Taking care of family

This community contribution comes from Tara who uses GTD to care for her ill mother.  It’s a wonderful story from someone who–already naturally organized and chartproductive–found ways to improve on her systems to provide the best care she could for her mother.

Dear David,

I’m probably in the camp of those who need GTD the least and who benefit from it the most. I’ve always been an “organized” person and have been praised for my ability to get things done and not let things “fall of my plate” or “radar screen” depending on the metaphor you prefer. That said, my life has taken a turn for the more complex and chaotic recently and I’ve found GTD to be the thing that helps me keep it together. A while back, my mother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. (For those who don’t know, this is Stage IV cancer where it has spread throughout the body and is incurable. Amazingly, with the treatments available, women are able to sometimes live for years with this diagnosis.) I am my mother’s caregiver, with no other family support. As you may imagine, the complexity of managing all of the new doctors/specialists, medical information and appts (along with my already busy career and life) is incredible. And just to make things fun, I live in one state and my office is in another state, so I’m on the road a lot.

Here, specifically, are the behaviors that GTD has influenced and I find particularly helpful:

  • I take notes on my laptop at all of my mother’s doctors appts. This makes it easy to find information later and to capture the next actions quickly. Also, it allows me to copy and paste the notes into an email to my mother so she can reference the information later.
  • I have an “area of responsibility” called mom, and track all of my projects related to her care in one place in my system.
  • I keep items that she will take care of herself (like filling a prescription) on my @waiting list to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks.
  • I keep an agenda list for each of mom’s doctors and add questions as they come up. This way they are handy in and in one spot when we arrive at the appointments.
  • I do bi-weekly reviews of the “Mom” related projects and actions with Mom (like a sub-set of the weekly review) so that we’re up to date on our active projects and commitments related to her care.

All of this helps me make sure that I’m caring for her the best I can and focus my mental energy on enjoying the time I have with her. Another benefit is that, in this rough economy, I’ve actually had two doctors offer me jobs on the spot when they realize how well I’m organizing all the details of my mother’s care and ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks!

Thanks for your books and all of the great tools! I refer to the job aids and listen to the audio resources on a regular basis.

Best regards,
Tara Nofziger

If you have a GTD story to share with our readers, we’d love to hear from you at [email protected].

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  1. Tara –

    This is a very inspiring story and one that I think many users of the GTD community could benefit from. I have recently been put in somewhat the same position (my father has Metastatic Melanoma) and trying to organize everything related to expenses, house maitnence, etc was becoming overwhelming until I started to take a “GTD Attitude” towards it. Glad to see that other people think alike. My best to your family.

  2. Tara – amazing story. I am fairly new to GTD and have hesitated in using it for personal more than professional purposes. Thanks for the inspiration! All the best to you and your mom.

  3. Tara,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I recognize that you can focus your mental energy in enjoying time with your mother. A trustable GTD-system outside your head is worth more than anything can describe.

    Bless you,

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