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  • Shifting into GTD with a new teenager

    Hi everybody!

    I'm a longtime GTD adherent (since 2005). I love it. My piece of advice is that GTD is like any relationship. There are highs and lows - times when you need it most, times when you start to distance from it a bit, and times when you refresh your commitment to it. No system is perfect - you have to find the one that works best for you. For me, focus is a constant struggle, even for more than a few minutes - I think I may have a touch of undiagnosed ADD. The system that works best is a backbone of GTD, with the Pomodoro technique thrown in to help me focus on longer tasks, and some Flylady-style routines to keep things in order in my home. I'm no stranger to a busy lifestyle. I work a full time job as well as a part-time one as a community educator, am a part-time graduate student, and do extensive volunteer work with my church and non-profit groups.

    Last week we unexpectedly took on my husband's sister, who is still in high school. She will be living with us for the next few years. School hasn't even started yet, and the paperwork to get her enrolled is already in a big pile. I'm wondering how other people work their school-age kids' activities into their GTD systems.

    I'm picturing her giving me general dates for holidays and projects and putting it into my calendar, but do you have any other tips to set her up for success with the help of GTD? Do you help your kids develop their own GTD system? (I'd love to help her do this, if she's willing.) I'm getting her a computer & cell phone, and will probably give her a large basket to store her books and school projects. We're planning on having her use the dining room table as a study space, since she needs some guidance and monitoring for study time. (Normally I'd trust a teenager to structure her own study time, but she's far behind and has requested help with disciplined studying.)

    Basically, I have a new teenager and we're trying to figure out how to set her up for success and avoid some of the hectic disorganization I sometimes see in families.

    Thank you!

  • #2
    I would definitely recommend that she has her own inbox and that you encourage her to use your inbox so that she knows where she can put things that you need to see/action. A good routine might be to empty the school bag every evening of any loose papers etc. that might need to have something done with them and get them into the right inbox, whether it be hers or yours.

    If you are able to, I would recommend taking the 14 day Connect trial and listening to the GTD and kids webinar that was broadcast late last year. I haven't had the chance to listen yet myself, but I heard lots of people applauding it on the forums.

    Good luck!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by cojo View Post
      I work a full time job as well as a part-time one as a community educator, am a part-time graduate student, and do extensive volunteer work with my church and non-profit groups.
      That is a full plate! Do you have the flexibility in your life, let alone in your system, to create time and space for your new teen? I think if I were in your situation (and I took on 10- and 14-year-old step daughters full-time 5 years ago...) I would see what projects could be delegated to others for a few weeks (months?) while she settles in. It's hard to predict exactly what she'll need until you're in the middle of it, so having some low-stress breathing room is super important.

      Good luck!

      Dena

      Comment


      • #4
        Sounds like you have a great opportunity to guide your new teen into some good practices that will support her as she moves into college and adulthood. For super-quick wins that you can build upon later, I recommend that she has her own inbox, and that she develops the habit of emptying her backpack and handbag or wallet into each day. This will help reduce clutter and help you all avoid surprises (Back-to-School Night is TONIGHT????).

        Secondly, set up a tickler file. My daughter is younger, so we have 6 folders: Monday-Friday plus Weekend. Depending on your student's assignments, you might need 43 folders as described in the DAC setup guides.

        As she becomes more comfortable with these simple routines, talk to her about defining outcomes and next actions, show her how you work your system, and help her develop a system that works for her.

        Best of luck to both you!
        Sheryl

        Comment


        • #5
          Upper Horizons

          Of course, I have no idea of the context of this development in your household, but it sounds like all of you (especially the "new teen") could benefit from getting your thoughts down on paper re: the upper horizons. You say she will be living with you for the next few years... Is there a definite time frame? Do you all have the same expectations of the arrangement?

          I think it's great - especially if the teen is a willing participant - to get them set up with the runway stuff, but surely this must represent a huge upheaval for each of you in different ways, and you could only benefit from getting and staying on the same page with each other?...

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks to all for your thoughts! I really appreciate it. I think commenters are absolutely right that I need to sit down and reorganize my high-level goals, just to put my brain in the proper place. I'll follow this up with a brain dump for goals and projects, and I may well involve her in this process. Things feel a bit like "keeping up" at this point, and I'm finding myself having a lot of moments of "oh yeah - we have to get her registered for the SAT! Schedule her permit exam!" etc. I think taking a deep breath, starting from the top, and working downwards will help.

            I do have a full plate, and I'm easing back on as much of the volunteer work as I can. I talked to folks at my school just to move back a bit of my coursework until we get adjusted. Things are made easier by the fact that the kid is in her mid-teens, so she is fairly independent at this point.

            We've made expectations clear. She is welcome to stay at our home as long as she is either in school (including college, which we can financially support) or working full-time through her mid-twenties, but I think she will want to move out as soon as she's a stable adult.

            Again, thank you all, I think this will be a really positive time for everyone

            Comment


            • #7
              Here is what I done with my niece.

              First, I explained the GTD system, and showed her the way I have mine setup. She already knows that I am very organized, and very productive.

              I then explained to her that the reason I would like her to learn this is so she can stay up to date and current with her studies in school, AND still have the time to have fun and hang out with her friends.

              I think this part is really important. Show her that she can have her cake and eat it to. Explain how most kids either study too hard and have no fun, or have alot of fun but get nowhere in school. But with GTD, she can have both.

              And explain to her that by using GTD she will actually spend less time on homework, than if she didn't use GTD. The reason is because she will be quickly figuring out projects, goals, actions, and having a good system will allow her to move quickly through her actions and complete everything, allowing for more time for fun and socializing.

              I also had her:

              A) treat each class as a different "area of focus and responsibility"

              B) treat each homework assignment as a separate project

              My niece has told me that this has really helped her have a clear picture of how her classes fit together. She really likes the areas of focus and responsibility. And when she started part time job, she was able to quickly add that to her list with no problems.

              Two more ideas.

              if you are getting her a cell phone, then one thing that you can do is show her how to use the calendar properly, specifically for setting alarms/reminders about things that she needs to do, and due dates for her homework assignments.

              And secondly you could look into having her buy an app that will help her manage her action lists and projects.

              Actually another good idea is set her up with a Free GTD trial account and have her watch the "Paper Planning Model" video. This would be great if she chooses to manage everything by paper.

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