GTD Reboot

TruthWK

Registered
So I've been trying to do GTD in some form or another since maybe 2007 or 2008. I have always fallen off the wagon. I'm a recovering perfectionist and a software developer. I have often gotten myself stuck with overly rigid or complex implementations or shiny software syndrome. Each time I've fallen off and then eventually restarted my system fresh or I never really got going. But I always tried to learn something from it and my pitfalls. There have been many times where I've questioned whether GTD was a system I could work or if I needed to compromise and do something easier for me acknowledging that I just wouldn't have all my open loops captured.

Over the last week, I've setup the main GTD lists in Notion, done some capturing and project planning at work and baby step started a fresh GTD system. I've even gotten rid of some physical items in my office and been able to fit my physical captures into my inbox again. My plan as I'm writing this is to do a full on capture this morning and hopefully be able to take my inbox to zero. Also of course i have emails and other key inboxes to process as well. Phone notifications have gotten out of control for sure.

The reason I'm writing this is I'm looking for motivation because after trying and failing so many times, I don't have confidence in myself to stick with it and I really want to. As I learned more and more from each failed implementation, I've gotten better tastes (just tastes) of the benefits of GTD. Even when I've totally been off the wagon, I still kept things like getting ideas out of my head when I'm stuck. Also, I'd love to see perspectives on people that actually set aside 2 days to kick off the system vs doing it slowly. I've never been able to finish the kickoff all at once. It's always taken me awhile. Usually my brain can't handle the clarifying stage for hours and hours. I feel like I want to try and get pretty far into it but i want to be realistic and not get discouraged.

It's great to have a forum to be able to talk about this because it's really hard for non-GTD'ers (everyone I know in person) to understand my thoughts from a GTD practitioner's perspective.
 

Mateusz

Registered
First of all, you didn't fail, you are still looking for the best approach for you.
I have been maintaining my GTD system and training myself for more than 10 years. This year I read the book for 6th time and still was able to find something new.
For the very first time when you read a book it seems to be easy and nothing special. But it's not. In my opinion, GTD isn't easy and it's much much deeper then you can even imagine after reading a book.
My experience shows me that it is easier to implement it step by step. Habit after habit. In my case, it was easy to get used to the Capturing step. Very natural for me. But on the other hand, defining proper next actions took me years. Handling projects as GDT defines it took me even more time. I have added areas of focus into my system just two years ago. I have started using energy and time attributes this year (after switching to the Nirvana app). Many times I thought that "oh it is impossible that this works! how?". I was persistent and figured out what I was doing wrong and then "what? it is working!"
It is about practice, practice and one more time practice.
David Allen and his great team are still publishing new materials, tips, webinars, etc. We could think that everything was said but it is not.
Maybe the newly published GDT workbook can help you ground your new system?
Now I consider GTD as my lifestyle that I want to improve constantly. And finally, what is very important I have never considered my past experiences as failures, just the learning process.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
Actually, your experience sounds not unlike mine. I have had to learn to resist complications which might or might not add value but are just too hard to maintain. I have a large backlog of paper files left from the transition from largely paper to largely digital. Email piles up very quickly. But I know what to do. GTD recognizes that the only way to deal with stuff ... is to deal with it. A two-day initial implementation can really improve someone’s life, but it doesn’t handle every nook and cranny. Follow-up to maintain habits is key. Process daily, review at least weekly, write good next actions.

I am a bit concerned that Notion may not be the right tool for you. I view it as a hybrid of a wiki with a database. My experience is that wiki’s are fine for holding information, but not so good for projects and next actions. Database programs have fiddly categories and can be rather rigid. A simple todo list program can be liberating because it forces you to focus on a single phrase that encapsulates the next action. But Notion may be ok if you keep it very simple.

Strive to have better days. There’s no secret elevator to the top of the mountain.
 

TruthWK

Registered
I'm liking the flexibility of notion and it's keyboard shortcuts and / commands. It really saves me time and doesn't allow me to start looking at a million other things in my system while i'm processing or capturing. I'm staying away from databases as much as possible because they have overcomplicated my workflow in the past. Right now i've got a calendar for my tickler as a db but that's all. I agree that the rigidity of them is a problem. I just treat every task or project as a page. It gives me the freedom to add any notes and brainstorm right on the action or project. I also try to flatten any reference that gets more than 3 layers deep as i found that to be the limit at which stuff gets buried and is hard to find.

