How to actually stick with this system?

bettyatwork

Registered
I see there are a lot of posts like this but here goes :)

I am making another attempt at implementing GTD. I'm once again hung up on picking my systems. I used the full Microsoft suite at work. I have dabbled with ToDoist, Notion, OmniFocus, and various other apps... all leading to general overwhelm and quitting the system. I'm a program manager who's feeling totally overwhelmed on a daily basis and fairly often find myself dropping the ball.

My question for the seasoned GTD community is, should I just use a purely paper-based system or should I used the user guide for Microsoft Outlook/To-Do/One-Note? Am I even asking the right question here?

My personal life is fairly well managed using a version of the FlyLady method... chuckle but I'd eventually like to use GTD at home as well.
 

John Ismyname

Registered
Hello Betty; Just as GTD is platform independent, this community is platform open and respectful of GTD on all platforms. As for what system you should use, the good news is there is no wrong answer! Nobody finishes reading GTD for the first time and then implements 100% of the GTD system overnight. Those that stick with GTD tend to do add facets of it incrementally. (This is my own casual observation.)
 

Gardener

Registered
For me, the key to sticking with the system is very, very, VERY short active lists. I've bounced from OmniFocus to other schemes many times, and I'm back on OmniFocus, but perhaps ninety percent of the items in the system are coded by me as a "list" context, which is an on-hold context that basically serves as someday/maybe. Much of my error in past attempts was in using too many ways of hiding stuff--future dates, on hold projects, sequential versus parallel projects, blah blah blah. Now everything is either in a largely unstructured on-hold lists ("work ideas", "gardening ideas", "writing ideas", "food thoughts", stuff like that, all with a context of List) or in one of a tiny number of projects. Tiny. Oh, so tiny.
 

John Ismyname

Registered
To quote Nike's slogan, the best way to to do the weekly review is "Just Do It"! Today is Monday. When are you doing your weekly review for this week? Put that date and time in your GTD calendar now! Between now and then check the GTD book for weekly review ideas. The best way to start is write a free-form essay or point form as to how your week went. My first attempt was a "T" list with what I did well on one side of the "T" and what I needed to improve on the other. Once you have done a week in GTD AND done your weekly review, you are a GTDer!
 

ivanjay205

Registered
I have tried so many systems over the years because I keep on looking for the perfect tool for the system. I always go back to FacileThings. Strange name, interface is not the most beautiful, but the system is so pure it keeps you inline and really forces you to stick with it. Highly highly recommend it.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
The setup guides pretty accurately translate the model into implementation using various apps, including the famous “paper” app. In my experience, the less friction you feel in your system, the more comfortable you will be with it. If you are having trouble choosing an implementation and sticking to it, you should look at the different possibilities and try to determine what problem you think each will solve for you. Two perennial questions that many struggle with are “How can I associate next actions with projects?” and “What do I do with project support material?” These may not be issues for you, but they are actually peripheral to the core GTD system, and people arrive at different answers, based on their answer to the underlying question “What do I need to do to get this off my mind?” If you can answer that, we may be able to provide better advice, but you may not need it.
 

TesTeq

Registered
My question for the seasoned GTD community is, should I just use a purely paper-based system or should I used the user guide for Microsoft Outlook/To-Do/One-Note? Am I even asking the right question here?
@bettyatwork Do you LOVE any method of list making? Some people hate their handwriting so paper is not a good choice for them. Some people don't trust computers so paper seems a safer option for them. What method or tool do you LOVE? Use that tool for GTD!
 

Sojourner

Registered
I am making another attempt at implementing GTD. I'm once again hung up on picking my systems. I used the full Microsoft suite at work. I have dabbled with ToDoist, Notion, OmniFocus, and various other apps... all leading to general overwhelm and quitting the system. I'm a program manager who's feeling totally overwhelmed on a daily basis and fairly often find myself dropping the ball.

