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Getting to grips with the GTD system (a few questions)...

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  • Getting to grips with the GTD system (a few questions)...

    Hi guys,

    Been bouncing on and off the GTD bandwagon lately (I haven't quite got to grips with it yet, but hopefully will soon!). I've got a few questions which have going around in my mind lately. I'd appreciate any help anyone can give.

    First of all, when you do your weekly review how do you know how many actions for each project to add to the next action list? Do you add one at a time and then simply cross it out and write the next action once you've completed it? Or do you add a bunch of next actions from each project to carry out during the week??

    Also, what do you do about single actions (next actions unrelated to projects) which you want to do but not right now? Should these really go in your Next Action list if it's not something that should be done right away? Am I correct assuming that the Someday/Maybe list is for storing projects only which you want to get to in the future?

    One other thing... how long did it take you get to grips with GTD and be able to get things done without worrying about the how to manage the workflow as you are when trying to implement the GTD system initially.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can answer any of my questions!

    Cheers,
    Zahid

  • #2
    I work through Projects just like reading books. I decide to do or schedule some reading and place a bookmark when I leave off. A book has all future activities contained within it, so I don't have to note future steps (although when I was young, I could never resist reading the ending early). A Project may also not need anything more than a Bookmark (where I will start again next time) if I roughly know the future steps. Occasionally, for a big Project I might want to create some Project Support planning notes to keep me on track. Short answer - usually only the immediate Next Action need be noted.

    I treat single actions in the same way as Projects. If they are in my "Current" time horizon, they are Next Actions (single step - no bookmark needed unless I don't actually finish it in one session); if beyond Current, they are Someday/Maybe. Your definition of "Current" is up to you. I generally work with shorter lists encompassing 1-2 weeks. Some people may include in Current anything they will do some work on within the next 60-90 days. I just like to keep my Next Action list shorter to reduce my ongoing Review time, since I know I am going to be looking at all the rest of the stuff in Someday/Maybe during the weekly review anyway.

    HTH

    Andrew

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    • #3
      I'm still implementing GTD, but here's my two cents, FWIW:
      First of all, when you do your weekly review how do you know how many actions for each project to add to the next action list? Do you add one at a time and then simply cross it out and write the next action once you've completed it? Or do you add a bunch of next actions from each project to carry out during the week??
      My answer is, it depends. For some projects, I only add one next action at a time, particularly if the project is less urgent or if the actions must be done sequentially. For other projects, I'll add several, especially if each action will only take a few moments. I use ShadowPlan on my PDA to manage my projects, and Palm's ToDo application for my next actions, so it's not hard to add a new action to my to-do list.

      Each project has actions associated with it, although for some projects it's just one at the moment. Some projects are more easily defined up front. Regardless, the actions themselves are very fluid.
      Also, what do you do about single actions (next actions unrelated to projects) which you want to do but not right now? Should these really go in your Next Action list if it's not something that should be done right away? Am I correct assuming that the Someday/Maybe list is for storing projects only which you want to get to in the future?
      My Someday/Maybe list contains anything that falls into that category - project or single action. If, during my weekly review, I move something from Someday/Maybe to my current lists, at that point I decide where it belongs.

      HTH!

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks guys for your responses!

        I'd appreciate if anyone else can throw in their 2 cents. I'm especially interested in how long it took everyone to fully adapt to the GTD way of life!

        Cheers!

        Comment


        • #5
          Anyone?

          Comment


          • #6
            I add ANY actions that I can do straight away when I am in the right context. That is, actions which don't depend on me doing some other action first.

            If I don't want to do an action straight away, I might still put it on a next action list in the right context, or in the someday/maybe, or in a tickler file or put a note in the calendar to think about later. Depends on why I don't want to do it right now. Or I might just ignore it and leave it to my next weekly review.

            Still struggling with this stuff after 18 months, though.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Zahid

              I'd appreciate if anyone else can throw in their 2 cents. I'm especially interested in how long it took everyone to fully adapt to the GTD way of life!

              Cheers!

              I've heard it said somewhere that it can (not always ) take a person 1-3 years to fully implement the methodology into their life.

              when you think about it --you are re-training yourself to think differently etc. and the GTD system affects your whole life --so it makes sense.

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              • #8
                How Long Does It Take?

                It takes 2-3 days to set up the system. Resistance to its simplicity, refusing to part with systems, concepts and tools that have previously failed, tinkering with new tools and ideas gleaned from discussion lists - this mindset can last years.

                If it's any help, a few months into GtD, and while I was still experimenting with different tools, quite a few people started commenting on how well organized I was. I knew very well how unorganized I was. Later I realized that knowing how unorganized I was, and in what respects, meant I really did have a usable system!

                Andrew

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                • #9
                  It took me about 30 hours at work and 120 hours at home to set it up.
                  Most of the time was consumed by setting up a usable filing system at home.

