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  • GTD implementation question

    I am not totally finished with the book as this week has been crazy personified, but I will be in the next day or two. I've read most of it and am sure that this is a system I want to give a whirl. I've explained the basic premise to my husband and he wants to read the book (shock of shocks). I see him loving the mind clearing pros of the system (he gets totally paralyzed when too many things come at him to handle on the fly) but developing routines of putting things into the system will be what I forsee as his main challenge. Since we run a home and small business together, I see a real value in our implementing this together.

    There is no way we can go through the collecting, sorting, and organizing phases to get the system truly set up before vacation. However, since I've been slowly purging and organizing the "stuff" of our lives as a goal this quarter, I could make some type of start depending on what fires come up early next week. I'm wondering if there's value in waiting until we're home and refreshed from vacation before tackling the system. It seems I should do that in order to "get it right" from the start, but it leaves me feeling at the moment like I'm contributing to the problem by staying with our less effective systems.

    I'm considering working on the master project list and setting up some Next Actions in the main categories as a prelude. I know I won't get it all, but I think with some time and thought, we can brainstorm the majority of the big picture at least (I've never operated enough from a runway mindset, so I know those would be the things that I need the collect and sort for).

    I guess my real question is whether it's more valuable in instituting a new system to wait and do it step by step all together when we have time (in a couple weeks) which it seems Mr Allen is advising, or if we could go ahead and start sorting and organizing the items and issues we're aware of now and then add the rest of our stuff in a couple weeks when we have time to gather it together.

    Sorry about the long post to get to the question!

  • #2
    Originally posted by Aspen
    I guess my real question is whether it's more valuable in instituting a new system to wait and do it step by step all together when we have time (in a couple weeks) which it seems Mr Allen is advising, or if we could go ahead and start sorting and organizing the items and issues we're aware of now and then add the rest of our stuff in a couple weeks when we have time to gather it together.
    In the initial stage, you collect everything, process it, and then figure out how to organize it. If I remember correctly, the book recommends a couple days to collect/process/organize all your inputs at once. I personally did not do it that way; I found I could only handle so many hours at a time before risking my sanity. So I did the initial stage over the course of a couple weeks, a few hours at a time. The result, though, was that I got it done.

    So if you have the time before your vacation, you could get in a few chunks of collect/process/organize time, and do the rest when you get home.

    In other words, do it however will best fit your schedule and preferences, and don't worry about getting everything "right" from the start.

    And be sure to relax and have fun on your vacation!

    Comment


    • #3
      Make it Someday/Maybe.

      All the stuff that you were not able to fully insert into GTD in the first step of implementation may be put on your Someday/Maybe list as a future GTD project(s). In this way you cover everything without actually inserting it into GTD.

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      • #4
        (Disclaimer: the following is pure speculation.)
        David Allen and his company make their money mostly by giving seminars and doing individual coaching.

        There is limited time that David Allen will sit in your office with you.

        So he has a program set up where he flies in, talks to you, helps you set up your office, create your lists, organize your files, and flies out. This might last 2-3 days.

        From reading the GTD book, that's what it sounds like to me.

        This is the "revolutionary" model of GTD.

        I (and it sounds like andersons, too) implemented the "evolutionary" model of GTD. I read the book and then read it again. I did not set aside two days to do nothing but collect. I implemented the program piecemeal. Two years later and I know that I am still learning new stuff (this week I was refining my project plan documentation in a way that I never did before).

        I know that the system does not work unless you can trust that everything is on your lists. So that argues for the revolutionary, all-or-nothing perspective. After all, you can't use the system unless you trust that all your lists comprise all your commitments. But I believe that no one will be trusting their system and using it properly after a three-day collection process or even after a one-week immersion program. There are too many new habits to learn and the learning curve is way too steep to get up to speed in a week.

        They tell people on diets to adopt a healthy way of eating that you can follow for the rest of your life. GTD is the same thing. It is a major undertaking. In my case, it has taken years to implement fully. I do not say this to discourage anyone but, rather, to encourage them to start today and take a small step. Clean up 1/2 a draw of that file cabinet. Do a mind dump and put your next actions into categories. Take 1/2 hour today and 1/2 tomorrow to take that pile of stuff off your credenza and process it.

        It's an old maxim of time management programs to take big undertakings and break them down into small, digestible parts. DA's spin on this is to figure our what is the next physical action. Implementing GTD is a giant project. If you tell yourself you must empty all your drawers, empty your mind, clean up all your messes, collect everything, process it and organize it between Saturday morning and Sunday night, you will probably create a lot of stress. I am sure some people have done this successfully. But your particular situation sounds like it is already filled with a lot of stress and deadlines.

        Instead, I would suggest you start setting up a NA list with the generic categories David gives. The start populating that list with some clearly defined physical next actions which are broken down into very small pieces.

        I started GTD more than 2 years ago and I still have some drawers in my office that I have not yet gone through. But my commitment to do so is on my list. They are like David's garage. I pass them each day and say, "Nah! Not today. Executive decision!"

