GTD is not a goal. GTD is just a tool - a very powerful tool.
1. Super important point. GTD is to help you get the stuff done, not a goal in itself.
2. David's response to someone asking for GTD for dummies in GTD times is also helpful:
"it’s as simple as:
Write it down
Decide what’s next about it [i.e. what does doing look like]
Park that somewhere you’ll trust you’ll look at as a reminder
Keep your head empty and your list(s) current"
3. Decide what it is i.e. what does done look like i.e. how will you know when your project is done.
4. Don't be afraid to customize/eliminate parts of GTD to suit your individual needs e.g. different (or no) contexts, creating brief list of priority items for a given day, not using a tickler file system if you're a visual persion, etc.
re: Advice to the Novice from GTDer with more than 4 years experience
1. Weekly Review, Weekly Review, Weekly Review. Absolutely the most important habit you can master.
2. Revisit the book often. Get the audiobook, listen to podcasts. You'll hear and understand new things as your life and circumstances change, and as you get more proficient at certain habits.
3. Avoid the vortex of "digital tools" that entice you with the thought that everything could be done for you. For collection, stick with 3x5 cards and maybe a stack of blank 8x11 paper by your inbox. Nothing is as fast as pen and paper for collection. Nothing. And try to limit yourself to only one idea per card or page to make them easier to process and review.
4. Take some time learning how to get clear on projects. This one took me the longest to learn, and I truly underestimated how much I thought I knew about this. Read this section of the book over and over again.
I've also accumulated a number of resources over the years as I've learned lessons the hard way. You can find them here. I'd suggest downloading the Prune Your System and Why Actionables Linger checklists. There is also a Quicktime tutorial explaining how to juggle the GTD Habits here.
1. GTD is a habit and a process, don't obsess over finding the perfect software to do your work for you. If the habit and process isn't in place, software isn't going to make it better.
2. Ditto on the Weekly Review. It's the key habit to pick up and is core to any GTD'er's system.
3. Be open to the idea that you may need to change how you manage your GTD process. As you learn more about how you work and think (and you will), be ready to see there may be a point where when you need to adjust how you do things.
4. Having 90% of your actions written down does not get you a 90% return on your efforts. If you thought about it once, put 'it' down somewhere you will capture it onto your lists.
5. Take time to go back to the beginning steps once in a while, like a mindsweep. Sometimes even the pro's need to sit down and just dump out everything to make sure it's all really out of their mind. And if they say they don't, they're lying to ya!
Last edited by jason.verly; 07-26-2010, 09:22 AM.
Thanks Scott for "not using a tickler file system if you're a visual persion"
Any suggestions on that, because I've realized I'm much more tactile (thinking of going back to paper from digital, again) and visual (digital looks too 'flat', it bores me and I ignore it).
I can't help with the tactile part, but...
FOR THE VISUAL PEOPLE:
--While you can learn to use a PDA/smartphone (I did for many years) it takes work and is going against the grain.
***If you do not see something it does not exist***
so unless there is an inner prompting e.g. I need underwear so I'll look in the drawer, things you put away you may never see again.
--*Don't put anything in drawers aside from supplies and reference.*
--Don't use a smart phone/PDA. Stick to paper.
--Take the doors off your closets (seriously).
--Develop routines so you check all your lists in your paper system.
--Do not even think of using a tickler file. There are other ways around it (see prior threads).
These insights came from a professional organizer named Sylvia Jesse and her book might be worth it. Amazon has it.
Listed in order of popping into my head, not priority
1) If you ever say "that was today???" again, you are not reviewing enough. Review more. Review as if you were trying to memorize your lines.
2) Unless you are naked or underwater, have pen and paper no further away than your pocket. There is no excuse not to be able to capture the next great idea.
3) Remember, you only have to maintain lists and folders. That's what it all boils down to. You can be more effective than 99% of GTD'ers with a clipboard and a pencil.
4) Spend more time deciding what to do and less time cramming stuff into your day.
5) Reread GTD every month. Or listen to it. Or read Making It All Work. Or listen to it. Constantly be re-listening to the information. There are at least 100 reads' worth of information in each.
6) Find a pen you love writing with, and have it on your person at all times.
7) It takes longer to process your Inbox properly than you think. Expect an hour a day. In fact, set it aside. If you finish, then review your lists.
No task is too small for a Next Action. I have included "@Waiting For dryer to finish so I can transfer clothes".
9) Start off with simple gear--a text editor and thumb drive, or a 3-ring binder, or something equally universal and standard. Keep in mind you will likely change gear several times in the coming months, so you want universality.
All of the earlier comments (excellent stuff) plus mine:
Consider starting with a paper-based notebook and focus on getting REALLY good and complete with GTD and particularly the Weekly Review.
Note my use of "consider" but to use software with an initial GTD install you have to be REALLY good at the tool before you can be REALLY good at GTD and learning both at the same time is tough. Not impossible but tough.
The things that go on your lists are words, numbers and easily accessible URLs so a paper-based system is not at any significant disadvantage versus digital and you can easily move stuff to another tool later.
I've seen David's system up close at seminars and it's surprising to me how simple his lists are.
And while I recognize the capabilities of software (and use them in my own system) there's no getting past the fact that any set of GTD lists will consist of words, numbers and easily accessible URLs so don't dismiss my suggestion too quickly.
I am not sure if I have over four years experience with GTD, since I basically use my system, but the three things that have helped me the most are
1. Write in one place. By doing this you save tons of time hunting for info. I use a single legal pad or steno notebook. One for work, one for personal. So everything stays on this pad until it is torn off and filed or thrown away. At the end of the pad, I do a review and start a new one with the lists I need. I don't do a weekly review, when I am out of paper on the pad, I move to a new one, prune the lists, file the notes I need and move on.
2. A - Z filing system. Obviously a GTD concept. Have one, use one. Saves countless hours of hunting time.
3. Begin. Don't obsess over how you process stuff, the best tool or system etc. For me I know all of what I need to do is on the legal pad, so I can dig in and start. I commit to flipping through it several times a day and this keeps priorities top of mind.
One tip is not to forget that the aim is to get everything out of your head, period. If the stress has gone you are there. You now have a system that works, at that point don't constantly change or fiddle with the system. Overtime you won't even think that you are doing GTD it is just the way it is and the way it has always been.
Don't stress over the system itself i.e. don't worry so much if you keep asking yourself "is this a next action? should this go in my calendar? is this a someday/maybe? should this go in my tickler? etc etc" once it is in, it is in and it is therefore out of your head, you can always move it someplace else when you do your weekly review.