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  • For Those that have used GTD for 2+ years...

    As I’ve only been using this system a short while, I can see how it is a work in progress. Like anything else, I’ve become more comfortable with it as I’ve learned to gear my life into the ebb and flow of GTD.

    David has said that it takes about two years to truly “get it”. Now, it’s always hard to define something like that. When I play basketball or tennis and I’m “in it”, that point you reach where you’re beyond conscious thought and things flow, I know I’m in it, but I couldn’t explain to someone else what "it" is. I imagine the same applies to all facets of life, for those times when your mind is truly like water, and your motions and progress becomes effortless.

    But for those that have gotten “it”, if you would like to take a crack at explaining to some extent, what do you notice about your GTD process from before and then after you “got it”?

    What are the things that use to hang you up that are now off your radar?

  • #2
    No self-repeating thoughts that are full of anxiety.

    Mind like water --> no self-repeating thoughts that are full of anxiety.

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    • #3
      2 minute rule -> less stuff backed up (MUCH less)

      Weekly review -> restores sanity!

      I started GTD in Feb, 2001.

      -steve

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      • #4
        Multi-tasking one thing at a time

        For me it is the ability to have a number of concurrent and very fast-moving projects but still being able to focus on one at a time in the knowledge that the rest are in the system

        Comment


        • #5
          I no longer feel the background anxiety I used to have. Problem is, I didn't realize I had that anxiety until I stopped feeling it.

          My responsibilities are now crystal clear to me. I don't worry that something is not getting done; I know if it is or not.

          I'm now much more free to focus on my larger life values and goals.

          Is that what you're looking for?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Brent View Post
            I no longer feel the background anxiety I used to have. Problem is, I didn't realize I had that anxiety until I stopped feeling it.

            My responsibilities are now crystal clear to me. I don't worry that something is not getting done; I know if it is or not.

            I'm now much more free to focus on my larger life values and goals.

            Is that what you're looking for?
            that's partially it. I think that I can already see the correlation between confidence in the system and anxiety about responsibilities. Getting kGTD going for me has made a big difference as I've started to respect the context in a different way. What I haven't tackled yet are the higher elevations (I haven't gotten the book yet and I'm assuming that's going to make a big impact on my perception) and it seems that evaluating the higher elevations are a big part to the mind like water.

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            • #7
              In the recent 43folders interview with David Allen, David says that, if he were to write another book, he'd write it about the 30,000-foot to 50,000-foot views. He says that the Getting Things Done book covers the groundwork solidly, but that people seem to struggle mostly with those higher elevations.

              I may be wrong, but I think that one needs to actually implement the system for a while before one can even see those higher elevations (or at least see more than glimpses). Your psychic RAM is too full to let you process any of that higher-elevation data, until your system has been chugging along enough for you to completely trust it.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Brent View Post
                I may be wrong, but I think that one needs to actually implement the system for a while before one can even see those higher elevations (or at least see more than glimpses). Your psychic RAM is too full to let you process any of that higher-elevation data, until your system has been chugging along enough for you to completely trust it.
                I think that's nonsense. Plenty of people who've never heard of GTD pay lots of attention to higher elevations. Methodologies like Franklin Covey place higher elevations (known in Franklin Covey-speak as Roles and Goals) front and center.

                Now, plenty of people get frustrated with Franklin Covey because, without control over the Runway level, it's impossible to actually make any progress at the higher levels. But then, plenty of people get frustrated with GTD because they feel it turns them into "widget crankers" with no greater purpose.

                Katherine

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                • #9
                  "It's possible for a person to have an overwhleming number of things to do and still function productively with a clear head and a positive sense of relaxed control." (GTD pg. 3)

                  This has been the difference for me.

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                  • #10
                    widgets

                    "Now, plenty of people get frustrated with Franklin Covey because, without control over the Runway level, it's impossible to actually make any progress at the higher levels. But then, plenty of people get frustrated with GTD because they feel it turns them into "widget crankers" with no greater purpose."

