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  • Convincing ADD boss to try GTD?

    I bought GTD a couple of months ago and have been steadily moving forward with utilizing the system (clearing the inboxes continually, making next-action lists, etc.). I was so excited about what I was learning and getting accomplished (I NEVER thought I'd get through that entire inbox!) that I bought my boss (whom several of us have amateur-ly diagnosed as ADD) a copy for Christmas (he honestly seemed pleased). (I've also perused 43folders.com and implemented the basic levels of Michael Linenberger's Total Workday Control/Manage Your Now! system, which is very GTD-compatible.)

    I certainly don't have any intentions of forcing this on him (wouldn't work anyway, I know), but I'd like to incorporate some GTD-like elements into my daily interactions with him. I think he suffers from an extreme case of "I'm carrying too much stuff around in my head," and I can tell it makes him crazy. And, of course, we all know about "stuff" rolling downhill.

    Help a would-be evangelist! Any suggestions?

  • #2
    Just using the system well yourself can be amazingly effective at getting others to start doing it. When your boss witnesses you writing everything down, being 100% current on your e-mail, and asking "what's the next action" in meetings, he's going to start getting curious. I was one of the lowest on the totem pole in my old office in terms of reporting, but I still managed to get the director of the program to start using bits and pieces of GTD. I was constantly talking about my next actions (and referring to them as such), having a current list of agenda items for her every time she and I had the opportunity to talk, and mentioning the stakes I had in the ground via my tickler file and waiting for lists. Be a good ambassador, and he'll want you to teach him how to do it, too.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by daphnechick View Post
      I think he suffers from an extreme case of "I'm carrying too much stuff around in my head," and I can tell it makes him crazy. And, of course, we all know about "stuff" rolling downhill.
      I think modeling GTD for him would work

      The next time he asks you to do something, you might make a big show of taking out your ubiquitous capture system, and writing down the item saying something like "I feel so much more relaxed when I write stuff down".

      - Don

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      • #4
        Baby steps ...

        Yeah, I think I'll start with the "what's the next action" question in each task-oriented conversation. We've already had some problems with clarity in instructions (he says one thing, I try to read between the lines and interpret the next action, he tells me - after the fact - that's not what he had in mind), so that will help solve one problem.

        One thing I need to do is clean his office (and, yes, I have permission to do that!). He's surrounded by too much potential "meaning" - piles and piles of papers on desk, credenza, tops of file cabinets, and even the floor - which I think is a big part of his stress, particularly given his high "distractability quotient" with his [alleged] ADD. He asked me recently what I thought about all the "stuff" in his office, and I said, "well, if it doesn't have an action associated with it, I'd say it needs to go in the file rather than sit in here." His response: "Hmmm."

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        • #5
          What a great opportunity! You're lucky to work with such an open boss.

          In addition to prompting him about the Next Action, you can also prompt him to write things down. If he mentions an idea or something that needs to be done, say, "Great! Can you write that down?" When he writes it down, ask him what he's going to do with the paper. Prompt him to put it in his inbox.

          If he does suffer from keeping too much in his head, that should help him considerably. He needs to get in the habit of getting stuff out of his head and into his system.

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          • #6
            I like the idea of asking "What's the next action" during work conversations/meetings. I'll have to try that. I wish everyone in my office would do GTD...Everyone's always stressed out talking about how overwhelmed they are. I have started sending weekly emails following up on things on my Waiting For list. I'm waiting for someone to ask me what is a "waiting for" list. I guess they don't really care...They probably think I don't have enough work to do.

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            • #7
              toss a copy of GTD into his in basket when no one is looking??

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              • #8
                Originally posted by dschaffner View Post
                I think modeling GTD for him would work

                The next time he asks you to do something, you might make a big show of taking out your ubiquitous capture system, and writing down the item saying something like "I feel so much more relaxed when I write stuff down".

                - Don
                Great Don! I'd add only some silence, after this......

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                • #9
                  Although I understand where you are coming from and have had similar thoughts myself, I really don't care what system anybody else uses, nor do I feel that it is my responsibility to direct anybody in any particular direction unless they ask. If you have everything lined up for yourself, tracking interactions with your boss through the appropriate channels that is pretty much all that you can realistically hope for.

                  Productivity systems are inherently personal in nature and it probably would be better to offer advice on such matters when asked, from my experience.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Terry B. View Post
                    I really don't care what system anybody else uses.
                    Interesting. Personally, I definitely care how effective my boss is at getting work done, considering the strength of my boss's impact on my life.

                    That said, encouraging another's productivity does take a very delicate touch. One's boss is one's boss, and bosses have power over their staff. You have to start with the understanding that your boss may never change, and that that is his or her decision alone.

                    However, that doesn't mean that bosses never change. When's the best opportunity to encourage a boss? Depends on the boss's personality. My last boss was very open to suggestions at any time, and the point of failure was often the best time to recommend a change. For others, that would've been the worst time.

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