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  • Newbie looking for advice

    I’m a GTD newbie who’s trying to get through the GTD book as fast as possible so I can start implementing his ideas. I’m so excited that this GTD philosophy might finally be the right one for me… I’ve been frustrated with others but feel good about this one. I love reading your posts – especially since I have many of the same questions that you are asking each other. So helpful!

    I’d like to ask for some advice from those who follow the GTD philosophy – but first a little background. My husband and I are both classical freelance musicians (read: crazy schedule) who play for weddings and a few different orchestras as well as teach private students, etc. I also work a 9-5 corporate job. I manage my corporate work tasks separately and will continue to do so. We have a 6 year old son and are contemplating giving him a sibling. We used to use Franklin planners (going way back) and now use Pocket PCs and Outlook to manage our schedules. We have an Access database for all of our wedding clients (125+ each year) and we upload wedding gigs into Outlook and sync often so we always know each other’s schedule. That part works really well but I can’t say the same for our task management process (or lack of). We have dozens (100+?) tasks to be completed (some short term, some long term) and in most cases the task can be done by either my husband or myself. We tried using “Tasks” in Outlook (and on the Pocket PCs) but it just didn’t work for us. I’m reading about “NA”s in the GTD book and what I’m wondering is… how do you coordinate NAs between 2 people? I’d like to take advantage of the fact that we can sync data between the Pocket PC and Outlook, but both of us prefer to write our tasks… which means that we are forever comparing (and re-writing) NA lists which feels like a huge waste of time. I think we could manage our own NA list fairly well but we’re not sure how to manage the NAs that we share.

    Maybe this is addressed later in the book…so I’ll keep reading. Just wondering if any of you have any gems of wisdom for me.

    Thanks so much!!

  • #2
    Hi pks1994 - good question. It might help to separate your technical and accountability concerns. The former is a matter of tools - figuring out what you like (starting with paper vs. digital), trying it, and iterating. (Warning: Spending too much time tweaking tools is a known GTD trap.)

    In your case I'd suggest a regular meeting (a "Couple Review?") during which you compare projects and actions, and get very clear on who owns which ones. It's also a great time to do catch up on your Waiting For and Actions lists to see how handed-off actions and projects are coming along. If something's stuck, do a little diagnosis to figure out what holding it back - there are two of you, so it's a chance to get some help. I find it's often enough to have just a little help (or even to talk about a problem) to get things moving again.

    Hope this helps!


    • #3
      If you prefer writing your tasks and you want to hand off tasks from one to the other, having the tasks on individual index cards may be a clean way to do it without having to rewrite tasks.

      If you want to have a common list of tasks and whoever gets to it first gets to pick which one they do, your solution may vary depending on whether you are usually both in the same location or whether you want to be able to select a task when you are in different locations. I'm sure you want to avoid both of you selecting the same task and doing it. If you are in the same location, any method (paper/analog or plastic/digital) will work if you can mark the task in some way that it's started. If you are in separate locations you'll probably need some type of digital list that can be shared in real time. I don't remember any discussion here that dealt with sharing a list before.


      • #4
        I'd recommend that each NA have an "owner." The owner is responsible for either (preferably) doing it or (if something comes up) delegating to the other person to make sure it gets done. For tasks that either of you could do, the owner could be the person who is most interested, is most likely to be in the right context first (such as near the bank), is the most likely to have time first, or whatever. What matters is that each NA have a person who is responsible for making sure it doesn't fall through the cracks. This approach also minimizes your need for dynamically shared lists.

        You probably still want to have regular reviews to make sure everything is going smoothly, but that's a much easier technical problem then making sure everyone has access to everything all the time.