David Allen’s advice on making GTD simpler to adopt

Someone new to GTD asked David Allen for advice on making GTD simpler to adopt.

David answered this way . . .

It’s hard to get it any simpler than this:

  • Keep meaningful stuff out of your head
  • Make action and
  • Organize reminders of those items in easy to view places
  • Review it all and keep it current

Any one of those elements without the others won’t really produce that much value.

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  1. I think one thing that impedes one’s ability to fully and successfully adopt GTD is that maybe there are just too many inputs flooding in. I have been on and off the GTD wagon for a couple of years, and I think part of my problem is having too much happening in my life and at work. So many things to juggle. I get caught up in what needs my immediate attention – because it seems like that is most of my inputs. At some point, I need to figure out how to say “no” to requests when my plate is already full and overflowing. I need to figure out how to close the “flood gate” so to speak so I can focus on the bigger things that need my full attention.

  2. I find that Julie Morgenstern’s book “Organizing from the Inside Out” goes together really well with the system. They aren’t an exact dovetail fit, but it does shed some light onto why we get behind or overloaded.

    The previous commenter has a overloading plate, which seems to be “External Realities.” This could be from family or work.

    The beauty of GTD is you can shift things around as needed to make room for what is critical or urgent. My biggest challenge with GTD has simply being disciplined enough to clean the inbox every day and file everything away appropriately. I think sometimes just resting and not doing anything is just as important as getting something done.

    I have been on GTD for almost 2 years now. I know at least once, I just threw everything out and just started over. (That is my natural system or organizing btw, it isn’t great, but sometimes it just helps to clear things out). I was able to address certain things that got stuck or simply organize them a little better.

    I also changed roles/positions so that I would have different time demands to move through my personal backlog.

  3. It seems to me that if you get to a point where you feel it’s necessary to throw everything out and start over, you may be trying to hold on to too much. Yes, I’d like to please everybody too but I just can’t do that and even if I could, way too many of my own values would have to be compromised. At some point, we have to be fair with ourselves and those around us and let go of stuff we either don’t have the time/energy for or the ability to otherwise implement or complete. This doesn’t mean we should give up on dreams, but to make sure that we can see progress toward what we see as our purpose in life – whatever that is.

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