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Newbie - Just read book, how do I implement with my tools/resources?

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  • Newbie - Just read book, how do I implement with my tools/resources?

    Ladies and gents, I'm fully committed to do a complete and comprehensive implementation of the GTD process for my work-flow. I've got so much to do in life, and so many goals, with so little time it seems. I just finished reading the book, and I've already promoted it and sold several of my friends, my parents, and my girlfriend on the concept, because I'm so stinking excited about it!

    Now my question is this: With my resources and tools, how do I implement the GTD system?

    I'd like to lay out my time and how it's spent, followed by the tools and tech I have at my disposal.

    I have an 8-5 job at Aegon, which is a huge financial industry company - I work with annuities. The environment is cubicle city. There are about 1500 cubicles per floor of the giant, two-story building. I work on a computer all day that has limited and monitored internet access. We're technically never allowed to be on the internet, aside from lunch. Nor are we allowed to have our cell phones out - even to check a text message! Both of these are rules I break on a semi-regular basis, but I do so with tasteful subtlety.

    After my job, and on weekends, I'm in my car 50% of the time, going from appointment to appointment, state to state. I use the time to listen to professional development CD's, make phone calls, and admittedly, read a book when there's no traffic and it's sunny out.

    The rest of the time I'm home, currently living with my parents, but just for the next 6 months. My room is my only safe haven, but I'm a naturally messy person so it keeps getting very messy - that was before implementing this system, though!

    As far as tools goes, I have a new (aluminum) Macbook. This gets used daily, but it's another thing I can't pull out during my workday (except during lunch). I usually catch up with Google Reader on the Macbook at the end of the day.

    I also have a Blackberry 8310 (Curve) with unlimited phone/data/text (though no tethering capability). I use it for email, but not for a to-do list (though I am open to it).

    I love Moleskine's, and doing a google search for Moleskine enthusiast pages is actually how I found GTD, as many people use them for GTD tracking. I love this idea, but I don't necessarily see the scalability of that...

    I do a lot of contact/relationship tracking and management, though I don't necessarily use a specific tool for that.

    Okay, so there you have it. What would you use for what? I'd like to implement this early this week, because frankly I have a ton of stuff to do, and no time to do it in, so this can't wait.

    Thank you!!

    -Evan

  • #2
    re: Where to Start?

    Start out with this "Prune Your System" list to cut out things on the front-end that really don't need to be in your system.

    There are two places to start with GTD:
    (1) Your Space
    (2) Your Thoughts

    You have to start with space because in order to process your thoughts you have to have places to store them. A-Z filing system (cardboard boxes with hanging folders will suffice if you don't have filing cabinets), an Inbox (the lid of a cardboard box will suffice if you don't have one), some manila folders, a labeler. Get the space and "containers" setup first.

    Next, collect, collect, collect. Do a complete mind sweep of everything on your mind. Start with your space for anything that still needs work: e.g., why is that pile over there? do I need a shredder? can I reach my files quickly? what can I get rid of in here? etc. Then keep collecting everything you can. Don't stop until you can't think of anything else anymore. Everything you collect goes into your Inbox.

    Then take a break. Day Two, wake up and start processing your inbox based on DA's questions: What is it? Is it actionable? Less than two minutes? etc.

    That should get you started. But start with space. Don't get caught up in tools and gadgets until you've taken care of your space. It'll save you a lot of time and it will also teach you the process using physical files so you can better judge the quality of any tools, gadgets, or software you may choose to use in the future.

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited by Todd V; 08-08-2012, 02:07 PM.

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    • #3
      I also suggest you download all of the free articles and use them to support your GTD activities like setting up your personal workspace and setting up a system. They are good 1-3 page references that will re-trigger things that you read in the book.

      Most people recommend you start with a paper-based organizer for reasons of simplicity. It's easy to transfer over to a digital system later.

      Above all, be patient with yourself and focus on one habit at a time, starting with collecting. If you don't get that habit down, it undermines all of the others. Get all the capture tools you need (but as few as you can get by with) and NEVER, EVER file anything in your head, no matter how simple, stupid or self-evident the thought might seem when it first shows up. Get it out of your head and into your inbasket. Judge the thought when you PROCESS it out of your inbasket, not when it first comes to you. Some of those "dumb" ideas could be real winners once you really think about them.

      The hardest part about GTD is the habit changes and sticking with them, but once you get them it's hard to imagine life without those habits.

      Best of luck and welcome to GTD!

      Luke

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      • #4
        I want to echo Todd's suggestions. Don't think about tools yet; think about processing that huge inbox currently called "your room."

        That said, you will need some place to build your initial lists of Projects, Next Actions, etc. as you process all that stuff. I recommend you try using text files your MacBook for that, as you'll be able to build your lists quickly and easily. You can always move to paper or another system later.

        Though, of course, if you feel more comfortable with paper or something else, by all means use that.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Brent View Post
          I want to echo Todd's suggestions. Don't think about tools yet; think about processing that huge inbox currently called "your room."

          That said, you will need some place to build your initial lists of Projects, Next Actions, etc. as you process all that stuff. I recommend you try using text files your MacBook for that, as you'll be able to build your lists quickly and easily. You can always move to paper or another system later.

          Though, of course, if you feel more comfortable with paper or something else, by all means use that.
          Let me echo Todd and Brent in saying that it's not the tool, but the approach to that tool that matters. I believe it can be said that you can do GTD with nearly anything and make it work. Considering your limitations in when you can use your laptop, you might consider going paper. I've heard many an admonition that beginning GTDers should start with paper. Then, when they have the methodology down, move to a more sophisticated tool. For me, I started electronic and tried to get to an all-electronic approach. Being a visual and kinetic person, though, I kept feeling like I couldn't get my arms around everything, even doing religious weekly reviews. So, I "went back to" paper and have not regretted it yet. I would highly recommend it. It gives me much more flexibility to build my tool the way exactly the way I want without being constrained by how a developer thought GTD should be implemented. More importantly, I can see and touch all my projects and have a real feel for my workload, NAs, Someday/Maybe's, etc. I could go on and recommend DA's GTD Coordinator, but, again, it's not the tool, but the methodology. You could just as easily go to diyplanner.com and put one together totally on your own.

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          • #6
            Alright, I've taken all the advice on here and put it to the following system. Please critique and comment! Thanks so much for your help!

            http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthread.php?t=9500

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            • #7
              The way I do it...

              I was half way through the book and downloaded things like Outlook Track-It, which is a plugin for Outlook 2007 to flag emails for followup reminders. Anything that increases office productivity is included. My personal goal is to find great addons like this and make emailing easier. Lord knows I have a ton of it!

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