                    Katherine[/QUOTE]

                    Me. I am one of the people who starts feeling like a widget cranker and even when I finish the finish line, sometimes I am not even aware of it (I guess that's good in a way because it was so effortless) but I often miss the thrill, the payoff of wow I did that, yay. Other times I feel like I am cranking disembodied widgets, doing busy work. I definitely need more connection to a higher elevation--I do lose sight of what it's all about while I am buying new lampshades at Target for the two lamps on my desk here.
                    Also I am off at Target and really need to be at home putting in a good two hours on a lecture or a writing project, and the N/A for that can't really be get out 200 page manuscript and put in center of desk. Next N/A--go to Target for lampshades--size under "reminders" in Treo phone.

                    So many good things though, but I am just pointing out one of my pitfalls. Yeah I would like to see that book from David.

                    Katherine, I love your directness. V. refreshing.

                    Trish

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by kewms View Post
                      I think that's nonsense. Plenty of people who've never heard of GTD pay lots of attention to higher elevations. Methodologies like Franklin Covey place higher elevations (known in Franklin Covey-speak as Roles and Goals) front and center.

                      Now, plenty of people get frustrated with Franklin Covey because, without control over the Runway level, it's impossible to actually make any progress at the higher levels. But then, plenty of people get frustrated with GTD because they feel it turns them into "widget crankers" with no greater purpose.

                      Katherine
                      Okay, I don't know how long I've been doing GTD but I know it is at least a year. I am one who used to be very good at the higher elevation stuff. I had goals and knew what direction I wanted to go and all. But I did not achieve 99% of the goals I set. Even if I moved the date back, what I wanted to do simply never happened.

                      In came GTD and now I accomplish 99% of what I write down on my lists to do which has bolstered my self-confidence significantly.

                      In recent months, though, I have begun to consider, based on the things I write down and am actually accomplishing, if I'm really spending the time on the things I want to be doing. For instance, I managed to successfully plant and keep a garden weed-free as well as harvest things from it, thanks to GTD, but is gardening what I really like doing?

                      I imagine that over the course of the next year, now that I have a greater awareness of what I'm spending my time on, thanks to GTD, I will be making adjustments to my goals - deleting some, adding others - so that what I do on a daily basis is actually in line with the upper level stuff.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by gotbisco View Post
                        that's partially it. I think that I can already see the correlation between confidence in the system and anxiety about responsibilities. Getting kGTD going for me has made a big difference as I've started to respect the context in a different way. What I haven't tackled yet are the higher elevations (I haven't gotten the book yet and I'm assuming that's going to make a big impact on my perception) and it seems that evaluating the higher elevations are a big part to the mind like water.
                        You must get the book! There is no point in nibbling around the edges. Well, there probably is...but, go ahead and get the book! You can get a used copy for 5 or 6 bucks on eBay. Well worth it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I agree, the book is extremely valuable. However, it depends on what kind of learning style you have, when evaluating the 'best way' to learn GTD. I started GTD some time in the Winter of 2001, by stumbling on the book, and reading it. I have been at it ever since. I love reading, and love books, so it was a great way for me to start. My wife, on the other hand, doesn't really like reading, and learns better when she hears things ... so the GTD Fast CDs have been great for her. Personal coaching was the best for her.

                          I have also attended the Road Map seminar here in Boston, which is superb. I took about eight other staff people with me, and those that read the book were following along better than those that were new to the concepts. The few of us who had read the book, listen to the Fast CDs, and had some 'practice' under our belts, were especially tracking with the higher altitude stuff. (Although, I must admit, the fact that none of us were doing our Weekly Reviews weekly was probaly the biggest takeaway. I hate to admit that, since the Weekly Review is stressed so emphatically in all the GTD literature ... but it was something we all hadn't taken as seriously as we should. We felt so much more on top things than ever, that we didn't take the WR as it really is ... the moment of true GTD convergence.)

