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Changing habits to make GTD work

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  • Changing habits to make GTD work


    I am finding that as I try to implement GTD I need to create a lot of new habits in my life. Especially when it comes remembering to check my list when I have time. I just start working on the first thing that comes to my mind when I have time to work. This especially happens when I am outside of the office.

    What is your advice/method to form new habits in your life (especially when it comes to things like checking list)?

    Thanks in advance.


  • #2

    This last week, David Allen and coach Danny Bader did a teleseminar for Connect Members on getting change to stick. There are also videos on the site covering this very topic.

    Connect is a great source for lots of things, but this was particularly well covered. They have a trial membership, if you don't want to sign up. I've been a member for almost 2 years now and and lately the site has really been re-energized! There is new content every week now.

    And, no: I'm not affliated with David in any way. I'm just an enthusiastic subscriber.


    • #3
      Accept the challenge

      Originally posted by Joshua Moore View Post
      What is your advice/method to form new habits in your life (especially when it comes to things like checking list)?
      I think this is a great discussion.Or at least it could become if....

      First, I think we need discipline.
      It seem if you do something for more than 10/15 days it become an habit. Then I tried to facilitate the GTD system. So helped me the little agenda ...on hand...index card to write down and continuously see the benefits related to GTD. If you see the benefits, I think you feel less pushed by the have to!

      Then, continue to stay with us or to become a connect member. I think this help to keep in touch

      Good luck


      • #4


        • #5
          I have never found Pavlina's writing to be helpful or engaging. It seems to teeter at the edge of respectability in the spectrum of American fascination with self-improvement, e.g. "Raw food" and "The law of attraction", combined with an unpleasant worldview, e.g. "How to be a man."


          • #6

            I would find out a way to have the list visible as much as possible the first days or weeks. If it is "in my face", I don't need to remember to check it. This may not be practical in the long run, but for me it works to "rub the habit in" by being over-the-top thorough in the beginning.

            How to go about in detail depends on what format your list is in (digital or physical, for example).



            • #7
              The key for me (and my consulting clients) has been combining as many of those new habits as possible. For example, I suggest using a Daily Action Card that reminds you of the various things to do that day -- get to email Inbox Zero, do a weekly review on Sunday, scoop the litter box -- and then my only habit has to be "look at card" instead of the 25 separate habits listed on the card.

              I put the card in an obvious place (on the floor next to the bed, so I step on it when I wake up) and the last item on the card is "Put next day's card next to bed."

              I also keep specific checklists for routine work tasks or even cleaning the house, so again, my habit only has to be "look at list" instead of remembering to do 31 separate things.

              There's also a free website called HassleBot that sends you random email reminders... if sticking Post-It notes around your home/office isn't your thing, getting unexpected email reminders can help a new habit to stick.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Joshua Moore View Post
                What is your advice/method to form new habits in your life (especially when it comes to things like checking list)?
                I find creating new habits to be extremely difficult. Where I've been successful it's because I've been highly motivated to do so, and I have renewed my committment to the new habit regularly. Self-awareness is all important.

                Perhaps the one "meta habit" you should develop first is for regular reviewing (weekly review or whatever). You can use GTD to bootstrap itself by putting into your weekly review a reminder to check your daily reminders and then go from there. I have a morning checklist with a half-dozen affirmations for habits I'm currently trying to reinforce. I review the list every morning, and then journal for a few minutes about how the changes are coming along. This keeps my committments fresh.

                Another important thing is to not be discouraged by setbacks since there is no failure when developing a new habit it's just a continuous process with natural ups and downs.


                • #9
                  The latest GTD Connect Teleseminar covers this

                  The latest David Allen teleseminar for GTD Connect members is about Getting GTD to Stick. If you are not a member, you can do the two-week free trial and listen to the seminar on the website (you need to be a paying member to download it though.)

                  Here it is:


                  And also one from last year called Making Change Stick:

                  Hope this helps!


                  • #10
                    There's an old saying in management: what gets measured gets managed.

                    If you're serious about changing a habit, it pays to put laser-like focus on it. That means, among other things, orienting as much of your behavior around it as possible. Working from a context list is a very different habit for most people, so cultivating the habit of looking at the list after finishing a task and before starting a new task takes very deliberate effort.

                    I'd be boringly pedantic about this. I'd resolve to keep a list of each task I do for, say, the first three hours of each work day. Write down each task as you complete it, then turn to your context list, pick another, do it, and write it down. You want to reinforce this process by paying attention to it and not doing what comes naturally to you, which is what has always felt comfortable despite it not serving you well. At the end of the three hours, reflect back on how the exercise went, what obstacles came up, where the process broke down, how you can adjust your approach to be more consistent.

                    You also want to remove passive barriers. Keep the context list close at hand -- next to your computer or wherever you're actually working. Shut down your browser and work on one task at a time. Keep your desk spotlessly clean, with absolutely nothing on it but the tools of your work and the materials associated with only your next action.

                    You can enlist outside help -- an accountability buddy that you check in with by phone at the end of the day, say, or you can post a status report here each week with the details of how things are going. I don't know HasselBot, but I like the idea -- anything to which you feel accountable helps.

                    You want to keep this new habit foremost in your mind and orient your focus around it. That means building behaviors and systems that redirect your focus back to the new habit and away from distractions and old habits. Measure your progress in writing frequently, and reflect on what's working, what's not working, and what changes you need to make to fix that which is not working.

                    Affirmations are good, but doing something concrete is better. Reviewing is good, but even better if you formulate metrics, write down results, and draw written conclusions. Resolve is good, but writing down an action plan is better. Identifying failure points and reformulating the plan is better still. A list is good, but a checklist with checkboxes to actively check off is even better.


                    • #11
                      Read Leo Babauta's "Power of Less"

                      Read Leo Babauta's "Power of Less, The: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Business and in Life". It contains useful ideas how to create new and productive habits.