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  • Challenges to implementing GTD/how you overcame

    I am curious--what challenges have you had to overcome to implement GTD and what did you do to overcome them? Also, what benefits have you accrued as a result of GTD? Any surprises along the way? For me--the sheer volume, boredom with going through stuff and getting fatigued and getting interupted. Listening to the FAST tapes I am working has helped a little. I am challeneged by the number and kinds of context buckets (I'm not always right) about what I can do where. Projects to next actions is a devilish problem. I keep spawning more and more projects as I try to tackle the existing ones (they truly have babies). My weekly reviews which I am now doing several times a week because my hard landscape changes have boosted my productivity. I am putting lots and lots of trash out!

  • #2
    Challenges

    Hi Jamie-

    I'll start off by saying that I agree with the claim that GTD is the best fully-functional system for handling day to day actions and projects. It's a great tool for imposing organization on life, which as we all know can be very complex!

    Having said that, I think there are challenges aplenty. Most of them are not so much "system" problems as they are "operator" problems

    One of mine is certainly popular: consistently doing weekly reviews. It takes a hell of a commitment to keep doing it week after week. The temptation is always, "I have enough to do already. I'm not going to chop 2 hours out of my day so I can write down and organize it all....I just need to get it done!"

    Some things I've done to compensate for this is to spend more mini-chunks of time throughout the week cleaning up the system, processing and organizing. 5 minutes here, 10 minutes here, etc.

    In the end though, that chunk of time for the review is important. Still need to work on that one

    Also, when you first get running with the system, it can seem ridiculous. All your "stuff" is so unorganized and you have so much in your head, a weekly review can take much, much longer than 2 hours. Don't let it discourage you...it gets better over time, as you get more used to the system and do the actions more consistently.

    Still, there are times when you're just too busy to keep things updated. In my opinion, you have to decide which is going to relieve more stress for you, putting out the fire or organizing your GTD system. Don't manically claim to keep your system totally updated while the sky is falling down around you...that's not what it's for. You can always go back when things have settled down and fix it. Or keep plugging away at it for as long as it takes until it's really humming along.

    Another problem, similar to what you said about projects spawning babies. Mine just had quintuplets. Anyone want some? I have them up for adoption

    My someday/maybe list is ridiculously long- 1200 items and counting. I've decided there's no way in hell I'm going to review that thing every week. So, I'll be splitting out the ones that realistically I don't want to start anytime soon and putting those in a seperate list, to review maybe once a month or so.

    As far as having more and more projects, I think that's one thing using GTD gets you to realize: you need to make some higher level decisions about what you want to do with your life. No matter how good your time management system, there's still only so much you can accomplish in a given day. If you have hundreds and hundreds of projects, in my opinion you need to go "up a few levels" and figure out if these really match your goals, values and life vision. If not, lop them off or stick them in someday/maybe.

    The first stage I went through with GTD was getting organized and getting things into a system rather than in my head. The next stage, still ongoing, has been getting more focused and disciplined about what projects/next actions I'll put on my plate. That comes from getting clearer about 20,000+ levels and making better decisions about what you want to enter into your life.

    Hope this helps

    take care,
    Matt

    Comment


    • #3
      Getting the Lists under Control

      At first I micro-managed the maintenance of the system and spent too much time on it. I stopped obsessing about keeping perfectly up-to-date and would rely on the Weekly Review for catching up. Now I use a notepad for my daily activities and notes (and keep my GTD data handy in my Palm) and update my GTD system only once a day for history and new Processed items.

      In the initial enthusiasm, my ToDo list got out of hand. I dumped off a lot into Someday/Maybe and then that got out of hand. So I simply deleted everything in Someday/Maybe on the assumption that if anything was important it would come back into my head again.

      I made my Projects list more manageable by not creating a Project unless it is ongoing and unfinished and there is no current next action. I write the Outcome and the First Action as a ToDo and as long as the Project remains active I just move it through the categories of next actions. If it gets stalled, I park the Project in the Waiting For list; if it becomes suspended, I put it in the Projects List. My Projects List is now a short list of things I would otherwise be in danger of neglecting or forgetting.

      It took me about 9 months to get the system to where I was no longer anxious to change it.

      Andrew

      Comment


      • #4
        Jamie,

        I started with GTD almost 2 yrs ago, and I'm not sailing yet. Not because of the system, but because of operator difficulties like said above.The process of implementing GTD helped me to identify those difficulties.
        For example: delegate more (and I have to train someone in order to delegate more), insufficient planning (I have to train myself), interruptions, keep a weekly review, do just one thing at a time (that's a tough one).
        I think GTD helps my productivity not only by keeping a complete inventory of the work I have to do and giving me tools to do it faster, but also be identifying self-improvement needs.

        Myriam

        Comment


        • #5
          Andmor - FWIW for a while I separated Someday from "Maybe." The former were the projects I was committed to but not now; the latter were those I wanted to do but had no firm commitment. I actually kept the "Someday" list off the built in apps to not clog things up.

          Stay Warm,
          Today it is -30c here.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Challenges to implementing GTD/how you overcame

            Originally posted by Jamie Ellis
            I am curious--what challenges have you had to overcome to implement GTD and what did you do to overcome them? Also, what benefits have you accrued as a result of GTD? Any surprises along the way? For me--the sheer volume, boredom with going through stuff and getting fatigued and getting interupted. Listening to the FAST tapes I am working has helped a little. I am challeneged by the number and kinds of context buckets (I'm not always right) about what I can do where. Projects to next actions is a devilish problem. I keep spawning more and more projects as I try to tackle the existing ones (they truly have babies). My weekly reviews which I am now doing several times a week because my hard landscape changes have boosted my productivity. I am putting lots and lots of trash out!
            Boredom/Volume: I had that problem. Soln was to move Projects -> Someday-maybe and Wait lists and Tickle/Cal. Keep your Projects lists down to things that actually benefit from weekly review. Otherwise, put it somewhere else. Keep Comm list down to people you'll actually contact w/in the next week.

