Moving from tree-hugging to forest management

Date: Friday, August 21, 2015 by GTD Times Staff

Thanks to E. Jones for sharing his story below with us about his journey with GTD. David Allen has often said that learning GTD is like peeling an onion–the layers continue to unfold.  Here is E.’s story about how his knowledge, tools, and mastery of GTD has evolved:

Hey GTD Crew,

I’m an aspiring GTD practitioner – not necessarily a novice, but definitely not a master.  Was introduced to GTD back in 2007 or so.  Took me a while, but have finally gotten the “Desired Outcome, Current Status, and Next Action” themes ingrained in my way of daily thinking.

As with many who aspire to effectively and efficiently use the GTD methodology – you sometimes fall off the wagon, and new events help you recognize the need and value of getting back on.  I’ve had a couple of those lately, and just wanted to share a few thoughts:

1. In November of 2014, I stepped into a new role.  Lots of change – a good bit of turmoil – and a much faster environment.  Things like that help you to immediately recognize the need for a system.  I felt very much prepared because I had a “system” (at least I thought I was prepared).

2. After a few months in the new role, I realized how much my “system” was tailored to my previous environment.  It became evident that what worked well for me before wasn’t going to work well for me now.  That was a significant (not monumental – but significant) challenge.  I had to learn what pieces of my system would work “as is”, what pieces needed tweaked, and what pieces needed overhauled.

3. As I continue to refine my system, I started (re)reading Getting Things Done (the 2015 version).  I should add that in the midst of all the above, I got a new manager.  Here’s where one of the big light bulbs went off.  I have long recognized the value of the Weekly Review, but mine can be a bit draining – and time consuming.  I try to be thorough – and if I haven’t touched a particular project in a while, that can add to the challenge and time required for a Weekly Review.  In preparation for a 1-on-1 meeting with my new boss, I spent about 3 hours doing a good Weekly Review – capturing current status and next action on 20-30 projects.  That structure worked well.  I think my boss appreciated the structure and the thoroughness – and has asked me to continue that practice.  At the same time, I read a key statement in the 2015 version of GTD:

“A complete and current Projects list is the major operational tool for moving from tree-hugging to forest management”.  

That practice has (and will continue) to help me.  So what’s the next action?  I’ve decided that the tool I was using to capture my Weekly Review needs to change.  I’m very visual – so I love the practice of doing a Weekly Review on a big whiteboard – the issue is the time it takes to transfer the results from “being in the zone” at the whiteboard to something more portable.  I used to use OneNote as a tool for Weekly Review (still do use it for general capture) – but am now working on a master projects list in Excel.  Will share some of the secrets if it helps others – once I get the kinks worked out.

Keep up the good work!!

What’s your GTD story? We’d love to hear from you!

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