How do you even actually implement GTD when you’re so deep in the overwhelming chaos???

B B

Registered
Hi all!

I am 1000% convinced I need GTD desperately but I’m struggling so much to actually implement it! I find the whole process overwhelming and I already had horrible habits and a tendency to procrastinate/not follow through with things, which got me into this mess to begin with!

I have thousands of items in my email inboxes. I have all the tasks that WERE already moved to a list continuing to stare dauntingly at me! I’m overwhelmed just trying to implement GTD!

Blocking two full days without any interruptions is just not an option - I have a job with a demanding boss at work and two 7 month old twin babies at home.

Please - any suggestions?? Anyone else who went through this?? How did your implement and later keep it going ?!
 

David Parker

GTD Connect
The Getting Things Done Workbook, 10 moves to stress-free productivity written by David Allen and Brandon Hall, as its title suggests, is a practical guide to get you to assess how you currently manage things, introduces you to the GTD® methodology, and asks you to commit to change using that methodology.

You’re then presented with 10 moves to help you implement the GTD® methodology to achieve the stress-free productivity goal.

These moves are:
  1. Capture all your incoming paper into one in-tray
  2. Choose your capture tool
  3. Do a mind sweep
  4. Get your in-tray to empty
  5. Get your emails to zero
  6. Create your next action and other lists
  7. Keep track of your projects on one list
  8. Create folders to stay organised
  9. Do a GTD Weekly Review®
  10. Conduct a daily review
The Workbook contains links to 16 short videos of David Allen explaining the five phases of GTD® and the key techniques that you need to master.

These steps encompass the implementation of GTD® as covered in chapters 4 to 10 of David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (revised edition).

The Workbook gives you direct instructions on how to implement GTD® in a clear easy to absorb style without the full philosophy that the the companion Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity necessarily provides.

Even for an experienced follower of the GTD® approach, I am already finding the workbook a useful way to tune up my system . . .
 

mcogilvie

Registered
I remember fondly(?) when our kids were little and our careers were just starting. It’s not an easy time, so be kind to yourself. In a parenting magazine, we found the advice “First things first, second things probably not, and third things not at all.” In the language of GTD, the criteria for what you you will say “no” to or put on someday/maybe are likely to have radically changed. Brain dumps need to be critically examined to differentiate the essential from the merely important. Do an emergency scan of backlogs, and accept that that is the best you can do right now. Work to keep today’s inputs under control. Keep your lists short while you are building habits. Try to make your lists match what you are actually doing, and vice versa. Try things like an @twins_asleep context so your contexts match the rhythms of your life. Checklists can help with routines too. Let GTD help you with the simplest things, and work your way up as space opens up in your life.
 

sholden

Registered
I would also recommend the new workbook. When I am in "fire fighting" mode I end up using creating a paper mind map that use during that period to make sure I am doing a lot of what @mcogilvie is recommending.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
I would also recommend the new workbook. When I am in "fire fighting" mode I end up using creating a paper mind map that use during that period to make sure I am doing a lot of what @mcogilvie is recommending.
The new workbook does seem like a very good resource. I wasn’t sure if the step-by-step approach would be good or not for someone continuously putting out fires. Your suggestion of a mind map is a good one.
 

Gardener

Registered
My first thought is whether you're making sufficient use of Someday/Maybe. I think that people tend to put tasks on their current lists, and then, as an exception, move some to Someday/Maybe. I think that when you're overwhelmed your default should be Someday/Maybe, and as an exception, a RARE exception, move some to your current lists.

My second thought is that even if you can't run around your house finding every single actionable object and paper all at once, you CAN establish an inbox and put all new actionable items there.

Now I'm getting interrupted. :) I'll Post this.
 

Oogiem

Registered
Please - any suggestions?? Anyone else who went through this?? How did your implement and later keep it going ?!
Like @Gardener said make liberal use of someday/maybe. When you process the new stuff coming in decide how much can go into someday maybe. I'd even start out splitting S/M into S/M this month, S/M this year and S/M later so you can triage your inputs more effectively.

Get at least a paper inbox immediately. If you have a ton of stuff maybe it's a banker box not a tray. When you process, if you can't deal with it and it's not urgent toss into a Backlog box for when your head is above water.
 

tdubya

Registered
Interesting thread... I too use a weekly mindmap to help with overview of my immediate actions. Will definitely look at this resource book. Liberal use of the Someday/Maybe... hmm... hadn't thought of it like that before. Thanks all.
 

John Ismyname

Registered
Like @Gardener said make liberal use of someday/maybe. When you process the new stuff coming in decide how much can go into someday maybe. I'd even start out splitting S/M into S/M this month, S/M this year and S/M later so you can triage your inputs more effectively.
I never liked the GTD concept of someday and maybe all in one. "Maybe" by definition means you are considering something but not committed to it. My @_ Maybe list neither has start nor completion dates as I am not committed to @_Maybes in a practical or psychological way.

My @_somedays have a start/finish date on them for my time period to consider doing the tasks on it. Often, my deadline passes and my "someday"s have to be re-considered as to if I am going to do them on a future someday. Otherwise, they get 'demoted' to my maybe list of deleted.
 

Oogiem

Registered
I never liked the GTD concept of someday and maybe all in one.
I agree with you, only because things get to long if I have it all in one.

My @_ Maybe list neither has start nor completion dates as I am not committed to @_Maybes in a practical or psychological way.

