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Easier than it seems?

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  • Easier than it seems?

    Hi everyone,

    I've been using GTD for a few months now, and I love it -- has helped me in more ways than I can begin to say. Since I've been working with it, I've noticed two things about my own experience, and I'm curious if others have had similar experiences:

    a. after dumping "everything" into my system and chugging through the next actions, I found that I had a lot LESS to do than I'd imagined. I had so many little "to dos" hanging around on the runway level that I hadn't seen 10,000-feet -- much less 60,000 feet -- in ages. What a discovery -- I've got some heavy-duty thinking ahead.

    b. this whole GTD thing is a lot easier than I thought it would be. I'm a natural-born geek and gadget freak, so when I first read the book, I figured I'd take a few weeks to build a "system" to work with Outlook and my Pocket PC. After playing with add-ins and configurations, I realized that all I really needed was a few properly categorized lists. Nothing fancy, it all syncs effortlessly, and the system itself doesn't require any maintenance beyond my daily and weekly reviews.

    Here's my question: I'm collecting, processing, and doing my stuff and conducting my weekly reviews. I'm not finding much of anything slipping through the cracks. Still, you all seem to have so many sophisticated ideas about categorizing next actions and creating projects, I keep wondering if there's a technical level to this that I'd find beneficial. I am oversimplifying things?


  • #2
    Re: Easier than it seems?

    I have been in GTD for some time now, and my best expirence is everytime I tend to simplify, people tend to let the inner geek dominate the GTD.
    My opinion is if your simple approach works, do not make it more complicate, the important thing is that works for you.
    for example in my case I am a mac user, I been trying many software, only the palm, palm and paper, paper and palm, and today I do not feel my system is perfect. Therefore if you have a sinple system, congrats. If you want to give us more detail, maybe you can help more people with your system.

    [quote="Kalnel"]Hi everyone,

    a. after dumping "everything" into my system and chugging through the next actions, I found that I had a lot LESS to do than I'd imagined. I had so many little "to dos" hanging around on the runway level that I hadn't seen 10,000-feet -- much less 60,000 feet -- in ages. What a discovery -- I've got some heavy-duty thinking ahead.

    I had the same expirence, but is taking me sometime to get into the good stuff, the good part is that everytime I discover of identify something of more than 20k I discover many todos (really important to me) therefore after you kill the idea that you are busy, you discover how to get busy in the important stuff.


    • #3
      GTD is not about gagdets

      GTD is not about gagdets or perfect system implementation - it is about Getting Things Done according to your own jugdment what is important in your life.


      • #4
        I've fallen into this time before. I had a Pocket PC sync'ed to Outlook. I had lots of categories to keep things organized, files on the POcket PC to write down any thoughts that occured, etc.

        After the battery died in the Pocket PC, I decided to go back to a paper based organizer. Same thing, I had lots of categories, etc, etc....

        Now, after a couple of years and reading suggestions from Covey, Robbins, and Allen, I've finally got my planner streamlined to where it's right for me. I have:

        1. Calendar (with planning lines on each day - week at a time), Tasks are reduced to several basic categories
        2. Data section with each page a different category in alphabetical order
        3. Notes section for random notes that I run across until I can deal with them properly, staff mtg notes, etc.
        4. Contacts section.
        I manually "sync" with Outlook, using Outlook to print them every week (nice and neat).

        I'm a teacher, so I don't need to have a million categories or sections in my planner. Once I did that, I became much more efficient in both planning and in using my planner. It's more a part of me now than ever before. I'm still a serious techno-geek, and have no complaints with the Pocket PC, just that for right now, my system is working for me. I have no doubts that later in the year I'll look over it again and tweak it. You have to use what works for you, and different people, jobs, professions, etc. will have different needs.


        • #5
          Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I've been fascinated to read how everyone organizes their systems -- and I'm inclined to think that something about this method must appeal to all of us gadget freaks. (At least this merges "playing with the new toys" and productivity to a degree -- if nothing else, "tweaking" my system keeps me engaged regularly.)

          As far as my system goes, it's pretty low maintenance. Outlook is my master system -- next actions get organized as tasks, assigned to the @ categories DA reports using on his Palm. I process email as it comes in by responding (under 2 minutes), filing for reference, or dragging to the task folder to create a next action. No heavy-duty macros, just tasks and categories.

          These all sync automatically with my Pocket PC. For optimal viewing and organizing, I've been using Pocket Informant, rather than the native Task, Calendar, Contacts.

          For my weekly reviews, I've got a master list in Word (which I also sync to the PPC), that is embedded in a task that repeats one week after I complete it. I keep projects as "Contacts" -- using Bill Kratz' idea without the special template -- so those sync, too. This way, I can pretty much do my review from anywhere.

          The processing and reviews are almost second-nature for me -- about two years ago, I switched to a completely "paperless" office, so I routinely round up the scraps and incoming paper to upload to my system anyway. I keep all notes, interviews, and reference material electronically, so even those get processed immediately. (This paperless stuff helps a lot with GTD, since reference files and ticklers can be attached to Tasks automatically.)

          (I'd love to find a better way to "stage" next actions -- I wish I could create "dependencies" that would generate the appropriate next action automatically after the first one is completed.)

          I'm starting to work on my 20,000-ft and above projects and next actions now, and I haven't quite figured out how to plug them into the system. I've been thinking about casting them as "master projects" with "sub-projects" underneath them, but I wonder if that'll create "hierarchies" that aren't really necessary. Do you all track "projects" at these levels? Any advice?

          It's funny -- this simple system keeps leading me into complex thinking. I just can't decide if the system needs to "stay simple" or if it should become more sophisticated as I start in on more complicated things. (I keep envisioning a next action list with "buy paint" and "talk to God" creeping closer and closer



          • #6
            When I went to the GTD seminar a few years ago, DA threw out an Einstein quote (I love Einstein quotes), that I try to keep in mind not just about how I handle GTD, but whenever I'm designing anything - "keep things as simple as possible, but not simpler". Have as many categories, in box collecting tools as you need, but not more. It does take a little bit of trial and error to figure out how simple you can make things, but I think working through that process of personalizing is really what helps make GTD click.

            And I can relate to what you are saying about how surprising it is to find out how LITTLE time it takes to do certain things. Some things I think carry an emotional or mental weight that is disporportianate to the actual time they take. Once you start chugging through them, they hold less power over you.


            • #7
              I couldn't agree more about the "emotional weight" of tasks -- I think that's the genius behind GTD. By "de-fanging" the tasks through next actions and positive actions, not only are things easier to do, they're *possible* to do.

              I think this is the point keeps me wondering: After years of dread, missed deadlines, procrastination, and uncertainty, I'm still in disbelief that it can all work out so easily. I mean, I'm *living* it, but to achieve such a major paradigm shift through such a simple technique seems almost literally incredible.

              Now I just wish David Allen would write a diet book and a book on fixing golf swings...