            Don't know anything about the FAST tapes.

            Sounds like you have way too many projects. I keep my list on a single page.
            Part of your xweek review should be to toss projects into other lists as appropriate. You have to categorize someday/maybe's.

            Problems I've had are "Staleness". Is it stale? Tighten up. Make sure acts are ALL really FIRST acts. Toss projects into wait/cal-tick/some-maybe.

            Had difficulty w/ recurrences. Solved by creating signoff sheets for dailies. (Works up to x-2weeks). Works great.

            I'm a paper person. I think those 'lectric people are goofballs. Not a luddite; I'm a programmer. My sys is quite different than what was written in GTD, but the GTD is GREAT and marked a major change in my life. I had a thought-tracking sys before, my sys is now hybrid GTD/thought-sys. Benefits are clarity, piggy-backing, FREEDOM, and, (if you limit your projects), focus.

            This post wasn't on my list, but thanks to freedom granted by GTD, it's here. Todo's wouldn't permit this. I can't live with a system tied around my neck.

            Comment


            • #7
              What is a thought system?

              Lionkimbro - What is your thought tracking systems and what kind of hybrid system did you develop? How do you have things set up? I would like to hear more about this when you have the time, sounds like something I could use.

              Thanks,

              Alan

              Comment


              • #8
                Projects List

                andmor: you wrote "I made my Projects list more manageable by not creating a Project unless it is ongoing and unfinished and there is no current next action. I write the Outcome and the First Action as a ToDo and as long as the Project remains active I just move it through the categories of next actions. If it gets stalled, I park the Project in the Waiting For list; if it becomes suspended, I put it in the Projects List. My Projects List is now a short list of things I would otherwise be in danger of neglecting or forgetting. "

                Can you expand on this? I am just starting out, looking at using either Datebk5 or the native Palm apps, but assiciating a task to its project is really hanging me up (I know that Datebk5 allows linking of todos, but the links are lost in Outlook, and I have so many projects that it seemed like I was spending all my time creating links).

                Your system sounds like something I'm looking for.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Implementing GTD

                  Jim,
                  If you are really intrested in using DateBk5 and outlook to manage projects, there is a method of keeping the links intact as well as having all the actions shown for a given project in Outlook with the Project title using a custom form. Cost.........30 min to set up and you are set.
                  George
                  Baltimore

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Avoiding Linking of NA's to Projects

                    Jim:

                    The rationalization came from analyzing 2 ways that the book describes Projects:

                    1. Prospective definition of Project: A Project is any Outcome that WILL require more than one step - this was my initial GtD application and and I accumulated a long list of Projects, including unstarted Projects. Unless I immediately noted the next NA when one was completed, the process of matching NA's with Projects and making sure that each Project had a NA became cumbersome and I had the natural tendency to try to link NA's with Projects because it seemed logical. But linking merely led to a time-consuming electronic substitute for the lower-tech comparison of Project and Action lists.

                    2. Retrospective definition of Project: If when you complete the NA the Outcome has not been met, then you have a Project. This definition, along with the principle that a Project can only have one NA, led me to assume that a Project need only be set up after at least one NA has been completed and the Outcome has not been met and there is no NA that can be allocated to an Action List or WF. So now I set up an active Project by integrating the Outcome into the NA text, which goes into a Context Action List, and then I work through the NA and any subsequent NA's in the same time-frame/Context. When I leave the Project, I note the next NA and move it into the appropriate Action List or WF. Only if I choose to suspend the Project do I create an entry to the Project List. To summarize: no linking is required. A Project is unstarted (Someday/Maybe), active and moving (Action Lists or WF) or suspended (Projects List). The Projects list is short. The only other entries in the Project List are Master Projects dependent on the completion of active sub-Projects.

                    I believe that if I Review my lists thoroughly, then it shouldn't matter whether an item is on an Action List or the Projects List, as long as I pick up and think about all items. When I review the Projects List, I only have to decide whether to re-activate a Project by writing a NA and transferring it into an Action List, to reaffirm my commitment to re-activating it later, or to abandon it. I don't want to consider Someday/Maybe as an option because I already have some active investment in the Outcome.

                    Andrew

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My two challenges...in 1997

                      I first met David in November, 1997.

                      I met my first workflow coach in 1998 (a colleague of David's). She came to my classroom, and for two days we "processed."

                      My two challenges (not necessarily in order) were:

                      1) General Reference Filing. I did NOT immediatly go for an A-Z system. It took a couple of weeks, but when I DID...my life changed. I realized that I had spent a LOT of time, before, looking for things I knew I had filed.

                      2) Getting things out of my head. You see, I was a History and Spanish teacher. I had pride in the fact that I can remember things...words, dates, vocabulary, maps, etc. Well, in the time that I've been writing things down, I've learned more, traveled more, met more people...I attribute it all to the fact that in getting things OUT of my head, I made room for something new!

                      Kind of like buying clothes. I've found the easiest way for me to update my wardrobe is to start purging the things I don't want...the local donation store loves me!

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