                          You can't get that kind of learning only out of a book, or a CD, or even personal coaching ... you only get that kind of learing out of actually doing, day in day out, week in week out, your own implementation of GTD, in real life. Then take your experience back to the book, or the CDs, or the seminar, or this site, or a GTD blog site, or whatever medium of learning you thrive in ... (I haven't tried Connect yet, but it seems intriguing to me).

                          Learning GTD is a lot like learning a foreign language (or a new sport). At first, it's very awkward and unnatural. You spend lots of time with flash cards, paradigms and stumbling through stuff you don't really 'get' yet. Some stuff comes fast and naturally, like "Donde el bano" ... I still remember that! But most of the language will only come by studying it, speaking it, trying it, making mistakes, learning through your mistakes, studying it, speaking it ... well, you get it. Ultimately, the best way to learn for most of us it is full immersion. I learned more Swahili in Tanzania itself, than my four months of 'studying' before I arrived. By the way, attending the Road Map seminar is bit like visiting the foreign country of DAland ... a full immersion into the language and culture of GTD. You learn a lot just being there and listening. Nothing beats 'doing' as the ultimate teacher. This, I think, is why DA says that it takes two years ... because the 'doing' has to be done. There is just no getting around it.

                          The problem with 'doing' as learning, is that we make a LOT of mistakes as we go, and nobody likes making mistakes. So, approach is, with GTD as well as other things we want to learn, is 'learn it' ... then do it. And we think 'learn it' means, basically, nail it, with only a few mistakes. Big mistakes means failure to us ... which means giving up, because, after all, the only thing worse than making mistakes, is making them so often that we feel like failures. Then we give up, and say something like, "I tried that, it didn't work."

                          Who wants to feel like a failure at yet another thing? Not me.

                          But you don't 'try' stuff like GTD, or Spanish, or Tennis, or whatever, in such a way that it works or not, pass or fail. You 'try' it in such a way that you find YOUR groove, your accent, your game. Then you do it, speak it, play it, whatever, as a life long learner, passing and failing along the way ... making mistakes and learning from them all along the way.

                          So, for me, after five plus years 'speaking' GTD, I feel like I'm just about fluent in it. At the same time, there are so many subtleties to it, that even being fluent, I know that there is so much to learn beyond the basics. I still pop the Fast CDs into the car and listen, and still learn new stuff. Even the 'old stuff' is new to me, because I have new 'doing' under my belt, which has me bringing new questions to even the most basic aspects of GTD (like, say, getting unstuck on projects or nas that have become stale on list, or numb to me).

                          I'm not sure if those reflections are helpful or not to others, but I figured I'd offer them anyway, because ... (and this is my last thought for this post) ... one key I have found in learning GTD, is that 'teaching' GTD to others, especially my teenagers, is actually another great way to learn. So, if anything, as self indulgent as it may sound ... I got something out of this post

                          Cheers

                          Chris

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                          • #14
                            My key distinctions on GTD

                            I've been using GTD a little over 2 years now and I'd say I'm probably right on the verge of "Getting It". I'm not quite black belt yet with this. At least not consistently, though I expect to get there before the end of next quarter. Here are some key distinctions that I've picked up and can share:

                            1. GTD is very much like an onion. Each of the distinctions I list below I've had at several levels. At each level there's been an increase in my ability to manage and manifest more results in my life and work. I expect that five years into GTD I will have had additional distinctions in these same areas that are even more profound than my current thinking.

                            2. Weekly Review is king. I must do a weekly review at least weekly. If you're not doing the weekly review, your not getting things done. And I mean that not in the sense of GTD as a system, I mean it in the sense of really not getting things done, or not accomplishing the results you need to accomplish. The weekly review is the difference between proactively producing results and reactively putting out fires.