        Comment


        • #5
          GTD Book quotation page 87

          An ideal time frame for most people is two whole days, back to back. (Don't be put off by that if you don't have that long to spend, though: doing any of the activities I suggest will be useful, no matter how much or how little time you devote to them. Two days are not required to benefit from these techniques and principles--they will start to pay off almost instantly.)

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Aspen
            There is no way we can go through the collecting, sorting, and organizing phases to get the system truly set up before vacation. However, since I've been slowly purging and organizing the "stuff" of our lives as a goal this quarter, I could make some type of start depending on what fires come up early next week....

            I guess my real question is whether it's more valuable in instituting a new system to wait and do it step by step all together when we have time (in a couple weeks) which it seems Mr Allen is advising, or if we could go ahead and start sorting and organizing the items and issues we're aware of now and then add the rest of our stuff in a couple weeks when we have time to gather it together.
            Like you, I couldn't afford the time to implement when I first read the book. I took things in phases over a period of several weeks. Not ideal, but it can be successful.

            Sounds like you are already on the right track for most of the things you can do to prepare yourself.

            The major risk of the slow start approach is that you can get lost in the vast wilderness of transition. Avoid this by blocking some calendar time after vacation when you can really get down to the formal collection & processing. I would recommend at least a full day and you might need more. The most important thing is to have a definite time in your own mind when you move beyond preparation and into full operation.

            Here are good things to consider during your prep stage:

            (1) Throw out anything and everything you can. Any amount of decluttering you can do now will pay off at collection & processing time. Purge old files, throw out obsolete software, clean out your desk drawers, whatever. Don't just put it into a pile. Actually get rid of it so that it never comes back.

            (2) Take an hour or two to browse the local office supply store. Think about how you will organize your reference files. Stock the supplies you will need before you start--- clean file drawer space, fresh folders, labelmaker (recommended) or file labels, etc. You might even need a new file cabinet.

            (3) Start the collection process informally. This is especially important if you have stuff spread out in multiple places. You need to bring it all to one collection point. As you sift through material, start stacking it up in a designated area for later processing.

            (4) Getting your list started in advance is helpful. Just keep adding things as they occur to you without worrying whether they are next actions, projects, or something else. This will ultimately be the basis for your NA list and projects list. There is a certain amount of relief to getting this out of your head, plus it will help when you return from vacation.

            (5) A short project that you can tackle in advance is setting up your 43 tickler folders. Just making the folders and hanging them takes a little while. If you have bought a new labelmaker, this is a good project to give it a trial run.

            Good luck!
            Last edited by Bill; 10-23-2005, 06:04 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              I have the GTD Fast CDs, a recording of a seminar. David Allen has the participants do a "Mind Dump" during the seminar. This is no different, Aspen, than your starting a project/NA list now. He also says that most people will not begin with the two-day process of getting everything set up. He advocates getting even one part of the system going and developing it as you have time. Doing only one part of GTD has benefit.

              I, too, have implemented GTD in a step-by-step process. I had too many years of files, paper, and other "stuff" to do a two-day marathon, plus I just didn't/don't have two days to set aside for this project, either at work or at home. Anything you can do to get started will help, in my opinion.

              Carolyn

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              • #8
                A 2-day GTD start-up does not necessarily include the piles of dormant stuff from 6 months ago or 2 years ago. In fact, David Allen recommends not tackling them first, as it can easily sidetrack the process. He suggests mentally putting yellow police tape around these dormant collection points, and adding "process big pile on office floor" to your project list. This works because putting it on the list does get it off your mind. What you do have to process to get started is "current" stuff, which may go back a month or a year or whatever, depending on the person.

                The "sharpen the saw" metaphor used by Covey is worth keeping in mind when starting GTD: up-front investment in planning and organization pays off in better and faster results with less stress. But there is more to the workflow than that. What might appear to be a mechanistic process of following a flowchart can also be incredibly stress-relieving, because it forces us to name our fears, and to go from "I don't want to think about it" to "This project is not going to turn out so well. I can't change what has happened. This is what is real now. What is the realistic desired outcome now? How can I make it happen? What's the next action?" It has been my repeated experience that 5 minutes of confronting a difficult issue can alleviate days of gnawing anxiety. The trick is to remember the lesson..

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                • #9
                  I implemented GTD over time - I am a business owner and SAHM to a toddler so sitting down for two days and going through my life would be kind of a joke without making major arrangements.

                  The way I started is that I began making lists of Next Actions and putting them in their contexts. As I thought of things I needed to do, I set them up as projects or next actions or someday/maybes. I will even admit that I'm in month four and occassionally I think of things that aren't ingetrated into my lists and could be. For instance, it wasn't until this month that I started tracking my hobby projects with GTD, but now that I am, I have so much more fun working on projects because I'm not wondering what other projects I have started that I need to be finishing or if I have time to take on a new project.

                  My advice is to start where you're at and build from there. If it isn't on a next action list, it isn't going to get done so make sure it gets there if it's important. If you stick to that rule, the important things will make it on the list and then the others will come along in time.

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