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  • Am I busy enough to use GTD?

    I just registered but have been lurking for several months. I bought GTD several months ago and have read thru it a couple of times and I'm at a crossroads. This question keeps bugging me...Am I busy enough to be able to efficiently use the GTD method?

    I am a husband, father of two toddlers, full time employee, homeowner, house cleaner, family cook, yardman and in my spare time I have been known to take on a DIY project around the house. Now, in my mind, there seems to be plenty on that list to warrant immediate implementation of GTD, but if I look more closely at my lists I come to realize that most of what covers me up does so outside of my office. Sure, I have plenty of times when I know I'm going to be busy for the next couple of days, but I also have times when I am sitting around waiting for the clock to say I can go home and put all of those other hats on. Establishing the GTD habit is something I have struggled with simply because I can't seem to keep enough things on my list to warrant spending all of that time listing them.

    Another issue I have is that because my list tilts overwhelmingly towards @Home and I have two toddlers, the bulk of my list never gets done! If I could leave the office when I got everything done and run home while the kids were gone, I think I could see progress being made. However, I don't think the stockholders would appreciate paying me for 40 hrs when I only work 25, and I'm sure my superiors wouldn't be excited about that idea, either!

    So, here I am...stuck in limbo trying to decide if I'm in or out. I desperately need to clear my mind of all of these things, but I feel a little guilty taking up 2 hrs a week at the office pondering my @Home to-do list!

    Can anyone help me make a decision? Do I play in this sandbox or clear out of the way for someone who needs this worse than I?

    Thanks for your input...I'll be checking back frequently for the next couple of days as I have completed my work until Monday!

    David

  • #2
    You need to make the decision yourself, of course, but it sounds like you *are busy enough. IMO, GTD is supposed to cover all aspects of your life so that everything runs a little smoother. Your home pressures will affect your work, reducing stress there will help you work better and more efficiently.

    Having said that, if you feel guilty about spending two hours at work doing the weekly review, maybe you can spend less time, an hour or half an hour if that is all you need. I personally find that two hours is not enough, but then I think I'm pretty slow. That's a subject for another posting.

    My $.02; count yourself lucky that you have a forgiving job schedule and (discretely) take advantage of time you can redistribute to personal matters for now. It may not be the case in the future.

    Cheers

    Comment


    • #3
      Well Dave, I have a less complicated life, (no kids) but at work I have the same issue, sometimes I am extremely busy sometimes I am extremely Idle...

      I will recommend you to do GTD anyway, at the begining what I use to do was do my review at home, then I do not have that gulty feeling, now I do it at work, because waht I discover is that the GTD system is letting me keep more track of my ideas at work, and as well as I check a lot of personal things I also work with a lot of work things, therefore this for me is a WORK TOOL, that is also use in my other things.

      I do not know what is your job, but one of the things GTD is letting me do is get into those projects "Dreams" that every person has at work. I am a Sales Manager for Latin America but I live in Los Angeles, I get to work around 6:30am and try to get out by 5:30pm (yes I get at 6:30 because I want to enjoy time at night with my wife), I have with the years many projects that I dream I can do or think about it, with GTD if I get one of those SLOW times in the day, I can check my lists and go for it.

      I think that even if you can define which of your home projects has priority and wich ones not, is going to generate a big difference.

      The challenge for you Dave...

      Get the system in place (get a long lunch time tomorow) and tested for 4 weeks, if you do not see difference, well do not invest time in that... get into GTD is really hard, get out is a piece of cake... therefore do not worry if you do not like it you can go back in a second...

      good luck!

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      • #4
        I was initially attracted to GTD, not to manage my work life, but to manage my home life. There are benefits to my work, of course, but where I see real progress is @Home.

        Comment


        • #5
          I certainly agree that there are plenty of uses for GTD in the @Home arena. The difficulty I see is that with the increased knowledge and prioritization of my @Home list comes an increase in the frustration level because I'm having difficulty carving out the time to address my NA's from that list.

          Looking back on my initial post, I suppose that the implementation of GTD is not supposed to create time where none existed previously...its purpose is more to assist with making a better use of that time.

          Does that statement make sense? Is it true?

          Thanks for your thoughts.

          Uncle Dave

          Comment


          • #6
            increase in the frustration level because I'm having difficulty carving out the time to address my NA's from that list.
            So then, you are busy at home?

