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Should I start now or later?

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  • Should I start now or later?

    I am new to GTD, I actually haven't even started it. I am having a problem with that and was wondering if I could get some advice from people already using the system and know how much it helps.

    Here is my situation... I live in a house with my husband that we are rebuilding. I live in michigan and it is getting really cold. Currently my husband is going to school and doesnt feel like he has time to help with the house, so I am installing the ductwork for my furnace so we can have heat (right now we are relying on an electric heater for the small upstairs we are "living in" in our house), mudding the drywall so I can finish the walls and paint them, installing the siding on the outside of the house to keep heat in better and make the house look 100% better, tiling the walls of our shower so we dont have to take baths in the "cold" downstairs bathroom (since we dont heat down there right now), and hundreds of other smaller projects that aren't as important as these 4 I mentioned.

    My problem is right now we have everything in one area, bed, tv, dining table, microwave, office stuff, workout equipment, all of our food, clothing, and everything we use day to day, and no place for a desk or devoted spot for an "office".

    My main plan of what to do is to finish the ductwork to get heat everywhere in the house so I can finish mudding the drywall in the extra bedroom downstairs, paint it, and set it up like an office and then start using this system for the chaotic life I have.
    But by then it will be to cold to do any siding on the house because it becomes very brittle in the cold and I am sure I would break it more than I would install it... AND I would be waiting another week or two to start GTD because I am not an expert on any of the work I do, I have just never been able to hire people to do things for me so I have learned how to do them and done them myself, but it takes me time.

    I guess my question is do i start GTD now without making the desk area and possibly make the system work against me or just keep learning and thinking about what I am going to do when I can start it and get a starting area made first? I dont know if starting it now will help or hurt my situation. Any suggestions would be appreciated greatly!

  • #2
    You can start right now

    Hello Mrs. Underwood,

    Thanks for posting. You certainly have a lot going on!

    The good news is you don't need to have a desk or a computer program or wait on any event (even central heating) to start GTD.

    You can start doing GTD simply by writing down on paper, or typing into a file on your computer, all that's on your mind. This miraculously helpful part of GTD requires no fancy equipment or additional knowledge.

    One of the key elements of GTD is the value of capturing what's on your mind, in an external location. That external location can start out as a set of index cards, or a spreadsheet you keep in a computer. The point is that you can derive value from GTD by just getting stuff out of your head into an external place. In other words, start a list of what's on your mind. You can list actions you know of, or start listing those "hundreds of other smaller projects" you mentioned.

    Yes, there is more to GTD. You'll get to the processing and organizing and reviewing of your list(s). You'll get to the identifying of next actions by context for all those projects. But you don't have to have it all figured out before you start externalizing what you have on your mind. And by externalizing what's on your mind, you may find that you feel relieved immediately, and what's next will be easier to decide.

    Welcome, and all the best to you on your journey of exploration with GTD. And good luck with getting heat around the house!

    -- John


    • #3
      I would just start with a folder or one of those portable desktop filing holders, pen, pad of paper and you are ready to start. Just make the first file or front part of the folder your inbox and you are ready to go. It help will help with your chaos now, but even better, by the time you are ready to setup the office space you will have an understanding of GTD and can design the office setup with GTD in mind, having already learned how to do it.


      • #4
        Good thinking in above post!

        I love the suggestion to just make the front of the folder your in box. Keep it simple. But, somehow I also feel that these big projects might also need a big wall to write or draw on so you can see the whole thing and it needs to be off the construction site for thinking and planning. As a student perhaps your husband would have access to a classroom (for mapping everything out on the board). Some churches or YMCAs have rooms with black or whiteboards that are only used a few times a week, perhaps you could see if you could come in two times a week for a few hours. Someone I know had to study for a big test and could only be home when his family was all home, along with their visiting dogs (they were dog sitters). so he was not moving forward. I spoke to someone who knew someone at a church and the church leaders decided his situation was a worthy mission project. They charged him $5.00/month for use of the Sunday school room for 3 hours a day, 6 days a week on a set schedule. He said that sometimes he really did not study there but just sat and thought, planned how he would study, drew diagrams of things and cleared his head. He passed the test! And, he more than paid back the church with his labor afterwards. Good luck.
        Last edited by Jamie Elis; 11-16-2011, 08:19 PM. Reason: spelling


        • #5
          Thank you for your ideas. I have always made very specific lists since I was young, for each project I do, with each step I need to take, and sometimes materials lists and tool lists, that is why GTD is so appealing to me. If I am stressed or need to relax, I make a list, if something is bugging me, I usually organize something or make a list.

          Reading the book has given me many ideas on how I can greatly improve on my list making, which makes me happy. I am very excited to implement everything I can from GTD, but for now starting an "office" upstairs with just a few things to start could be just what I need in order to get the extra bedroom made into an office faster! Thanks again for the reassurance that this will help even in my current situation!!


          • #6
            Start Now

            I'd suggest starting now. Use paper and just write down everything you need to do. FOr major projects like heating, Make one page for each major project and put all your thoughts and notes onto that.

            I'd also suggest a clipboard with a storage compartment like contractors use. Highly useful for house construction projects because you can put paint chips, fabric samples, business cards of specialist contractors, building permit papers and inspection reports and grab it whenever you need to do something. Having all the parts of that type of project with you makes it a lot easier to manage.

            Make the clipboard your portable office system. Maybe add a bankers box for reference filing and you're good to go.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Mrs.Underwood View Post
              I have always made very specific lists since I was young, for each project I do, with each step I need to take, and sometimes materials lists and tool lists,
              These sort of things are called project support materials od just project support in GTD parlance.

              Originally posted by Mrs.Underwood View Post
              Reading the book has given me many ideas on how I can greatly improve on my list making, which makes me happy.
              Good to have another list geek over here! Keep us updated how the going is going.


              • #8
                Start now, please!

                Start now, please!

                If you like lists GTD will give you list system on steroids!


                • #9
                  I started gradually

                  When I started GTD, I didn't take a block of time to put everything into the system.
                  I continued with my normal routines and systems, and carried around a notebook
                  to do GTD organizing in. Over a number of weeks, gradually my stuff got into the
                  GTD system. I used bits of time here and there -- while eating lunch, while waiting
                  in line, etc. -- to organize stuff in the notebook. I wrote things down when I thought
                  of them. It wasn't easy, but it worked, and I liked doing it that way.


                  • #10
                    Agree with all the above. Definitely make a start of some sort - as you are reading the book, you'll likely have great enthusiasm, which is great to help you get going. Certainly start gradually - eg parts of your life - and then add to it.


                    • #11
                      Definitely start now! I would suggest keeping it as simple for yourself as possible. Use papers in a folder, simple spreadsheet or text file, even index cards. But just having everything in a trusted system will give you a lot of peace of mind. Then, when things settle down a bit, you can get more detailed with your system.

                      Good luck and hopefully everything will go well for you!