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  • Starting GTD if you can't stop working

    Any thoughts on how to get up and running with GTD if at present your schedule doesn't permit any time for the initial stages of Collection and Processing? My company is in the midst of its busiest period of the year and will be for the next 1-2 months. I understand completely the value of pausing to collect, process and set up your buckets...but I won't be able to do that for 4-8 weeks without dire consequences to my business. Yet I must jump in and get started with GTD in some manner because I'm drowning in slips of paper with frantic To-Do lists jotted on both sides and I'm overwhelmed without any clear sense of what to do next. Is it possible to implement GTD in mid-air, so to speak? Your thoughts and practical tips would be very much appreciated.

  • #2
    Please read Lisa Peake's article on Emergeny GTD at
    http://www.lisapeake.org/archives/37-Emergency-GTD.html

    Maybe this is the way for you to go for the next two months.

    Rainer

    Comment


    • #3
      I would add that you should first ask yourself "Why" you need GTD. Define successful outcome and deadline for that project. Then compare it's priority in relation to all your activities (at work and at home). If you find that it's somewhere in the first 20% I'd suggest that you block out 2 hours of your work or home time and start that project with a collection phase.

      Comment


      • #4
        Here's how I would do it... your mileage may vary; yada, yada, yada...

        WEEK 1 - About 15-30 minutes per day
        ---------
        I would start with "Collect". Don't worry about processing for now. Just start a list -- get yourself a new notebook and start listing your commitments. All of them. Anything that you have to (or want to) do, just write it down.

        You can do this in short bursts -- while you're waiting for your food at a restaurant, while you are waiting for others to arrive to a meeting, during commercial breaks during your favorite TV show, while you wait for a bowl of soup to heat in the microwave, etc...

        Don't worry about capturing duplicates; that will happen. Better to capture something twice, than to miss it altogether.


        WEEK 2 - about an hour on day 1, then 30 minutes per day thereafter
        ----------
        If you have been writing down everything that has your attention for the past week, you should have about 90% of your commitments captured -- by this point, you may have even completed some of them. Cross the completed stuff off your list.

        Now, take the list and label it "Someday/Maybe". You have just created your first GTD list.

        Next, pick the most important/urgent/critical things from the list... the ones that MUST be acted upon this week. Write these on a new list called "Projects", and remove them from the "Someday/Maybe" list.

        For the remainder of the week focus mostly/only on the items in your "Projects" list. Anything new that comes in, write it on a separate sheet of paper labeled "Inbox", and at the end of the day, decide for each item on the Inbox list, "Do I need to focus on this during the remainder of the week?" If so, write it on the "Projects" list. If not, write it on the "Someday/Maybe" list. If it is not actionable at all, then file it away as reference material. Then, throw away the "Inbox" list -- you will create a new one tomorrow.

        Review the "Projects" list every morning, and formulate an action plan for the day. Review again at noon, and adjust your plan as necessary. Then just before you leave for the day, review it one more time and formulate a plan for the next day. If there are certain items on the "Projects" list that somehow elusive, not really moving forward despite your best efforts, then apply the "Next Action" technique as described in the book.

        WEEK 3
        ---------
        Repeat WEEK 2



        This is a very light GTD implementation. It does not address some of the more powerful concepts (the most powerful, in my view, being the use of Next Actions and Contexts), but it should help manage the chaos at least a little bit. And it will make the initial days of a "proper" GTD implementation a little easier since you will have already captured a significant percentage of your "open loops".

        In fact, the simple act of just writing down all of your commitments may give you enough of a feeling of control that you might actually find time to do a full-blown implementation sooner than you had anticipated.

        I hope this helps.

        Comment


        • #5
          IF you can, devote a weekend to it, early days, or after work. That way you can shut the door (if you have one) and focus entirely on setting up.

          Comment


          • #6
            Possible, but not reliable (at the beginning, at least)

            Originally posted by Janezo View Post
            Is it possible to implement GTD in mid-air, so to speak? Your thoughts and practical tips would be very much appreciated.
            It is possible - after all, collecting and processing "stuff" during the GTD bootstrapping phase is not that different, in principle, from what you do on a regular base, once you've established GTD in your life.

            The key difference however is: since you're not dumping everything into a big box at the start, the resulting system (project list, context lists, other lists, reference material, ...) will be incomplete and therefore not reliable. You'll worry about what is already "in" and what may still be "somewhere".