My @_somedays have a start/finish date on them for my time period to consider doing the tasks on it
That's a unique and interesting way of separating them.

I actually settled on sorting them by area of focus because that makes more sense to me. I've had Maybe's turn into real projects at least as often as Somedays do. I've had Somedays go away due to circumstances too.

In any case, finding a way to move things you cannot deal with right now (for whatever your definition is of right now) into someplace else that your mind accepts will get checked in an appropriate time period is critical when implementing GTD.
 

jfkinaz

Registered
Having implemented GTD over a painful, wrenching, regularly leaking 3 month process, i would never do that again. The book says take one full week off. THAT is what I would wholeheartedly suggest. Take the week. Go 100% in. If I knew then, how this would change my life like it has for the past 2 years, I would not have hesitated to take the week. But i was a doubter! Now. I am a believer!
 

Jodie E. Francis

GTD Novice
I haven't seen the GTD Workbook but have just added it to my Christmas list :)

@B B , April Perry has adapted GTD (with DavidCo permission) for busy moms - you may want to check her STEP system https://learndobecome.com/stepprogram

While it would be lovely to take a few days or a week away to implement GTD, reality doesn't allow it for those of us with young families. But she has ideas to help, and teaches how to create a system in just 10 min per day. If nothing else, her podcasts might offer support.

(Disclosure: I took the course years ago and think I'm still a member, but that is not an affiliate link.)
 

chirmer

Registered
Blocking two full days without any interruptions is just not an option - I have a job with a demanding boss at work and two 7 month old twin babies at home.
I can't really offer advice for the babies, but regarding your boss - remember and internalize the saw metaphor.

You have a dead tree in your yard you need to cut down, and a storm is coming in that might make the tree fall on your house. You're on a time crunch! But, the blade on your saw is dull. It will take time to go back to your garage, sharpen the blade, and come back to the tree. Time you could spend cutting! But it will take longer to cut the tree down with that dull blade than it would have taken you to go sharpen the blade and come back to tackle the task with a sharp edge.

It's always worth honing your tools before starting the task at hand. It might feel like you aren't working, but you are. And you will work so much faster and better when your tools support the work you are doing. And when the next emergency arrives, your tools are sharp and ready to tackle it.

Don't go to work with a dull saw. If your boss is unreasonable, conveniently fall ill and spend your work day at a coffee shop out of town. Take one day to go through everything and divide it up into URGENT and NOT URGENT. Only process the URGENT stuff into your GTD system and stick everything NOT URGENT in a Someday list. Liberally ditch tasks that seem meaningless or don't need to get done.

During your weekly review, chip away at that NOT URGENT list, seeing if anything is now URGENT and moving that back into a next action list. Ignore everything else again. Eventually, you'll get through that entire Someday list (processing it, not doing the tasks), and your system will close your open loops fully.

This worked really well for me, and continues to do so. I've got more than 40 hrs of work per week to do, and ruthlessly putting off tasks that don't need to be done immediately saves my sanity. Your Someday list will be your BFF. Promise!
 
I can't really offer advice for the babies, but regarding your boss - remember and internalize the saw metaphor.

You have a dead tree in your yard you need to cut down, and a storm is coming in that might make the tree fall on your house. You're on a time crunch! But, the blade on your saw is dull. It will take time to go back to your garage, sharpen the blade, and come back to the tree. Time you could spend cutting! But it will take longer to cut the tree down with that dull blade than it would have taken you to go sharpen the blade and come back to tackle the task with a sharp edge.

It's always worth honing your tools before starting the task at hand. It might feel like you aren't working, but you are. And you will work so much faster and better when your tools support the work you are doing. And when the next emergency arrives, your tools are sharp and ready to tackle it.

Don't go to work with a dull saw. If your boss is unreasonable, conveniently fall ill and spend your work day at a coffee shop out of town. Take one day to go through everything and divide it up into URGENT and NOT URGENT. Only process the URGENT stuff into your GTD system and stick everything NOT URGENT in a Someday list. Liberally ditch tasks that seem meaningless or don't need to get done.

During your weekly review, chip away at that NOT URGENT list, seeing if anything is now URGENT and moving that back into a next action list. Ignore everything else again. Eventually, you'll get through that entire Someday list (processing it, not doing the tasks), and your system will close your open loops fully.

This worked really well for me, and continues to do so. I've got more than 40 hrs of work per week to do, and ruthlessly putting off tasks that don't need to be done immediately saves my sanity. Your Someday list will be your BFF. Promise!
Wow! I think I’ll take this idea and apply it myself! Never thought of it that way until your post! Thank you! :)
 

Stefan Godo

GTD Connect
Dear BB,
if you read this, your boys are already 8,5 months old, and you took care of them :) Well done, GTD is just an award you can collect!

to your question:
yes, we all went through this :)

0. I would find somebody who is willing to help and share the journey with you, but anyway:

1. Do a mindsweep - walk with a piece of paper and pen through your flat/house/property. Write down EVERYTHING that comes to your mind. This will release the tension for a while. (1-2 h needed)
2. LOOK at the (probably) huge list and select INTUITIVELY items which you cannot realistically do anything with the next 10 days. put those simply aside (if you do not like "Someday-maybe", you can call it "Later", "Spring", or anything else). They will not be lost, just stored.
3. Apply the fundamental process (=implement GTD) for the rest. Do not try perfection, do a small part and ask back
 
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