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will this system help in extreme cases?

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  • will this system help in extreme cases?

    Does anyone have personal knowledge of this system working for individuals with cases of extreme disorganization and extreme procrastination? Both at the office & at home? I ask this with complete sincerity.

    I've read the book and it has really motivated me to change but I have had these problems nearly all my adult life and have yet to find a true long-term cure. I lead a surprisingly productive and normal life but go through life in a constant state of self-induced anxiety & stress (as if everything could fall apart at any moment). I tell myself everyday that I need to change and cannot go on living like this but am just so overwhelmed. Just wondering if anyone has ever been in a similar situation and had this system cure them or at least help dramatically.

    Thanks in advance for any insights.

  • #2
    extreme cases

    It took a lot of guts for you to send that post. I would like to say that, yes, GTD has helped me "dramatically." I'm no Poster Child yet, but the interworking elements of the Mind Sweep, Projects List, Next Actions in Context and Weekly Review are unlike absolutely anything I have ever seen or tried in the way of organizing. And they work as well for home as for office.

    There have been numerous posts about being discouraged, not getting it, etc. I lack facility with citing past threads, but there was an inspiring one, which someone else may be able to link to, that told the despairing newbie, "It's never too late!" Cling to that! "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you learn to do it well." Also, read Ready for Anything. At first, I thought it was just re-digested GTD, but it is full of gems and makes great reading in short snippets. Very worthwhile.

    Hang in there. You're a thoughtful, expressive person, and you're onto something good. You deserve a more peaceful life.


    • #3
      yes , and...

      1. It will take a while and you will need to work on it daily and do the review weekly. Recognize that your weekly review will not cover every scrap of paper for a long time to come but it can cover every project and every context list.
      2. You will need to stick with it.
      3. You will need to start "forward" with today's mail and other "in" items and the back log bit by bit.
      4. You need to control the temptation to tweak the system.
      5. You will need to do it in ways that make it not too unpleasant or aversive. Some folks can do a 3-day blitz and others need a few hours a day for a long, long time
      6. If you are a low tech person that has always used a paper planner, I would suggest that you stick with that intially but you can use the Palm
      desk top program on a laptop or desk top even with a paper planner.If you are a tech-comfortable type, you don't need any suggestion other than don't get side tracked with new toys and programs.
      7. Get yourself a big trash can and whatever other recepticles you need for trash.
      8. Consider getting the CDs or Tape (FAST Tapes-and David does talk fast, play them over and over while working on your stuff).
      9. Consider getting coaching.$$$ but worth it.
      10. Believe me, the more you define your projects and separate the active from the SomeDayMaybe, the easier it will get.
      11. Take care of yourself (take your vitamins, get enough sleep) and make the implementation of GTD your hobby, don't do 5 all nighters in an effort to make up for lost time.
      12. Don't undo what's working until you fix what isn't--you might make an objective inventory of what works first.

      Good Luck!


      • #4
        thank you

        Just wanted to say thanks for the replies which are very encouraging to me. Yes it took a lot of guts to write what I wrote but that's just the type of person I am -- here I am like it or not. Plus admitting your faults is the first step in correcting them right?. I know my faults. I just need to work on fixing them. I'm a single mom of a teen & a pre-teen with a full-time career that I truly love. They are my two true accomplishments in life (kids & work). Other than that I feel like my life is in constant chaos and I hate that. I am ready to make a major change and I think this GTD stuff is my way to do it. The idea of getting everything out of my head (which seems to be bursting with too much stuff) sounds absolutely invigorating. I think that alone will give me some of the much-needed peace I so desire.

        The idea of starting slow and working at it only a couple hours a day seems like it would be the best approach for me. I too often tend to jump right in with both feet on something and end up drowning from the feeling of being overwhelmed. Just the thought of making one big huge list of everything that's in my head is extremely daunting. I am going to plan on:

        1. working at this a little bit each day (both at the office & at home)
        2. start forward with today while adding in the backlog gradually (I loved this suggestion because it's less overwhelming and I'll feel I'm actually making some progress)
        3. not give up at the first sign of trouble, just get back on track again
        4. buy a lot of trash bags (I know there's lots that I can get rid of)
        5. set up a folder system to start (I have a Palm that I hardly ever use but may eventually if this sticks)
        6. get & read Ready for Anything (I didn't get this because I thought it would be mostly the same as GTD)
        7. just keep at it

        Thanks again for comments and suggestions. I think this might actually help me. I will post on my progress.