Yes weekly review has always been tough for me. I've completed only a handful of full weekly reviews ever. I have also seen where gtd folks (i believe kelly forrister) talked about how they do project reviews and getting the inbox to zero separately from the weekly review. I have found myself getting too caught up with project planning etc during the weekly review and it takes too long and i give up on it.
 

Cpu_Modern

Registered
For types like you the best way is to use a pen and paper system at least until you got the doing GTD part going. GTD is not a magic pill that solves the riddle of your life just by virtue of having choosen the right soft and hacks. You should do GTD though, because doing it gives you a much better shot at having a life that does suck substantially less.
 

thomasbk

Registered
I have found myself getting too caught up with project planning etc during the weekly review and it takes too long and i give up on it.
I've realized that the weekly review is basically Monopoly. People hate playing Monopoly because it takes hours. But the game is intended to be played in about 60 minutes. The problem is people don't know all the rules or play with "house rules" and it unnecessarily prolongs the game.

I was frequently getting sidetracked in my review because I was stopping to do whatever a task was rather than only processing it into my system. Procrastinating work until my weekly review became my house rule. My aha moment came on a webinar when Kelly explained that an inbox with 30 emails should take 60 minutes or less to process (because a task can be done in two minutes or processed much faster. I'm probably not quoting her correctly, but it changed my whole approach.) My review is now enjoyable and when I'm the most overwhelmed is the time when I most need to stop and do a review to regain confidence in my control.
 

Chas Masterson

Registered
So I've been trying to do GTD in some form or another since maybe 2007 or 2008. I have always fallen off the wagon. I'm a recovering perfectionist and a software developer. I have often gotten myself stuck with overly rigid or complex implementations or shiny software syndrome. Each time I've fallen off and then eventually restarted my system fresh or I never really got going. But I always tried to learn something from it and my pitfalls. There have been many times where I've questioned whether GTD was a system I could work or if I needed to compromise and do something easier for me acknowledging that I just wouldn't have all my open loops captured.

Over the last week, I've setup the main GTD lists in Notion, done some capturing and project planning at work and baby step started a fresh GTD system. I've even gotten rid of some physical items in my office and been able to fit my physical captures into my inbox again. My plan as I'm writing this is to do a full on capture this morning and hopefully be able to take my inbox to zero. Also of course i have emails and other key inboxes to process as well. Phone notifications have gotten out of control for sure.

The reason I'm writing this is I'm looking for motivation because after trying and failing so many times, I don't have confidence in myself to stick with it and I really want to. As I learned more and more from each failed implementation, I've gotten better tastes (just tastes) of the benefits of GTD. Even when I've totally been off the wagon, I still kept things like getting ideas out of my head when I'm stuck. Also, I'd love to see perspectives on people that actually set aside 2 days to kick off the system vs doing it slowly. I've never been able to finish the kickoff all at once. It's always taken me awhile. Usually my brain can't handle the clarifying stage for hours and hours. I feel like I want to try and get pretty far into it but i want to be realistic and not get discouraged.

It's great to have a forum to be able to talk about this because it's really hard for non-GTD'ers (everyone I know in person) to understand my thoughts from a GTD practitioner's perspective.
I only allow 2 aps to send phone notifications. The rest are set to off.
 

Sarahsuccess

Registered
My plan as I'm writing this is to do a full on capture this morning and hopefully be able to take my inbox to zero.
That sounds like an ambitious goal. (What is your timeframe for taking inbox to zero?) Perhaps make smaller and more attainable goals. Reaching smaller goals will be intrinsically more rewarding.
There are 3 stages of integrating gtd: understanding, implementation and behavior change. I think David Allen says it takes up to a year to fully integrate gtd.
Im curious, how long did it take experienced gtd-ers to feel like they had integrated gtd?
 

