Today, I’d like to talk about methodology as a key component in my productivity equation and specifically how it relates to ramping up quickly with GTD and Lotus Notes.
Whether you are conscious of it or not, you have a methodology, a system, a habit for how you get your work done. Some methodologies, systems, and habits will be more productive than others; some can even be counter productive. I began this series by writing an email to help someone get started using Lotus Notes as his implementation tool for David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology.
Over the years, I’ve learned several approaches to knowledge work but to date I have found none that made more sense and was more sustainable for me than GTD. It wasn’t always this way. I used to find Stephen Covey’s 7-Habits approach to be ideal and while I think it is an excellent approach for planning, I was unable to sustain it on a day to day basis and I often felt bad that my day to day actions were not getting me closer to my goals and vision. That’s not to say that Covey’s approach doesn’t work – it does, but it was a great deal for me to maintain.
Covey takes a top-down approach to productivity, starting with the desired outcome (“Begin with the end in mind”) and then working down to daily actions that line up to support those goals. On paper that makes sense to me as the best way to go. In real life, however, it was hard to do, because, well, life happens.
David Allen’s approach starts at the bottom – clearing the decks — so that you can think freely about the bigger picture stuff. I’ve been working with GTD since long before the GTD moniker and I can tell you that it is sustainable. What do I use today? A little of both. The foundation of my work style is built on the GTD methodology, while Covey has certainly influenced the values and planning aspects of my work and life.
OK, let’s get practical: My advice for getting started with the GTD Methodology:
If you are already a GTD black belt, then what follows will be preaching to the choir. I invite you, however, to read on and share your experience about how you learned the GTD methodology and how you sharpened your GTD habits. Remember that the context of this topic was how to ramp up quickly with GTD.
From my email:
I. Get grounded in the basics of GTD
There are several ways to do this. Here are a few that I recommend:
1. Start by reading David’s book, Getting Things Done (yes, again). It’s good stuff — it’s all advanced common sense, but will often take many iterations to make the connection to the finer points of your work.
2. Listen to a GTD audio program, to reinforce the book
You can purchase the CD’s of the book and seminar from the DavidCo store; or, you can sign up for GTD Connect and listen to MP3 Podcasts about specific topics. (I recommend and do both.)
3. Review some of the free GTD articles available on-line.
4. Frequent the public GTD forums
The Public GTD Forums contain a wealth of information from people in all walks of life, sharing how they implemented and are using GTD. It’s a great place to find answers to almost any question you may have.
5. Attend a GTD seminar
I’ve had the good fortune to attend more than a dozen MAP (Managing Actions and Projects) GTD (Getting Things Done) seminars by David Allen over the past 15 years and I learn something new each time. There are currently two seminars: “GTD RoadMap” and the “GTD Mastering Workflow.” Ideally, I would say to attend both, but if you must choose, here’s my take on each: The RoadMap is presented by David Allen. it’s a great seminar, follows the book, and gives you an overview of the methodology, why it works, and how to do it. The Mastering Workflow seminar is a new one that focuses on the nuts and bolts of implementation. I’ve not yet attended this new format but I am very familiar with the material and I think you would find this one most valuable. I’m sure you would enjoy either one. Here’s a link to the schedule of upcoming seminars:
OK, that gets you the basic methodology. Next, you will need to decide which technology you want to use as your GTD Implementation tool. Since you asked me about using Lotus Notes as a tool to support your implementation of the GTD methodology, I will share some of my experience and thoughts on the next page.
My own learning actually occurred in reverse of the list I propose above. You see, I started working with David and his business partners long before GTD. In those days, the company was called The Productivity Development Group and their flagship seminar was called “Managing Actions and Projects” (MAP). So I learned by seminar first and then by forums, books, and articles. Along the way, David, been most generous to help me understand and refine some of the more subtle and powerful aspects of the GTD approach.