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How to begin?

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  • How to begin?

    Hi there!

    I'm new to GTD. I've read the book, checked out the hipster PDA system, put thought in to what system would work best for me and decided I'm going with a paper-based system, namely the GTD Coordinator.

    My email is in Lotus Notes and I currently have 820 unread messages.

    My office is filled with stacks of paper, no sense to the piles other than there is one in the middle of my desk of things that are urgent.

    Obviously I need to make changes. My problem is: What should I do right now? I am paralyzed when I think of all I need to do that I can't even begin.

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Ah, the urgent pile

    Ah, the urgent pile. I remember it well. It'll be nice to get THAT off your mind, won't it?

    When I started, the single biggest source of anxiety for me was the volume of e-mail in my inboxes, so that's what I turned my attention to first. I ruthlessly purged by deleting, tagging, and filing until I got to zero for both my personal and business inboxes. Then I wept with relief. It took a couple of hours a day for about a week.

    Then I turned my attention to the piles, starting with the one closest to my computer and working outward from there, like shockwaves from a hydrogen bomb.


    • #3
      It may help to write down each overwhelming aspect of your current system and treat each item as a project or at least a next action. Break down the 'piles' to actions such as 'sort 1 pile'. Another action could be 'sort 10 emails'. Don't try to do them all at once. Then review this list of next actions when you have the time and desire.


      • #4
        I suggest you spend a little time space-clearing your desk and preparing it for use as a workflow processing station. It's important to establish a little island of sanity in a sea of chaos. Clear those papers off your desk into an inbasket or into a storage box temporarily and clean your desk. Then get whatever office supplies you need for processing and filing. It's difficult to get started on processing when your desk is messy and out of control.

        If you're too anxious about your e-mail to clear your desk now, you could attack your e-mails first. But before you attack your paper, you need to have the space set up for processing and organizing.

        Good luck and welcome to GTD.

        - Luke


        • #5
          We're all pulling for you as you make the leap and work through those piles. it wil happen for you, too, as it did with all of us. Just be patient and stay at it until it's done. The rewards are great!


          • #6
            Wow thanks everyone! I have cleared a space on my desk and am alternating between deleting and filing emails (about 15 at a time) and tossing paper. I think if I can do this for a few hours each day this week I'll at least have a good starting point.


            • #7

              I agree with the comments above. And alternating will help you knock out a lot of stuff and still make headway in several different areas each day.



              • #8
                I definitely agree with starting with e-mail. Been into GTD since the beginning of the year, roughly, and I started out by emptying all the crud that'd been piling in my inbox for years (I'm an e-packrat, didn't even archive or delete stuff after reading it).

                That was months ago, and now when I check my e-mail every day, I still give myself a little smile when my inbox is completely empty.

                I'm glad you mentioned clearing a space on your desk. That's actually what I was going to mention doing next. It goes with the mind-like-water theme; clear your mind, clear your desk, and get to doing. As a guideline, I try to remember to keep that area clear of everything that isn't one of the four unprocessables: supplies, reference materials, decoration, and equipment. And even then, in my humble opinion, I prefer to keep those things to a bare minimum (I have a lamp and a pen on my desk, everything else has its own little place on the floor). If I want to work efficiently, I know I have to start with a clear space, and I think that's true of plenty of people.