                  Rainer

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                  • #10
                    It took me 2 long days (12-13 hours each) to set it up at home and probably the same amount of time to set it up at work, but spaced out over 2 weeks of evenings.

                    I tend to agree with Paul that it can take 1-3 years to fully integrate it. I've been at it for 6 months. You can establish and start relying on a physical or mental system fairly quickly. But it takes much longer to train yourself to automatically perform the steps. Whenever someone drops something in my inbox at work, I fight the urge to grab it, read it, and drop it back in my inbox to deal with later. Taking the time and mental energy to really process something, or really apply an outcome-to-action thought process to it is tough to learn. When it happens, it's worth it, though.

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                    • #11
                      thank you, thank you

                      I cannot tell you how relieved I was when I read Brian's note about it taking 1-3 years to integrate.

                      I first learned of GTD in the summer of '02 and tried to implement -- even if half heartedly. In the begining of '03 I introduced to my DH and just now are we finally on our way to getting GTD implemented at home and work(s). We are not "THERE" yet, but we are making great inroads. A few of my biggest failings 1) thinking of things and NOT writing them down 2) not fully using /committing to the system 3)not sure I fully get some items.......but I keep trying and I do feel good about progress even if it is slow. Things did not get the way they are in a day or week, but over several years so I cannot expect to change them overnight. So, I keep going!

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                      • #12
                        Just wanted to thank all of you for your great posts. I look forward to spending more time in this forum soon (once I've got myself all organised! )

                        Cheers,
                        Zahid

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          how long did it take?

                          Zahid
                          I first read the book about 15 months ago and fell in love with the ideology. I was convinced I would take it all on board and be transformed immediately!! Like others I was then tempted to experiment and try bigger and better 'tools' or 'systems' as you like to call them. I changed from the alpha filing system to a papertiger type because i was convinced it would be faster and better suited. I decided to go from the jan-dec 1-31 tickler system to a hold all tickler system for each person in the family because we were now all so tech savvy 'electronic'...
                          I was all over the place I have to admit. Wanting to be 'perfect' etc.
                          Anyway I had some serious life issues arise and unfortunately I have to admit that I was not 'Ready for Anything'. My stepmother who I was close to became very ill and died. I was hospitalised 4 times in 3 months. Chaos erupted. It was a wonder our family dog survived let alone learned how to mix a decent margarita
                          Anyhow... after a nice holiday and subsequently listening completely to the GTD Fast Cd's and reading 'Ready for Anything' and also listening to the CD's while driving from client to client .. I can now say that I"m ready to get back on track. I have listened and evaluated to each of those CD's like I was in that seminar room and I have to say they are brilliant. What I wouldn't give for Mr Allen to come to Australia! I'm even tempted to visit the UK in May just to experience it for myself.
                          I am in the technology coaching business myself and a sole operator. I have clients who NEED this stuff more than they need cereal in the mornings. I am slowly turning into the walking advertisement for GTD and I now completely unashamedly TRUST everything that DA says with regards to any of it... I put my tail between my legs and reinvented my tickler and it works even BETTER this time.. why did I change??? ... I even spent a few hours relabelling my manilla files and going back to the alpha reference filing system. I am using to the full extent the GTD add-in... and you know what? Even though I have not perfected this system YET... what is amazing is that it seems to be easy to get back on the rails if you fall off.... and if that is not the test of a good system I don't know what is... I mean how many self help/productivity books have we read and loved and then said 'this is for me'... and then a few months the content is completely forgotten? I feel this is not the path of GTD. Once you've read and understood it you seem to go try it.... but then it takes a few more readings or listenings in my case before you really truly GET IT.... and then I think after that there is huge progress to make.
                          Good luck with this Zahid... read, absorb, try, read again, try again... and see what happens... I think you will realise that Mr Allen is the guy who's been out there and done all the possible 'testing' there is... and while it's possible to tweak the system to a certain degree in order to personalise... you will eventually realise that the 'bones' of it are totally brilliant and life saving!!!

                          HTH....

                          Helen

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                          • #14
                            Thanks Helen, another great reply!

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                            • #15
                              Adding next actions

                              I've been using GTD for almost two years now. Over time, I've found that both my project list and next action lists have gotten smaller. First of all, I'm much more in control of my workflow. When you're way behind on your commitments, you have lots more next actions that are undone. My active project list got smaller as I focused my actions down to what I could really do.

                              I think that one of the parts of David's system that tends to go unrecognized is that the system allows you to manage commitments much better by knowing what is on your plate and having instant access to the reference materials to do tasks. I used to spend huge amounts of time looking for materials, notes and reconstructing what I owed people.

                              It's a lot like climbing out of a hole and then gaining some perspective. I now do much less multitasking, focusing on deliverables one at a time. I keep a separate "focus list" of the three or four deliverables that my boss or team will use to judge my productivity.

                              It's important to look on this as an ongoing process of improvement. I'm now working on my notetaking and capturing of others commitments as well as my own.

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