            In general (IMHO) I think busy or not is not the issue in deciding whether or not to begin implementing GTD methodology. If you aren't busy, whether it be @home or @work, you can still begin to GTD and will still see even better efficiency in the way you use your time, which can allow new things to be opened up to you. New ideas, new goals, etc...

            I actually started implementing GTD @home before I did @work. It's easier for me, because @home I am more the master of my domain than I am at work. Plus, @work, I have to deal with my "organizational Neanderthal" boss, which makes GTD much more difficult.

            I think the question is, if you implement the system will you be ready for the onslaught of new ideas that could possibly come to you once all your current commitments are out on the table and organized? It's a scary thing to consciously make a decision to allow more 'stuff' to come into your life and onto your table.

            That's just how I see it.

            good luck.

            e

            Comment


            • #7
              To me, the biggest benefit of GTD appeared to be not losing track of important actions that need to be done. Because all necessary and potential actions are collected, processed, organized, and reviewed, there is at the least the potential to actually DO them. So if you have enough potential actions, GTD is going to help you at least not forget about them.

              Not even the most beautifully organized and comprehensive lists, though, are going to actually do the actions for you (sigh), as many of us have found out.

              If you are frustrated at too many things that aren't getting done, my suggestion is to move all but the most important to a Someday/Maybe list. Just leave the ones you could potentially do this week. This is essentially prioritizing, but it has to be done, whether on the fly or in the weekly review. I do not like to look at loooooong lists that don't change much from week to week. The Someday/Maybe list is a brilliant lifesaver in that regard! It's one of the best tips I've put to use.

              -andersons

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              • #8
                the magic of the someday/maybe list

                The Someday/Maybe list is a brilliant lifesaver in that regard! It's one of the best tips I've put to use.

                -andersons
                I don't know if you've seen it, but here's Meg's view on this...

                http://www.davidco.com/coaches_corne...article16.html

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Uncle Dave
                  Looking back on my initial post, I suppose that the implementation of GTD is not supposed to create time where none existed previously...its purpose is more to assist with making a better use of that time.
                  Personally, I'd have to agree with this statement. The past several months have been very busy for me, at both work and home. I've still got the same 24 hours, but now I'm less worried about forgetting a task that's important or trying to keep track of a dozen notes about many different things. This has taken some of the pressure off of the things I need to accomplish. I can focus more on completing tasks. I'm definitely noticing that more is getting done. As a side note, others have also noticed how organized and smooth my projects and tasks go. It's definitely helped my reputation as well as freeing up my brain.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Uncle Dave
                    Looking back on my initial post, I suppose that the implementation of GTD is not supposed to create time where none existed previously...its purpose is more to assist with making a better use of that time.

                    Does that statement make sense? Is it true?
                    In my experience, absolutely. And I think you put it well. If I could sum it up, I think I've seen two primary benefits to GTD @ Home:
                    1. I'm more conscious of just what I have to do, so I don't overwhelm myself trying to do more than I can realistically accomplish given the time I have available. Using the Someday/Maybe list, as andersons mentioned, is particularly helpful in this regard. I can record all the @Home stuff I want to do eventually, and choose what to focus on for the immediate future. And I feel more freedom to say no to things that I just don't have time to do.
                    2. I also make better use of the time I do have available. With an accurate inventory of everything I need to do @Home, I make better use of small chunks of time to complete NAs and move projects forward. Just last night, I had about 30 minutes between arriving home from work, and leaving again to visit friends. I looked at my Next Action lists and knocked off several small items. Before, I would have wasted that time because I couldn't decide what, of all the many things floating in my head, I should do with it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Uncle Dave
                      Looking back on my initial post, I suppose that the implementation of GTD is not supposed to create time where none existed previously...its purpose is more to assist with making a better use of that time.
                      Initially, GTD increased the stress in my life. I had a great deal of guilt and tension around my huge lists (even my Someday/Maybe lists produced some negative feelings).

                      Then one day I tried to put it into perspective. After a lot of thought I boiled it down to one law and one corollary (which I think is paraphrased from something I read long ago).

                      Law: "You can do anything you want, you just can't do everything you want".
                      Corollary: "You will never get caught up. Learn to live with it."