Oogiem

Registered
an inbox with 30 emails should take 60 minutes or less to process (because a task can be done in two minutes or processed much faster.
That's an interesting take on it. My inbox frequently has items that can take 5+5 minutes just to determine whether it's really actionable or not. But I do feel that fast processing is a goal.

Im curious, how long did it take experienced gtd-ers to feel like they had integrated gtd?
I'm going on 11 years using GTD and I STILL don't feel I've unpacked everything that it helps with or how to fully utilize the techniques and tools that comprise the GTD system. .

As for integrating it into my life, capture came first, that didn't take too long, maybe 3-4 months, I can't really remember? Review was next and it took well over a year to really get doing review down and understanding how to use them. Starting late in 2018 I made major changes to my system and implemented many improvements by adding the layer of 12 week year planning to my existing quarterly review that fits with the farming calendar. That learning nuance is ongoing as each season I get better and really focusing on how to use the GTD methods to get what I want to do done.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
Im curious, how long did it take experienced gtd-ers to feel like they had integrated gtd?
Like Oogie, I feel that I’m continuing to learn. I think I understand why too. GTD is really about honesty with oneself: Do I want to do this? Why? Do I know how to do it? What are the consequences of failure? Of success? These kinds of questions are sometimes hard, and the landscape of our lives is always changing. It can take a lot of maturity to move a cherished outcome to someday-maybe as circumstances change. Taking control of our lives means control of ourselves, and that’s ongoing.
 

Cpu_Modern

Registered
Im curious, how long did it take experienced gtd-ers to feel like they had integrated gtd?
Years ago I listened to a podcast from Merlin Mann where he says that instead of the "standard" two years to fully get it, he himself needed four years. Back then I instantly thought the same about myself.

While I still think this to be true, more recently @mcogilvie wrote on this forum that he found again and again that DA's advice just to be right. This is my own experience as well and it seems to be ongoing. GTD has proven itself to be a very firm basis for all this self-management stuff.
 

jmsmall

Registered
When John asked me if he could interview me for Slice of GTD Life, I had very similar thoughts. Why me? I keep falling off despite being convinced that the underlying logic is sound. I'm a doc so pretty much by definition I'm also a perfectionist and made everything way too complex and "perfect" and unusable. Now I try to reward myself with throwing my arms up into a victory and saying something motivational like "YES!" or "TADA!" I finally settled on Kelli's Evernote system and nicknamed it Tembo (google it, Swahili, and then look down the page further.) I also try not to really grind at any one task for too long and end on a success. Just little things but it does seem to be improving. Great thing about GTD: even if you do it imperfectly it still can help get a lot done.
 

Chas Masterson

Registered
My plan as I'm writing this is to do a full on capture this morning and hopefully be able to take my inbox to zero. Also of course i have emails and other key inboxes to process as well.
I use gmail and filter all mail into separate tabs, outside of the inbox. My Main Inbox is about 3 emails per day.
I only process email on my desktop every couple of days.
 

Jodie E. Francis

GTD Novice
So I've been trying to do GTD in some form or another since maybe 2007 or 2008. I have always fallen off the wagon. I'm a recovering perfectionist and a software developer. I have often gotten myself stuck with overly rigid or complex implementations or shiny software syndrome. Each time I've fallen off and then eventually restarted my system fresh or I never really got going. But I always tried to learn something from it and my pitfalls. There have been many times where I've questioned whether GTD was a system I could work or if I needed to compromise and do something easier for me acknowledging that I just wouldn't have all my open loops captured.
Me too - all of the above! You are certainly not alone in this, my route has been basically the same. My best advice - do the weekly reviews, at least once a week. Even if you aren't doing them perfectly, because I can assure you, you won't be ;) don't let your perfectionism discourage you.

Commit to doing your best with it for a month (at least 4 reviews) before making changes/considering any shiny new software, and by then you should have a solid sense of how beneficial GTD is, and where you want to tweak your system.