My question for the seasoned GTD community is, should I just use a purely paper-based system or should I used the user guide for Microsoft Outlook/To-Do/One-Note? Am I even asking the right question here?
I like @gtdstudente 's answer: Weekly Review. That is the keystone of GTD that helps me stick with it outside of everything else. Putting my mind at ease with everything I'm doing and need or want to do once a week has been the "dopamine rush" that keeps me coming back for more. :)

I started my GTD journey with paper to help establish my understanding of the system, and to reinforce the habit of using it. But then I moved to digital since it's always nearby (smartphone) and is backed up. Be careful not to allow yourself to slip into decision paralysis over the tool that you use. Like @TesTeq said, use the tool that best suits you and your specific needs, however, don't stop GTD while you're experimenting with different tools. Continuously move forward with GTD one next action and one weekly review at a time.

I do recommend researching the GTD Setup Guides. They could be very helpful in speeding up your initial setup. When I evaluated many digital based tools over several months (one of my first major projects using GTD), my three main criteria were:
  • Simplicity - will the tool distract me from focusing on GTD itself, will I fiddle with bells and whistles more than I use it, can I enter an idea or a task immediately after I open the tool to help me capture it
  • System Agnostic - will the tool work on multiple devices and platforms (i.e. Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, etc), can I export my data in some way if I ever do need to move to another tool, can I access it from almost anywhere
  • GTD Centric - is the tool capable of implementing or even better was it designed around the GTD system (i.e. break out next actions, someday/maybe, projects, provide context labels, integration with a calendar or due date reminders, etc)
 

John Ismyname

Registered
Some people don't trust computers so paper seems a safer option for them.
Conversely, I neither trust my handling of paper nor my manual processes!
*sigh* yesterday, I spent hours looking for an important piece of paper that I misfiled!

My GTD platform of choice is Outlook because it is both a repository of my GTD data and it does the 'grunt work' of conveying to me the the right information at the right time! I TRUST my platform to do this :)

I have made the realization that covidism has put more "moving parts" into my life. I now have calendar appointments and tasks to make arrangements with stores and service providers that I just had to walk in the doors previously.

@bettyatwork alerted me the "The FlyLady Method" when she started this post. I like the idea of this and am incorperating it into my GTD. While this yet another "moving part" to my GTD, it gets alot of "little tasks" out of my head and into my "trusted system"!

 

bettyatwork

Registered
Conversely, I neither trust my handling of paper nor my manual processes!
*sigh* yesterday, I spent hours looking for an important piece of paper that I misfiled!

My GTD platform of choice is Outlook because it is both a repository of my GTD data and it does the 'grunt work' of conveying to me the the right information at the right time! I TRUST my platform to do this :)

I have made the realization that covidism has put more "moving parts" into my life. I now have calendar appointments and tasks to make arrangements with stores and service providers that I just had to walk in the doors previously.

@bettyatwork alerted me the "The FlyLady Method" when she started this post. I like the idea of this and am incorperating it into my GTD. While this yet another "moving part" to my GTD, it gets alot of "little tasks" out of my head and into my "trusted system"!

The Flylady system when implemented really takes household chore stress to about a 1/100 for me. I needed a system to avoid the overwhelm of when to clean what when. After reading all the responses here and looking at the Outlook Quickstart guide... I'm going to set it up GTD style and see how it goes!
 

John Ismyname

Registered
I know "GTD and house cleaning" is discussed elsewhere on these forums, so I'll keep this one quick.
When I was a single guy living in my apartment, I had an @Saturday list my housecleaning, laundry, car maintenance, putting stuff away, financial records - basically all my chores.
I would execute this list every Saturday from top to bottom in an order that was the most efficient. This kept me honest as to how much time this really took! It also forced me to have this block of time on my calendar every Saturday. I could move it around but it had stay on my calendar.

This was great until I got married as my wife does not fully appreciate my household cleaning efficiency (with good reason). Actually, she can't go six days without cleaning and orgianizing. Thus, my first take on Flylady is to delegate some of my chores to Wednesday - midway through the week.
 

ckennedy

Registered
For me, the key to sticking with the system is very, very, VERY short active lists. I've bounced from OmniFocus to other schemes many times, and I'm back on OmniFocus, but perhaps ninety percent of the items in the system are coded by me as a "list" context, which is an on-hold context that basically serves as someday/maybe. Much of my error in past attempts was in using too many ways of hiding stuff--future dates, on hold projects, sequential versus parallel projects, blah blah blah. Now everything is either in a largely unstructured on-hold lists ("work ideas", "gardening ideas", "writing ideas", "food thoughts", stuff like that, all with a context of List) or in one of a tiny number of projects. Tiny. Oh, so tiny.
Not sure I understand this. Can you explain more?
 