                            Doing a weekly review has some pre-requisites. First you've got to do the processing to get IN to empty. For me that means blocking a minimum of 1 hour a day to process IN. For every day I don't get an hour to process, I'll need at least an extra hour to catch up. About once a month I have a trip to our corporate headquarters which means 1 full day of travel and often 4 days (and nights) of management meetings. (not optimal, but out of my control). That means when I get back I've got at least 5 hours of processing to catch up on... unless I get lucky and can work on the plane which seems to rarely happen any more. Without the block time to get IN to empty a weekly review isn't possible.

                            Second my major projects and objectives need additional planning outside the weekly review. When I have a major project, I need to spend significant time planning on that project outside the weekly review. I can't do my major project planning in one hour a week. I need to have already done it so that when I get to my weekly review, I'm simply making sure the project is on track, that I have next actions identified to move it forward, and if necessary brainstorm creative ideas to move the project forward faster.

                            Third, I find it's sometimes necessary to do a mini-mid-week review or mini-key-projects review mid-week in order to ensure that my top projects and objectives are moving forward. Remember, a weekly review is the minimum needed for GTD. You need to review your stuff as often as you need to and sometimes that's more often than once a week.

                            Finally, in order to do the weekly review, I must absolutely have an uninterrupted block of time (1 hour minimum, but I prefer 2 hours), have ample physical and mental energy, and be able to put myself in a state of positive creative flow.

                            3. Next Actions must be crankable widgets. For me, for example, that means my call lists must have the following information in my palm to do: Subject must be persons name and phone number. The person must be in my palm contact list (so I can use blue tooth to dial the number on my cell), or in my cell phone address book. The @call todo item body must have all relevant information I'll need regarding the call. Such as copies of any key reference info, due dates, deliverables, questions to ask, etc. If it's not crankable without thinking I'll resist doing it and it's not really a next action. I've got similar checklists for my other contexts. I find that next action context checklists are key to ingraining the habit of making sure your next actions are truely next physical actions and crankable widgets that won't require thought...

                            4. The project list is where real decisions must be made. When my boss comes to me with some additional work, I pull out the project list and ask: "I currently have these projects supporting our corporate goals and objectives; can you help me understand where this new project falls in priority related to this other work?" GTD forces us to realize that we must make decisions about what to do and perhaps more importantly what not to do. Without a complete, up-to-date, project list we can't even have this conversation. With it I have a tool that I can use to deflect those requests that come in that aren't in alignment with corporate goals and objectives.

                            The same can be said with my personal goals and objectives. If a project isn't in alignment with my personal or career goals/objectives then why am I doing it? It's a sign to renegotiate that committment and either delete the project all-together or at a minimum move it to someday/maybe.

                            The project list is where your daily activity connects to your higher altitudes. During my weekly review as I go through each project, I take a few seconds to identify with the higher level goals and objectives the project supports. If I can't find one, I either someday/maybe the project or delete it entirely.

                            Getting to the higher altitudes is something that can take a little more time. Achieving long term goals and objectives are a lot easier once you have the runway clear and working smoothly, but it can still be a challenge. It's still part of the system that I struggle with.

                            5. KISS, KISS, KISS. Lots of talk on the boards about how to implement GTD. My advice is keep it absolutely as simple as possible but no simpler. At Road Map David talked alot about linking next actions to projects, and a lot of people spend a lot of rainy saturdays tinkering with the existing tools to do that. Rainy saturdays are probably better applied toward your higher goals and objectives. If you're doing your weekly review, that linkage isn't really needed. Same is true with the higher altitudes. A plain vanilla palm implementation works exceptionally well. The more complex a system is the harder it is to maintain.

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                            • #15
                              Very good post, jpm: thanks!

                              Originally posted by jpm
                              I've got similar checklists for my other contexts. I find that next action context checklists are key to ingraining the habit of making sure your next actions are truely next physical actions and crankable widgets that won't require thought...
                              Wonder if you could and would want to share any of those other checklists.

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