Also, you do need to allow sufficient time each day to process your inputs (30-90 min depending how complex your world is) - otherwise your weekly review will be 110% processing and no time left for reviewing, which is discouraging! :)
 

TesTeq

Registered
Like Oogie, I feel that I’m continuing to learn. I think I understand why too. GTD is really about honesty with oneself: Do I want to do this? Why? Do I know how to do it? What are the consequences of failure? Of success? These kinds of questions are sometimes hard, and the landscape of our lives is always changing. It can take a lot of maturity to move a cherished outcome to someday-maybe as circumstances change. Taking control of our lives means control of ourselves, and that’s ongoing.
Can you LEARN or TRAIN honesty with yourself?
 

mcogilvie

Registered
Can you LEARN or TRAIN honesty with yourself?
I think so. A large part of post-graduate training in the sciences is learning how to recognize when you don’t know the answer, finding out what you can, and being honest about what you’ve done, both with yourself and others. It takes a while to learn.
 

rmjb

Registered
I only started GTD two years ago and I already find myself thinking recently like this; is GTD for me? I've read the book twice and I read GTD for Teens earlier this year. I'm currently trying to read Making it Work.

At the end of the 2015 edition of the book, David talks about progress though GTD, how it should take about 2 years to get comfortable with the basics. Then another 2 years to really up your game and so on.

I have challenges though. I don't think I've gotten a handle on perspective yet, I don't have good horizons of focus.
I'm also very inconsistent with weekly reviews. One tip I learned on this forum a couple months ago that helps is "no doing during weekly reviews". This simple change has moved my inconsistent reviews down from almost whole day to a couple hours.

I persist though, because like you, I recognise the promise in the system. At my one year mark I purchased a couple guides from the GTD Shop and saw that I had over-complicated my system. Perhaps try the recently released GTD Workbook to help with honing your system, since being afflicted with both perfectionism and software development is not a good combination when trying to simplify a system.
 

OF user

Registered
I think productivity workflows, systems, setups can be viewed as a bit of a hobby. This is not just unique to GTD but look at the bullet journal and planner community. Take that further to this forum and to forums like Omnifocus. Note that many apps feature their own blog. Many people like talking about this stuff and many people like tinkering with this stuff. The posts of this board are full of discoveries, tricks, patches, hacks people have discovered in an effort to improve or better embrace their productivity. TruthWK refers to the shiny software syndrome. What makes it shiny? Is it obviously going to double your productivity? No, but it is something to tinker with. It is something far more interesting to do than the work that is documented on your lists.

Now, we all have a bit of work we have to do but I think Pareto can sneak into GTD and I would say probably 20% of the tasks you document in your system comprise 80% of the work you have to accomplish. The remaining 80% of the tasks are shoulds and coulds and we rarely execute on them (unless they're fun or interesting). Don't you find that you may not have time to get things done but you always have time to improve your system?

This is not criticism of GTD or anyone on this forum - I do the same thing. It just is what it is. There are some exceptions. Oogie has a farm to run so she probably has a larger list of things that absolutely have to get done in order to stay in business and all of us have mileage that will vary depending on the depth and breadth of our horizons of focus. But in the end, we are all productivity hobbyists and as a result we all have some type of difficulty sticking with a productivity workflow when it is so much fun to tinker with or develop a new one.
 

Jodie E. Francis

GTD Novice
Well THAT hits rather close to the bone, @OF user LOL
Particularly at this time of the year, with social media feeds chock full of "self-improvement porn", it is SO much more fun to explore new methods & shiny tools than it is to do a weekly review. :blush: But I would be careful not to group 'tinkering' into the same category as the perpetual search for a new tool or methodology. A forum like this provides tremendous value, and I've benefited many times from more experienced GTD practitioners sharing tips and tricks that have helped me fix a part of my system that was causing friction/resistance. My goal over the holidays will be to remove that 80% 'should' tasks that drag down my GTD system, so I can focus on the remaining, most important work.

@rmjb definitely keep doing the weekly reviews, don't be afraid to either cull from your lists or move stuff to Someday/Maybe, and just for fun, maybe try limiting them to 1 hour. Doing an abbreviated review is far, far better than no review because you couldn't spare a few hours. And set aside some time to check out the existing threads and webinars on horizons of focus, etc. - or post a new thread if you have specific There's lots of good stuff :)
 
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