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GTD in Emergency situations

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  • GTD in Emergency situations


    I have been working on GTD for several months now. I would not say I am a good practitioner yet but, I am getting better. I thing I repeatedly have problems with though is using GTD in an emergency situation. I use Remember the Milk for my task lists until an emergency comes up. Then my mind for some reason decides that Remember the Milk is inefficient and I will not feel comfortable about what I am supposed to do until it is written on a piece of paper. I am not sure if I just do not subconsciously trust myself to use Remember the Milk in an emergency situation. Or if in emergency situations it is better to kind of put GTD on hold and use a frictionless system for the duration of the emergency. I would love to here your thoughts about using GTD in an emergency and how you trained yourself to trust your GTD system then.



  • #2
    If you are handling an emergency, you are G.T.D., except that the decisions are not getting recorded in and checked off your regular system. This is fine. In some emergencies, actions are just clear, and they just need to be completed. Others require clarification. This is where you can follow the GTD workflow more consciously:
    • collecting: all the things dancing in your mind re this emergency
    • processing+organizing: the desired outcomes and next actions re this emergency. Some of the actions might be related to going through the five phases of project planning.
    • review: frequent review of the outcomes and actions re this emergency and quick adjustments in actions and outcomes (frequency depends on the situation, and may be much faster than weekly)
    • do: do your best using the results of the above steps

    You can totally focus on the emergency till you are satisfied that it is being or will be handled well. During this time you can use something much simpler as a system to reduce friction: A notebook could really work well here, for example. Once things re this emergency are set on cruise control (delegated, results awaited, scheduled, etc) you can turn back to your regular, non-emergency system for a bigger review, taking this emergency also in perspective if required.

    Just a play on words to make my point: GTD is not Remember The Milk, it is Getting Things Done. So what is on hold is not GTD, it's RTM.

    All this said, I personally do not like the idea of keeping things "out there" as one does with RTM, but that may be just me.



    • #3
      Originally posted by Joshua Moore View Post
      I would love to here your thoughts about using GTD in an emergency and how you trained yourself to trust your GTD system then.
      During my emergency situations I am "doing work as it shows up" so I am still fully within GTD. If I happen to think of something I need to collect if it's safe to do so I collect it (a checklist I need, something I need to have handy just in case for next time, a thought about how we could have avoided the emergency etc.) but usually I just work the process, decision on action, triage as necessary to handle competing actions and crunch the doing of what it takes to handle it. When the emergency is over then is the time to do a mini weekly review. If nothing else it helps the adrenalin dissipate and is calming. I use the mini reviews to evaluate my actions during the emergency, deal with any things I discovered I did not have and needed, update reference filing as required so the info I need is easy to find and add any projects or tasks to my system that came out of the emergency situation. So I fully trust the process and still GTD during emergencies.


      • #4
        Responding to Emergencies is doing GTD when you KNOW it's what you should be doing

        I think the key to dealing with emergencies is the weekly review. Emergencies happen everywhere, probably every week if not every day depending on your responsibilities.
        Just responding to emergencies may be keeping with GTD or it may not. It depends on how well and completely your managing and tracking your actions/projects. If you're not managing and tracking you're probably allowing for more emergencies.
        Just for some perspective. I've been working the GTD system for a little over 18 months and just in the last 3 have I really begun to nail the weekly review. I actually started using GTD in the midst of a multiple big time emergencies, because I had to do something.
        Connect is a really great resource. One of the earlier podcasts on the weekly review has been really helpful as well as the weekly review checklist (I use it every week). So be patient here's my general progression with GTD, for what little perspective it may offer you:
        1. redid my office to be suitable to GTD
        2. week 3 - cleared backlog (It took 3 weeks upfront, but it was worth it)
        3. month 4-5 got and kept IN's to empty
        4. month 12 - nailed capture and processing (omnifocus on my iphone, omnifocus on my mac - omnifocus, omnifocus, omnifocus - just sayin')
        5. month 15 - redid, upgraded my office to better suit my implementation of GTD
        6. month 16-17 established a consistent effective weekly review

        7. what's next for me? Seeing if there's improvement to be gained on working more in context mode.
        Your never done learning GTD or anything else. Still works for me as long as my learning doesn't get in the way of my doing.

        Good luck

        Last edited by cashdollar; 09-07-2009, 05:59 AM.