            If your projects are both short-lived an numerous, the system will become reliable quickly. Ask yourself whether it's acceptable to you to use GTD and your old system in parallel, for a while and to handle all new stuff in your GTD system only.

            Personally, I'd rather suggest that you set aside a few hours and do the initial collecting & processing as it is meant to be. If you're working 24x7, that might be hard, of course. Under pressure of time, make sure you've got all office supplies in place before you start - don't end up with ordered piles of materials with no means to stow them away. If you lack the time to buy them yourself, delegate shopping or order them online.

            Good luck!
            Rolf

            Comment


            • #7
              GTD while under fire.

              Originally posted by Rolf F. Katzenberger View Post

              The key difference however is: since you're not dumping everything into a big box at the start, the resulting system (project list, context lists, other lists, reference material, ...) will be incomplete and therefore not reliable. You'll worry about what is already "in" and what may still be "somewhere".
              Some times this incomplete processing is neccessary. You can take the time to put your project list and context lists together then list your process areas as projects. The next action is to block aside calendar time to work on those areas.

              Examples:
              Projects
              • Process Inbox - Desired outcome: inbox is empty
              • Process File Cabinet - Desired outcome: file cabinet is seperated into project support material and reference material
              • Set up work area - Desired outcome: Everything I need is within reach and their are clean and crisp edges to all areas of my work.
              @office
              • Calendar 15 minutes a day to process items in inbox. RE: Process Inbox
              • Calendar 15 minutes a day to process items in file cabinet RE: Process File Cabinet
              @errands
              • Buy a label maker RE: Set up work area

              This isn't the most optimal way to get into GTD because you brain isn't clear before you get your system setup, but for some environments and schedules it is the only way to get around it and shouldn't disourage you from setting it up.

              Here is a quick and easy approach when you don't have time to get it all set up in a couple of days:
              1. Project list - List of desired outcomes that is more then 1 next action
              2. Context lists - Lists of next actions organized by where you will be.
              3. Someday maybe list - List of projects that aren't a priority this week. You can review this list during your weekly review or monthly.
              4. Weekly review.
              5. Write down all thoughts onto individual pages or index cards and dump them in your inbox.
              6. Verify that you have a next action set in at least one context for all your projects and dump any projects into someday maybe that you don't need to focus on.
              7. Verify that all items on someday maybe need to be there and move anything into projects that is worthwhile.
              8. Grab a piece of paper and give yourself permission to write every crazy idea you can think of down on individual sheets. Dump them into your inbox.

              Hope all this helps, I have been in this situation before, if you need any help feel free to private message me, I can give you my e-mail and/or number and we can schedule a time to chat about it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by 12hourhalfday View Post
                Hope all this helps, I have been in this situation before, if you need any help feel free to private message me, I can give you my e-mail and/or number and we can schedule a time to chat about it.
                Hi there!

                I just stumbled upon this thread... and I think it is really informative what you've
                said already. And I would appreciate if you would keep upcoming posts publicly
                accessable, because it helps many people to implement GTD in times when they
                think they need it the most but can't afford the time for the implementation.

                -wbc

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by wbc View Post
                  Hi there!

                  I just stumbled upon this thread... and I think it is really informative what you've
                  said already. And I would appreciate if you would keep upcoming posts publicly
                  accessable, because it helps many people to implement GTD in times when they
                  think they need it the most but can't afford the time for the implementation.

                  -wbc
                  I think we should discuss it further but if anyone would like to discuss it over the phone we could schedule a bridge and discuss it together. I think it would be a cool topic to throw ideas around on.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by wbc View Post
                    Hi there!

                    I just stumbled upon this thread... and I think it is really informative what you've
                    said already.-wbc
                    Any questions? How could we take this discussion further?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      teleconference on this topic?

                      Anyone interested in having a teleconference on this topic? I got one reply so far, I would like to have a few people on the call for input.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'm interested. I live on the East Coast of the United States, but will be out of town through Sunday.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Conference Call for discussion on GTD while at work.

                          The Conference Call is set up.

                          Dial-In #: 1-712-432-3000
                          Bridge: 847738

                          How does Wednesday 2/6 at 13:00 PST (15:00 CST/16:00EST) work for everyone?
                          Last edited by 12hourhalfday; 02-01-2008, 01:05 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If 13:00 PST is the same as 10:00 am Eastern time, it works for me.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Janezo View Post
                              If 13:00 PST is the same as 10:00 am Eastern time, it works for me.
                              Actually it is 16:00 EST

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