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Need Help Getting Started

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  • Need Help Getting Started

    Hi,

    I read GTD a few months ago and listened to the audio book last month. Great stuff.

    As much as I want to begin the system right away, I noticed I am already procrastinating. After really thinking about why I haven’t started the system yet, I realize it comes down to two issues:

    1. I don’t have two days to put aside for the initial "collection" phase.

    2. I can’t decide which tool or tools to use for tracking the lists.

    Any advice on how I can overcome these obstacle and get started tomorrow?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    I've been doing this for two years and I still have places in my office and home that have not yet been GTD'd.

    You don't need two days. Use the time you have and get started tomorrow. I did not start GTD by taking two days to do it. Nor did most people on this forum.

    You don't need the perfect tools. I started with Excel because I spend a good part of every day in Excel.

    The default starting tool is paper. Start with that.

    The learning curve is steep. Just get started. You won't know what you need until you start doing it. It won't be perfect at first. Very few things are. But the whole system is about getting things done. Start the doing habit now.

    The GTD system does appear intimidating. Go out on a limb and give it a try. You've probably come this far because you are dissatisfied with your current system. See if doing GTD for a month provides you a noticeable improvement.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for the advice moises. I am going to get started today.

      Just curious about your Excel setup. While I was reading the book Excel was the first thing that popped into my head. My thought was... one Excel file with many (dozens?) worksheets, possibly one worksheet per project plus one worksheet for each context. Is that how you did it?

      Again, thanks for the advice.

      Comment


      • #4
        Excel

        Originally posted by howman
        Thanks for the advice moises. I am going to get started today.

        Just curious about your Excel setup. While I was reading the book Excel was the first thing that popped into my head. My thought was... one Excel file with many (dozens?) worksheets, possibly one worksheet per project plus one worksheet for each context. Is that how you did it?

        Again, thanks for the advice.
        I used Excel as you described. Actually, when I first started, I only set up separate sheets for separate contexts. I did not track projects at first. I just knew which NAs belonged to which project.

        In my first GTD implementation I created a GTD Excel file. And I had a tab for each context. That was it.

        Once I got the hang of that, I started recognizing areas where my system could be strengthened and started looking for other tools.

        How you implement GTD is highly dependent on the nature of your work, your work environment, etc.

        Comment


        • #5
          Bonsai

          I have to say that Bonsai is perfect on the desktop - it links NA's and Projects perfectly. A great tool although I am keen to see version 4 currently in Beta.

          Comment


          • #6
            Starting Out

            I'd recommend starting with a basic paper-based system, a stack of paper, a pen and some way to store it, either file folders or a 3-ring binder with tabs.

            I'm not suggesting that paper or plastic (digital) is better or worse, but in the beginning you want to focus on methods, you want to have a single ubiquitous tool, and you don't want to get distracted by the system.

            But, it's not a one size fits all. Try organizing one project with paper and another with digital (e.g. Excel example) and see which one you're drawn to.

            What's David's quote, you're either attracted or repulsed by your lists, there is no middle ground? You don't want to fight that one.

            Good luck!
            Mark

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Mark Jantzen
              I'd recommend starting with a basic paper-based system, a stack of paper, a pen and some way to store it, either file folders or a 3-ring binder with tabs.
              Really? A paper-based system. I don't know about that. I am a computer guy. I spend all day at a desk in front of a computer. I hate to write, mostly because my penmanship is terrible. Also, I tend to do a lot of personal stuff at work. I would hate to have to carry a stack of folders in my laptop bag every day.

              The interesting thing about GTD is that there is no "one tool". It's kind of a paradox. David gives you this great system and says, "Now go out and implement it any way you like." Many people get lost and complain, "well, what tool should I use?" I am guessing if David said, "Here's this great system and here's the software tool to go with it," many of those same people would complain the system is to restrictive.

              Just an observation.

              I have some more basic questions but I will post new threads.

              Thanks for your input!

              Comment


              • #8
                It' hard to believe.

                Originally posted by howman
                Really? A paper-based system. I don't know about that. I am a computer guy. I spend all day at a desk in front of a computer. I hate to write, mostly because my penmanship is terrible.
                It is really hard to believe that you never use pen and paper. That you never note something on sticky notes.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi TesTeq,

                  I am not saying I NEVER write things down. But during the day, when I'm at the office, I RARELY use paper. Seriously. I keep notepad open on my computer. If someone tells me a phone number, I type it in. I guess you could say this is one of my inboxes.

                  I appreciate Mark's advice. Using paper to start might be a good idea. I think I am just so used to doing everything electronically.

                  Ultimately I think I am looking for a system that uses the Internet to store my todo lists and projects. That way I can read and update the list from home or work.

                  Thanks,
                  Howard

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by howman
                    Really? A paper-based system. I don't know about that. I am a computer guy. I spend all day at a desk in front of a computer. I hate to write, mostly because my penmanship is terrible. Also, I tend to do a lot of personal stuff at work. I would hate to have to carry a stack of folders in my laptop bag every day.
                    I'm with you! A system choice is rarely permanent and if you're drawn to a digital solution then paper-based is the wrong choice for you. But, I often wonder how many people start GTD and get so hung up with the tools that they miss the point of the process which is in the methodology. It's kind of like a golfer who spends all their time getting the right driver and never practices their short-game. The driving range is a blast, but on the course it's a different story.

                    I'm sticking with my recommendation as a guideline, not an absolute.

                    Mark

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Don't wait, just start

                      I just wanted to echo a few of the comments here. The instruction to set aside two days to process your inbox almost made me put the book down there and then!

                      I still have to get stuff done, every day. So I spent a couple of hours processing enough of my desk that I could put a 12" rule with a big yellow label saying "^^STUFF^^" attached to it, and decide that everything on the other side was my inbox. I then had a quick ferret through that to identify any high priority items. When I've done my desk, I'll start at home.

                      Now I have a daily recurring task to spend half an hour clearing the remaining inbox, which will stay there until it fits into the space designated for it.

                      I approached the whole thing backwards - I'd been using MyLifeOrganised as an extended to-do list manager for a few days (get a free trial if you want to experiment with a digital tool that supports GTD - you can always switch later), before I'd even got the David Allen book.

                      Oh, and so far I've not created no more paper files than will fit in a stack of 4 in-trays on my desk: "In", "Next Actions" (actually, support materials for next actions that are recorded in MLO), "Supplies" (folders, notepads) , and Archive". Almost everything that comes my way is electronic - if I have a printed document it's something I'm working on/reading only. It's not quite the process David encourages, but I want to see if this will work given how little paper I see. I already have a reasonable reference filing system (about fifty feet of bookshelves at home and about twenty at the office) that copes with most other things, though I'll review that when I've got the day-to-day stuff under control.

                      Sorry if this is a somewhat heretical first post, but I tend to take the view that smaller incremental changes (and I can already feel the benefits a few days in) are more likely to stick than attempting a radical change in habits.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hey Andy,

                        Thanks for you input. I did exactly what you said - just start. I am processing thing as they come in right now. I can see possibly having some time the last week in December to process my existing stuff.

                        Keep me posted on your system.

                        Comment

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