        • #5
          The system can help - if you keep it up

          The system is great - I recommend the Getting Things Done Fast CD's - helped me really "get it."

          Procrastination is still a risk - you can get really creative in tweaking the system as a way to avoid doing the real work (i.e. spend too much time focusing on how you manage your lists rather than what's in the lists).

          I find it helpful to "set things in motion" to help fight procrastination or "daunting taskitis." I have the good fortune to have an assistant, so I ask her to set up meetings, calls, etc. to create actionable events to drive some of the un-fun things on my lists.

          This list is a great place to get ideas, ask for help, cry out in pain, etc -- and to celebrate when it works out, too - don't forget that part!


          • #6
            Re: will this system help in extreme cases?

            I relate to your question, because I feel that my life has been characterized by periods of great disorganization and great procrastination. Discovering the book Getting Things Done was one of three pieces that have helped me (so far) recover from my worst period of disorganization and procrastination.

            GTD was the first tool I found; it eventually spurred me to find the others I needed. GTD said that I needed to process and organize all those pieces of paper and mental to-dos cluttering my office and mind. I had almost given up such a comprehensive level of organization as an impossibility; it was a huge job. Yet GTD inspired me to do it. I knew instinctively, as I read the book, that if I were to do all those things, my life would get a lot better. I started by processing everything in my office. I could stand only so much processing at one sitting, so rather than taking 2 full days or so as described in the book, I worked on it for about 4 hours a day for maybe 6 days. It took this long because I am slow to make decisions, but I got better and faster as I went along.

            Just doing this much spurred a period of great productivity, but my next desire was to organize literally everything, not just my workflow support materials. I skimmed a number of books on organizing and bought Julie Morgenstern's Organizing From the Inside Out. Her discussion of the psychological factors helped me better understand my packrat tendencies and made it easier to get rid of stuff or feel OK about saving it, as long as it was organized. I am still not done organizing everything, but I started with a HUGE job after moving all my stuff into a house containing a lifetime of the never-purged stuff of my new spouse. We've made great progress, and I know I will eventually have everything organized.

            Even with this great improvement thanks to those two books, I still had certain persistent procrastination problems. The first 2 books had helped with some of the procrastination, because some procrastination can be caused by lack of organization (addressed in differing areas by both books) or by a lack of identifying and deciding on next actions (addressed by GTD). However, I found I could still procrastinate unbelievably on certain actions and projects. Some of these were actions I had created for myself. I could understand why I procrastinate on doing taxes, but why procrastinate on projects I created as things I really wanted to do? I looked for stuff on the internet and eventually bought The Now Habit. I bet this book is not for everyone, but it has helped me greatly with those problem areas of procrastination. This book addresses two causes of procrastination - perfectionism and rebellion. If you get overwhelmed by the need to do things perfectly, or if you resist doing things you feel you "have" to do, this book may help. I have made great (and unprecedented) progress in most of my problem areas since using the strategies suggested in this book.

            So that's my story of recovery from disorganization and procrastination. I haven't conquered them completely, so I may need more than these 3 antidotes, but I feel that I am well on my way. My advice is to work towards small but consistent improvements. Wanting to go from extreme disorganization and procrastination to extreme organization and productivity overnight will make you feel overwhelmed. Allow yourself to be happy with the improvements you've made, and then look for the next little step you can take to improve further. And when you get stuck (or even regress -- yes, it does happen), don't be afraid to look for a new tool (e.g., book) to help you get unstuck.



            • #7

              is also a great resource, esp. if you need to get rid of (physical) stuff.
              Check it out if you haven't already - it sort of a brainwash approach to breaking the (perfectionism induced) procrastination habit. It's helped me a lot managing a home with four kids under three, and sort of spills over to complement GTD with job/career issues as well.
              Good luck!


              • #8
                OK the link was in the subject line which isn't all that visible so here it is again:
                Don't let the corny graphics fool you - it really is good stuff.


                • #9
                  I was also thinking of mentioning FlyLady in response this post. One of her best pieces of advice, for someone in this situation (and most of us have been there) is to force yourself to start with baby steps. Start with one tiny part of your life and get it under control. In her system, it's Shining Your Sink every morning, which I never really bought into! because I just don't care that much about my sink, but I do think the concept of starting with baby steps is a good one and has worked for me in other areas. It's similar to DA's notion that if you can break a project down to the next physical action that needs to be done, you can tackle that next physical action, whereas tackling The Project might be so intimidating that you never do it.