Gardener

Registered
Not sure I understand this. Can you explain more?

Not sure which part was unclear? But explaning random bits:

My everyday active lists--the lists that I should check several times a day--need to be extremely short. I've been doing that for a long time.

But that means that there's a ton of stuff that isn't in my everyday active lists--ideas, or stuff that will produce projects, later, that kind of thing.
It exists, but it needs to be hidden from regular daily list checks.

There are a lot of ways to hide that stuff.

I could have it in some completely different system, so that my everyday lists are in OmniFocus or all the other stuff is in, oh, OmniOutliner or Scrivener or something else. I tried that. It caused too much friction--it was too much work to move items into and out of OmniFocus.

Or, in OmniFocus, stuff can be hidden in a variety of ways. I can set individual items On Hold, I can set projects On Hold, I can set contexts On Hold, I can hide entire folders, I can use future start dates, I can create elaborately designed perspectives, etc., etc.

I tried all that. It was too messy. It was too hard to be sure that something would be hidden, or that something would not be hidden.

So now I have a single On Hold Context, "List". I have "projects" that are really just lists. I do have most of my lists in one folder and most of my projects in another folder, but the single "switch" that moves something from hidden to not-hidden is whether it has the "List" context. So if I'm sitting in Garden Ideas (a list) and I see something that I want to act on, I can change its context and even give it a deadline, and while I SHOULD move it to a proper project, I don't have to--it's going to pop up anyway. That appears to be the key to making OmniFocus usable for me.
 

Jared Caron

Nursing leader; GTD enthusiast
I see there are a lot of posts like this but here goes :)

I am making another attempt at implementing GTD. I'm once again hung up on picking my systems. I used the full Microsoft suite at work. I have dabbled with ToDoist, Notion, OmniFocus, and various other apps... all leading to general overwhelm and quitting the system. I'm a program manager who's feeling totally overwhelmed on a daily basis and fairly often find myself dropping the ball.

My question for the seasoned GTD community is, should I just use a purely paper-based system or should I used the user guide for Microsoft Outlook/To-Do/One-Note? Am I even asking the right question here?

My personal life is fairly well managed using a version of the FlyLady method... chuckle but I'd eventually like to use GTD at home as well.

Best things I can suggest:
1. Stick with it. GTD has many nuances to it, and tenacity pays dividends as you uncover new layers of competency. David has said many times that it takes at least 2 full years of practice to fully implement GTD, and even then you're still a beginner. It's a path of mastery, not a destination.
2. Sign up for GTD connect. If you're serious about GTD and hungry for more content to help you further refine your practice (and you can self-study), it is the best deal for the money.
3. Don't get distracted by the tool - focus on learning the thinking process of GTD and getting your lists as clean and attractive to you as you can. Then you will think less about your system because it's simply working for you.
 

Suelin23

Registered
The setup guides pretty accurately translate the model into implementation using various apps, including the famous “paper” app. In my experience, the less friction you feel in your system, the more comfortable you will be with it. If you are having trouble choosing an implementation and sticking to it, you should look at the different possibilities and try to determine what problem you think each will solve for you. Two perennial questions that many struggle with are “How can I associate next actions with projects?” and “What do I do with project support material?” These may not be issues for you, but they are actually peripheral to the core GTD system, and people arrive at different answers, based on their answer to the underlying question “What do I need to do to get this off my mind?” If you can answer that, we may be able to provide better advice, but you may not need it.
I’ve managed to solve the problems of associating next actions with projects and project support material by using OneNote. One section per project, first page is the project plan which has all the actions. Following pages are project support. All computer next actions are tagged, and all other context NAs are on separate list pages. Given my computer context has most of the NA it works really well
 

GTDengineer

Registered
I use the GTD guide for MS Outlook/ To Do and it works well for me.

I enjoy using MS To Do for project and action lists. It is simple, but effective.

I use OneNote only for reference material. I don’t keep any action lists in One Note.
 
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