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How Long Did It Take You to Implement GTD?

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  • How Long Did It Take You to Implement GTD?

    I'm a newbie to GTD, as of about six weeks ago. I'm delighted by the progress I've made so far, but can see I have a long way to go to reach "mind like water"! That's mainly because I have so much backlog to work through, from all those years of not GTD. When I started this six weeks ago, I was hoping to have GTD fully implemented (or reasonably so) within 3-6 months. But I just read a GTD book review on Amazon indicating that it often takes more like 2 years. I'm wondering what everyone's experience has been. How long did it take you to feel that you were pretty much "there"?

  • #2
    A few people weighed in on this question here:

    It's not setting up the physical tools that takes so much time. What takes a while is the process of retraining yourself, losing old habits, developing new habits, changing the way you think about things.

    And there are different levels of "there." In a newsletter earlier this year, David talked about the different "belts" and what it means to reach those levels. Check out, which should have those descriptions and some thoughts on them.

    Hope that helps.


    • #3
      I'm at about 8 - 9 weeks, and I have so much stuff cluttering my world that my original 3-6 month expectation has been pushed farther and farther out. Naturally the implementation process depends to some extent on how many years one has been doing things in other ways. For me, at 56, I have a LOT of things to undo and in some cases open loops going back longer than I'm even willing to admit to myself right now.

      There have been moment of frustration (almost depair) as I realized how some areas of work and life have gotten so far out of alignment, especially since the application of some basic GTD concepts on the front end would have made such a huge difference. I have actually experienced moments of frustration that made me almost ask "Is it worth it to make changes this drastic?', until I come back to the realization that it's either get on with the task or "go live on the beach & make hats for the tourists" as David says in the FAST CD.

      At the same time, I'm seeing immediate benefits with my tickler file, 2-minute rule, empty email & voicemail in-boxes, more efficient use of my Palm, organized context lists, etc. This makes me want to implement GTD even more - I can sense what it feels like to gain control over some areas I had previously written off as hopelessly disorganized. To know that degree of organization & control is possible across the board is exciting, but there's a price in time and resources. In any event, I'm much more relaxed and focused and can honestly say that there are things which I will never let crawl back up in my head and distract me. Whenver they try distract my mind, I just remind them that they're on their proper list, they will come back around at the appropriate time, and they can just leave me alone right now.

      I'm hoping to beat two years, but at this point I would be surprised if I can be where I want to be in less than 12 months, (maybe even 18 months).


      • #4
        FWIW, I noticed that my implementation process is not constant each month. That means I may need to spend a total of 6 months to 'finish' my GTD implementation but spread the last two months over a year's calendar time.

        I think there are two causes: 1) There are diminishing returns. In the beginning I got great benefit from the effort. Now, the remaining effort seems huge for just an incremental benefit. 2) There are some parts of the GTD system that I have not found time for yet, for example, organizing the credit card files in the home office. It is a necessary step to reach full implementation but right now I am in a busy period at work and keep my home time as relaxed as possible. It is on my Someday list as part of the project "GTD method fully implemented." I may NEVER get to it, though, so my time to reach full GTD might be measured in years.



        • #5
          Similar topic is discussed elsewhere.



          • #6
            Thanks very much for all of your responses. Knowing that this is a long-term project will, I think, help me from becoming discouraged when things don't fall into place after a few weeks (or months). Now I know that I'm in for the long haul!