                  • #10
                    Extreme Cases

                    Lots of good advice. For me, Julie Morgenstern, David Allen, and FLYLady are the proverbial three legs of the stool. They reinforce each other. But David is the cutest. As Billy Bob's character in Slingblade would say, "I like the way he talks."


                    • #11
                      Thanks to user "Far Beyond Help"

                      I really appreciate your sharing about yourself here, as there is something about your post that is oh-so reminescent of just about EVERY single person I know.

                      The people who have organized environments are the exception, nowadays.

                      But it does NOT mean that those with all the 'STUFF' don't have successful meaningful careers or great family lives.

                      I sometimes wonder if simply genetically speaking that we humans have NOT evolved to the level where we can deal with so many THINGS in our lives and so much STUFF on our schedules.

                      I've not finished reading the book yet, and perhaps like you, I am most curious to learn how to apply this to the HOME environment --- I happened to notice your posting when I was checking this website to see if anyone had yet invented the 'WHEEL' for GTD @ Home......

                      I got interested in this after reading a great review of Allen's book which appeared in THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY.

                      I'm not interested in FlyLady, for in order for the system to work, you have to sign up and receive sometimes a dozen or so "motiviational/instructional EMAILS each day -- something I am *not* at all interested in.

                      *I* want to do this, NOT receive chatty little emails throughout the day --- a method which obviously works for some, but appalls me.

                      Good luck to you, and I hope you update this thread, I'll check back every once in a while ---- fact is, I do not more than a very few individuals whose home is not a worthy target of GTD -- but am unsure if I have to interpret the book in that manner, or if the GTD@Home modus operandi already exists.

                      I loved the book review, and am glad to learn that the book is apparently as good as the review of it.

                      Take care.


                      • #12
                        I just wanted to add that I also find Flylady helpful and visit sporadically.

                        You do NOT need to sign up for emails to get some helpful "tricks"!


                        • #13
                          The prob I have with Flylady is there is no defined system or logic that underlies her method. You do what flylady tells you to do, because she knows best. That's an oversimplification, but fundamentally the way it works. It requires a lot of faith in some stranger's judgment and the willingness to do something "because flylady said to do it" to stick with it, and because it doesn't have a systematic underpinning (except for all those "thou shalts"), I think it falls apart much more easily than something like GTD when you interrupt the routines. She also adds references to her personal deity to her communications on a pretty regular basis, which I consider a negative. Julie Morgenstern's books are far more in sync with the GTD approach, and Julie and David treat you like an adult.



                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Anonymous
                            I just wanted to add that I also find Flylady helpful and visit sporadically.

                            You do NOT need to sign up for emails to get some helpful "tricks"!
                            Hi, there.

                            Thanks for pointing that out. I really had no idea that there's quite a few webpages one can access WITHOUT joining --- frankly, there are so many links for "JOIN" and/or "WHY YOU SHOULD JOIN" ---- that I had simply presumed that the "good" stuff was behind the Member-ONLY "Firewall."

                            The poster after you states that with FlyLady, you DO whatever FlyLady tells you to do.

                            This is anathema to me -- that is NOT the Desired Outcome I have in mind, a dependency on external instructions, particular with something so mundane as household maintenance.

                            However, if you say that FlyLady has some good ideas about how to successfully deal with the routine humdrum household chores - I definitely wanna check this out.

                            Have you, perchance, ever come across any type of "Grocery List TEMPLATE"??

                            I'm unsure of the terminology.

                            What I want is to NOT ever have to write down words such as "milk" or "bananas" on another grocery list ever again this lifetime -- LOL

                            I think I want some checklist thingee.

                            Although I've not yet "really" started on GTD, as I am reading the book VERY slowly, and frequently re-reading many sections ------ I am absoluted astounded that the mere act of starting to compile a preliminary list of Desired Outcomes (AKA: Projects) --- that a mere ONE page of 'dumping' dozens of Desired Outcomes in writing, has increased my energy level by leaps & bounds, and another blatant result which arose is a calm mental focus on the present moment ...


                            It's amazing, simply ridiculous, alla the JUNQUE that the pace of modern life fills your cranium with!


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Grateful
                              Have you, perchance, ever come across any type of "Grocery List TEMPLATE"??

                              I'm unsure of the terminology.

                              What I want is to NOT ever have to write down words such as "milk" or "bananas" on another grocery list ever again this lifetime -- LOL

                              I think I want some checklist thingee.

                              Try My Grocery Checklist. Either print it out as is, or save to your hard drive and edit to your liking. (Scroll down for the freebie.)

                              There are some good lists on the Basic Lists site. They used to be free, but I see you now have to pay a fee to use them.