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What makes GTD simple?

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  • What makes GTD simple?

    In recent posts, some have posed the question, "is GTD too complex?"
    As expected, more folks on this GTD forum say "no," or "yes but," "if you don't like it don't do it," or some version of that.

    Obviously we are GTD fans, so no surprise.

    So enough of the "ooorahh"s and head bobbing on our side; I have a different question:

    What makes GTD simple or easy for you? If you have not missed a weekly review since Star Wars came out, is it because of the hot cup of tea that invites you in for 90 mins, while others might be repelled by the weekly review? Is it the neatness and clarity of the label maker on your files that makes it easy to file instead of pile? What small thing makes this GTD easy or simple?

    My personal answer is this:
    Keep the Next Actions in front of my face. I am new to GTD, and I began with a "phone calls" folder. This folder was inside a drawer. It became a sort of venus fly trap. It would eat up my notes to "call Zack" and I never had to worry about it again. Why weren't my calls getting done? Beats me. Some might say the system is too complex.

    This week I pulled out my Phone Calls folder and emptied it!! Same day!! No calls to make! Just moving the folder to where I can see it, made all the difference. One call (which I have wanted to place since October, you read that right) turned into a thank you letter which was much better. I can't tell you how that one simple change made GTD so much easier to do!


    So, what makes GTD easy for you to do? What one tip or trick do you have to share that simplifies the system, or one aspect of it?

  • #2
    Using a smartphone has been a boon for me. Paper gets too chaotic and just feels wrong (for GTD, but it's okay for mindmaps etc), and ordinary computers I don't always have access to and it ties me to specific locations. The smartphone never leaves my side and I find it very easy and enjoyable to tinker with.

    I know smartphones aren't exactly a secret (but then most tips and tricks you get in these threads aren't, it's mostly rehashed ideas, often originated from DA himself), but I don't think I know of any GTD-secrets.

    I still think doing is the most difficult part. I can be totally ready to do -- be at the right place at the right time and with a well defined NA -- and still not do it. It's a weird phenomenon, and more likely a problem within me than within the system (oh, proof of cultism, to blame the individual and not the system, lol).


    • #3
      When you know exactly how to get back on, it's easy.


      • #4
        The clear head does it for me. If everything's captured and off my mind, it's so much easier to think about what I'm actually supposed to be thinking about.


        • #5
          GTD itself is not complex but the systems some build around it are

          The essence of GTD is captured in the five phases (collect, process, organize, review and do). It's very simple in principle but the system that people build to implement the principles can be easily overcomplicated--especially with the lure of all of those cool apps for smartphones that can do just about anything...except the key elements of organizing our reminders in an manner that's simple and fast to update and retrieve.


          • #6
            What makes GTD simple?

            For me, it is the way the system works with your intuition, allowing you to choose what to do instinctively. It gives your brain the information it needs to make decisions far more easily than any other system I have used. I have found this increasingly easy the longer I have worked with GTD.


            • #7

              A principle of GTD (as I see it) is to set things up so that I'm only reminded of things
              I want to be reminded of, that I'll actually be willing to do at that time and place.
              When I think of something to do, immediately I think "do I actually want to do this?
              Where will I be and how will I be feeling when I'll be able and wanting to do it?
              How can I word it effectively so I'll actually do it?" and then right away I write it down
              in a little notebook in my pocket on a page for an appropriate context.

              The rest of the time I can comfortably think "I don't need to worry about that
              right now."


              • #8
                There is more to say to it, but one aspect is the "touch once" philosophy of the lists. You process an item and put it, say, onto you @calls list. Someday you work on your @calls and make that call and cross the item off. No re-shuffling of items, no re-sorting of lists etc. Touch it once, that's it.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Almost Done View Post
                  What makes GTD simple or easy for you?
                  So, what makes GTD easy for you to do? What one tip or trick do you have to share that simplifies the system, or one aspect of it?
                  For me, it's something I ran across in one of DA's books -- can't remember if it was GTD or Making It All Work. Anyway, it's the problem that when you're trying to concentrate on Task A, your mind is likely to keep distracting you with popping up all these other tasks that you really ought to be thinking about. That's a BIG problem for me! The GTD solution is to PLAN for that to happen -- to Capture all those ideas, write them down, and then get right back to Task A at hand!

                  It makes all the difference for me if I just make sure I have a notepad and pen handy to jot down all those random thoughts, so I can acknowledge them without actually getting distracted by them. Once I'm done with Task A, I can either toss my random list into my Inbox or just give them a quick process.