                      I've been a lot more relaxed since then. If certain actions stay in a context for a while and I feel myself going numb to them I'm a lot more ruthless about re-negotiating with myself. I ask myself "How important is this really?" "What's the worst that could happen if I didn't do it?"

                      I'm still reluctant to delete actions completely but have no trouble moving them back to Someday/Maybe. And a big Someday/Maybe list is a joy now rather than a burden... enough for several lifetimes!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Stress

                        Originally posted by jhegener
                        Initially, GTD increased the stress in my life. I had a great deal of guilt and tension around my huge lists (even my Someday/Maybe lists produced some negative feelings).
                        Yes! Me too! My jaw would become incredibly tense when I was dealing with my lists, which is highly atypical for me.

                        Originally posted by jhegener
                        Then one day I tried to put it into perspective. After a lot of thought I boiled it down to one law and one corollary (which I think is paraphrased from something I read long ago).

                        Law: "You can do anything you want, you just can't do everything you want".
                        Corollary: "You will never get caught up. Learn to live with it."
                        I found that whenever I looked at my lists and felt overwhelmed by how many things I had to do, I could help myself by thinking, "Well, it's your list. Why not delete half of the things on there? Would that make you feel better?" This always caused an internal, primal scream of "Noooooo!", which somehow cracked me up and let me take things less seriously.

                        Eventually, the tension went away. I'm not exactly sure why. I think that, in my case, it was caused by keeping a list of things I wanted to do, but not acting on the items in the list. In other words, believing I was being irresponsible (with some cause, admittedly).

                        It's your list. You made it. You want to do all this stuff. If you don't want to do everything on your list, change it! (If you dare.)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Wow! I didn't realize there would be so many who cared one way or the other whether I used GTD or not! And, on top of that, I even garnered a response from Jason! I'm not worthy!!

                          I did some thinking this past weekend and thought it only fair that I reported back on the direction in which I'm leaning concerning my dilemma. Thanks to all who responded to my initial inquiry. Your responses from outside my little box are very much appreciated!

                          Thought #1: I'm missing the boat with the Someday/Maybe category. I have to go back and review that list and see why I'm not using it effectively. I think part of the answer to that may lie in the fact that I'm struggling to give myself permission to put anything on that list. In the past, if it was important enough to warrant being written down at all, it was certainly important enough for me to identify a specific time to accomplish that item. Again, a review of that section may provide some clarity.

                          Thought #2: I'm counting too heavily on the idea that GTD is a plan that, once implemented, will effectively run itself and just drag me along...in other words, if I can just catch the GTD wave, I'll be home free! After reviewing earlier threads, I'm beginning to see that while such a GTD wave might exist, it is not a situation that will ever allow me to coast. It might allow me to gather momentum and point me in the right direction, but I will not be able to coast.

                          Thought #3: In my thinking, a mind like water is something to be feared! My mind has been like cloudy water for some time now. Do I really want to be able to see that waterfall over which I'm about to plunge?

                          I guess it's time to pull the book back out and start the process over. Maybe this time around I will just Someday/Maybe everything and just pull a couple of things at a time from that list instead of the other way around.

                          Thanks again for your guidance. I continue to covet the expertise of this group!

                          Dave

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I have come to use this method lately.

                            First off, I record EVERYTHING that comes to my mind. I then separate things into next actions, projects, etc. as per our GTD.

                            Now, when I do have way too many next actions or just ToDos listed on my list and my time estimate is that I will have no way to accomplish these things I begin to prioritize in my head and delete things that I obviously can't do due to the amount of time available.

                            It's hard to do but possible. Like someone said -- this is MY list and I am in full command. I don't have to do everything. I do the most urgent things and then I do things that have to move as projects -- I don't want to stall projects, at least, not for too long. As a result, things do get done, and projects do get moving albeit not always at the desired pace, but that's life!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              To GTD or not to GTD?

                              First, I'd have to say that GTD is harder than you think it will be. Its alot to manage and if you are comfortable with the system you have now you may be better off keeping it.

                              Second, there seems to be an all or nothing mentality about GTD sometimes. I have found that just implementing a facet or two can really help. You might want to consider a partial implementation. In fact, thats all I've been able to manage up to now.

                              FWIW,
                              Mark in Texas

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