of managing these agreements.  By identifying and clarifying each of the agreements that had our attention, we’ve taken them from being overwhelming and distracting  agreements in our head, and instead we’ve taken an objective look at them & decided  what  next action each required.

Change from within

One of the beautiful aspects of GTD is that it doesn’t look to solve the problem from the outside, but rather focuses on change from within and how we perceive our work.

We agree that there is just one world in which we live and die. Yet this one world is different for each one of us because of how we perceive it. Internally our pictures of the world are different even though externally it is just one world.  Thus if we change the way we perceive our work, the world outside changes for us.